Update on Vicks Vaporub to repel deer

mosswitchJune 21, 2013

Still experimenting with Vicks around my hostas and daylilies, have gone to putting a short stake in each hosta and smearing it with Vicks. No deer damage so far, not since I have been using it! No rabbit damage either tho I have seen a couple of rabbits almost as big as my cat, just outside the back gate. But not in the woods!

And a friend who has a big deer problem told me they were eating the buds on her daylilies, I suggested she try it, she did and there have been no more deer in her yard for the three days after she applied the Vicks to the buds and stems!

I'm loving the stuff!

Sandy

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weekendweeder(5A NY)

Sandy can you explain/show us a photo of how you place the stake in the hosta? Is it hidden between the leaves? Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 10:21AM
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mosswitch

I just used a bamboo stake with some Vicks smeared on the top third, it sticks up above the foliage. Here's one in Deane's Dream, and this is right inside the gate in "deer country".

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 10:56AM
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weekendweeder(5A NY)

Thanks for posting that. It almost looks like an old scape that from last season. Wonder if you will have to reapply after it rains. Glad you're having success with it!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 11:05AM
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mosswitch

I reapply it every couple of weeks just to be sure but it does last through at least a couple of rains.

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 11:12AM
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ctopher_mi

I do the same with bamboo stakes during the winter for shrubs like oak leaf hydrangeas and within my coral bells, as those get eaten in the winter (minus vicks vaporub). We don't have summer problems using liquid fence as a perimeter spray, but in the winter the deer come in a lot more. The bamboo stakes alone prevent the deer from lowering their heads to eat the plants, much like the leftover flower stalks can prevent them from eating things in the spring. It makes me wonder if it is more the bamboo and less the Vicks? Can you still smell the Vicks after a few days? Just wondering :)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 3:58PM
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mosswitch

Chris, I've been using the bamboo stakes for a couple of years to keep them from munching, as you say the deer don't like a poke in the nose with a sharp stick (after observing that they quit eating the daylilies after the flowers were gone and the sharp bare stalks were left sticking up), but that wasn't a hundred percent effective and didn't deter the rabbits. The deer still came into the woods. I tried Liquid Fence and several other repellents and they weren't a hundred percent effective either. Now the deer haven't come into the garden at all. I also smear some on the gates and fences, and even on the tree trunks at the edges of the woods garden. I know they are out there in the fields behind me as I see tracks outside the garden and I have seen them browsing back there, even startled a fawn not 20' from the back gate.

Now it's only one stick per plant, and I put some Vicks on the trunks and branches of the small trees like a young apple tree, small dogwoods and oak leaf hydrangeas, and an evergreen dogwood that they had nibbled down to a nub. No more damage there, either.

I was putting a bit on the hosta leaves directly, but I noticed I could see the smears on the yellow and blue ones, so I started putting it on the bamboo stakes instead.

I can't smell the Vicks myself but apparently the deer can. I heard on a PBS program about deer recently that they have noses 800 times more sensitive than a dog so they must find the smell pretty offensive.

I read about it from a daylily grower who protects her crops with Vicks and she found that it works. So I thought what the heck, why not? Cheap, easy, and can't hurt to try it! I also put a little on some daylily buds outside the fence, that they always eat, and they haven't touched them this year either. Neither have the rabbits; or ground hogs, for that matter.

Last fall I resorted to cages over the hostas, but I didn't really care for the looks of that even though it worked, and the plants outgrew the cages anyway.

I'm still keeping my fingers crossed but so far there has been no deer damage and no tracks inside the garden at all this year since I started using it, and that is just nigh on a miracle. Still not confident enough to take the cages off some of the more expensive hostas, but there are many among them without cages now and they haven't been touched. Even little Lemon Lime that they ate to the ground last year is thriving uneaten.

I hope somebody else will experiment with it too, I'd like to hear about results more than just mine. I wonder if putting it on a perimeter fence would be enough to keep them from coming in? Or if they get used to it? One spring, one garden isn't enough to prove an experiment.

