What to plant to deter deer, rabbits, and insects?

Rosecandy VA, zone 7January 23, 2014

Okay, so I'm planning a rose garden this year and have already ordered some plants. The problem is I've read deer, rabbits, and japanese beetles love rose bushes and aphids can also be a problem. I looked up repellent plants for these pests and noticed a common theme: none of them typically like strong smelling herbs, basil, chives, garlic, onion, or catnip. I don't want to spray them or put bonemeal (or blood) down. Garlic especially seems to be good against rabbits and aphids.

I plan to make a few raised beds around my rose garden with a few of these plants in them to deter the pests, but the problem is I've never tried to plant any of them. I live in zone 7. I would like to raise chives, as I've heard great things about it repelling pests and also they're pretty and bees love the flowers, but they don't look easy to grow.

What plants do you recommend that are easy to grow? I'd like a maximum of three please, as I don't want to overwhelm myself. How does one grow the plants that you recommend (simple directions are fine)?

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Bad news I'm afraid. I don't believe planting anything near your roses will have any effect whatsoever on any of the pests you mention. They'll just ignore them and head for what they want to eat. I don't get rabbits or deer here but from what I've read on these forums only a physical barrier of sufficient height (deer) and or depth (rabbits), i.e. a fence, will keep them out for certain. Aphids will not be deterred by anything planted nearby, however oniony it smells.

Regarding chives they are dead simple to grow. Not at all fussy.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 3:17PM
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Rosecandy VA, zone 7

I can't afford to put up a 6-8 foot fence for deer, and I'm trying to avoid putting up a fence for rabbits. I just need something that will make them want my roses less. Out here there's plenty of food for the deer and rabbits and the hunters keep their numbers in check, so a little something that makes our yard less pleasant might work. It's worth a shot anyway!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:38PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

I agree with Flora--planting like this may do a little bit, but won't completely solve the problem. As she stated, chives are super easy to grow, but they do grow in clumps. It would take a lot to make an actual 'fence'. Garlic chives are also nice, with pretty flowers, though they'll take longer to mature. (they're pretty puny the first year) Both chives can spread if you don't cut the flowers to prevent seeding. Basil you might want to do more research on--I seem to remember that it might be a help to roses in other ways, but as I don't grow roses, didn't pay much attention to that when I read it. Catnip grows easily, but you will attract every cat in the neighborhood to your garden, and it can spread. Catmint doesn't attract the cats as much, but does become a nuisance as far as spreading. Garlic and onions are relatively easy, but may not have much effect, especially in raised beds.

I'm a city girl, so don't have much problem with bunnies and deer (do have to worry about rats eating my seedlings). I do remember something I read saying she plants a ring of parsley around some beds--the bunnies just stay on the edges and eat that and leave the inner stuff alone. Aphids will be a problem, and if you want to stick organic, the best way to combat them is your garden hose. A good spray will knock most of them off, and if you keep it up, they're weak little critters and many will die before climbing back up. A spray bottle of a dishsoap solution will help kill eggs organically--make sure you're spraying the bottoms of leaves. Neem may be an option too. Maybe check out the rose forum for other suggestions?

The herbs that have been mentioned here are all easy to grow. Most like average soil, well draining (which your raised beds would be). Very little fertilizer is needed for in-ground herbs, if any as long as the soil was amended with compost, etc. They all like to be kept more moist (moist but not sitting in water) unlike some of the Mediterranean arid types--if you look at thyme, oregano, rosemary--you'll have to do more research to learn their water needs. Basil is annual, easy to grow from seed or buy transplants, but you'll plant it each year. Chives are perennial and would come back after winter each year.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:24PM
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Rosecandy VA, zone 7

Thank you for the info. It's nice to hear that the plants are easy to grow...and invasive (not so nice to hear, but nice to know). Guess I have a lot more research ahead of me!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:40AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I don't think anyone said chives are invasive. They certainly spread in some climates and conditions but that is not the same as being invasive. If you want to plant a barrier you will need a lot of transplants anyway. In my garden they don't spread at all.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Rosecandy VA, zone 7

I was refering to the catnip and catmint when I said invasive, though now that I looked back I see balloonflower didn't say invasive. I think this year I'll just put cages around my roses and save up and do research. I might end up deciding to just get a fence for the animals and plants for the bugs. The cheapest fence I can figure would cost around $200, and that's a lot for a small rose garden. It's also assuming I won't have to give in and buy a more expensive deer fence than the one I'd like to try first.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:55AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Catnip does spread via self-sowing but not overly so in my climate. It is a short-lived plant, almost biennial in nature and is not what I would consider invasive at all.

Deer are weird. You never know what they will decide to chew on. I had them nip out terminal buds young trees (not 1 but 2!) only to split the chewed parts out because they didn't like the taste. Rabbits too. They nipped down gas plants before they decided the plants were too foul and resinous to eat. Physical barriers are the best bet for the items you really want to safe guard.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 7:48AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Get an outdoor dog.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:01AM
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Rosecandy VA, zone 7

Good to know fatamorgana. I think I'll save up for a fence and maybe also put the detering plants in.

Seysonn, while that is an obvious solution, our family is not ready for another dog and possibly never will be.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 10:06AM
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