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 6:09PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

throw some DE around.. see if it works.. lol ...

just joking.. i just finished your other post .. lol

maybe if you spread it all over the leaves .... it will irritate their throats and they will choke to death on your plants....

so you will have all these carcases around.. and the flies will be driving you crazy.. so you can spray them down with a fungicide ....

ok.. i am on a roll.. and worried you are not laughing ... forgive me ...

ken

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Ladybug6163(5)

Sandy, I am also trying the vicks after the deer took out three of my plants plus nibbled on a few others. Since I applied it last week I haven't seen any more damage from deer but I did notice on some of the thinner leaves it seems to have burned them. I think I may have put it on too heavy so I will be trying the stakes next. Thanks for posting the tip will see how the rest of the summer goes.

Debbie

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 7:30PM
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ctopher_mi

I wonder if it would repel turkeys too. They've done more damage this year than the deer have.

Fortunately I do have really good luck with liquid fence and after training the deer to go around us we now only apply it twice a year.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 7:46PM
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dgregory_so.cntrl.IL_zone6a

Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Chris, if you don't hunt, maybe invite someone who does to...erm...work on that tom and hen problem. Apparently MI 2013 Fall turkey hunting season opens Sept. 15.

Geez Louise, Ken, you're sure wound up tonight!
:-P
Deb

Here is a link that might be useful: michigan turkey hunting schedule

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 8:21PM
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mosswitch

I don't believe turkeys have much of a sense of smell, Chris. Didn't know they would go after hostas, tho. There are some on the far edge of the woods by the freeway, about half a mile from us, but they never come this close. I hear them sometimes.

Haha Ken I am laughing at you, wondering if I could toss you on the driveway and drag you around for a while if you would behave.......lol!

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 8:25PM
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serenitycove

I've been trying the Vicks on mine this year as well. So far it seems to be working. I didn't like seeing the smears on them so I started applying it to the underside of the leaf. I use liquid fence too so between the two I have not had much damage. I didn't think about spraying around the perimeter of my yard. I might try that too.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 10:15PM
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egflynn

I'm definitely going to try this as a rabbit repellent. Frances Williams will be the test subject. Keep happy thoughts for her -- the rabbits around here are total jerks.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Jon

Sounds great. I am gong to see if I have or buy some strapping or other dry porous wood and use that in the hope that the Vicks would soak into the wood and maybe last longer.

How about taking plastic cups and tacking them onto the wooden stakes to minimize washing away during rains. Smearing the wood and the inside of the cup might make a deterrent that would last for months. Watering would not be a problem either....hmmmm?

Jon

Frances Williams is a target for deer in my yard as well.

This post was edited by jonnyb023 on Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 9:20

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 9:19AM
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mosswitch

It doesn't wash off with rain or watering , but I think it loses strength after a while. I just reapply periodically, takes little time. I just carry a jar with me when I go on my morning garden walk, and smear a little on the sticks as I go by, and on gate posts and fence rails for good measure. Too easy!

I keep a jar on the potting bench and one on a stump that I use for a table next to a garden bench in the woods, so it's always handy.

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:22AM
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Jon

I'm thinking that I will put short sticks in the ground, take plastic cups and poke holes in them with nails low on the side and bury the plastic cups in the mulch. The smell will emit out of the holes and although you don't think the rain washes it out, Sandy: I am thinking it must to some extent.

Jon

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:46AM
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ci_lantro

I was thinking about using felt...either felt 'tags' smeared with Vicks or little pouches sewn up on three sides to stuff the Vapo-Rub in. I know that I have Christmas green felt but a mossy green would be better. Then the felt could be 'threaded' onto some kinda' stiff wire, like clothes hangers, and the wire poked into the soil near/ around/ inside of the plant.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 3:47PM
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mosswitch

You all have some interesting ideas, I hope you will report back as to how well they work.

I don't think it washes off easily, but it might melt in the heat. It is petroleum jelly after all, just with eucalyptus and other pungent things in it. More experimenting is in order but so far it works for me!

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:43PM
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critter-ridder(5b)

Therre is a product on the market called "Deer Out" (NOT deer-off) that has worked for me the last 2 years. One application lasts 3-4 months and it is guaranteed to work by the company. Just thought someone would be interested.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 11:06PM
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mosswitch

I saw that ad on the bottom of the gardenweb hosta forum page. Wondered what was in it.

I looked it up. Their site says: Deer Out's⢠strong peppermint scent creates a cool menthol burning sensation that deer are repulsed by. Sounds like it has the same ingredients as Vicks........Hah.

Sandy

This post was edited by mosswitch on Sun, Jun 23, 13 at 11:05

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 11:00AM
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