Deer Resistant Plants

chudockApril 13, 2008

Hi, I was wondering if anyone can give any advise on deer resistant plants and flowers? I live on the border of Monroe and Carbon Counties and know that the deer are emmense in this area. I would like to plant flowers and plants that they might not like so much. Any suggestions?

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Check this link -

I will say though, that the deer near my house will eat ANYTHING when they are hungry.


Here is a link that might be useful: deer resistant plants for PA

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 6:54PM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

Deer will eat anything when they are hungry (they are hungriest in winter), and they tend to eat a little bit of anything that they pass by. Deer will have pathways they follow through your yard, and plants along those paths are far more likely to be eaten than plants not along the path. In my yard, deer cross the lower end of the yard daily. They visit other parts of the yard, too, but the lower end is a place where 6 or 8 deer walk by at least once per yard (I always see them go south, so they must return north, perhaps by the same route at night when I can't see them). Adjacent to where the deer walk, plants get browsed a lot more heavily than elsewhere in the yard, including plants that deer don't really eat elsewhere. Raspberries at the lower end of the yard are often browsed right to the old stem (all leaves and flowers eaten) while in the rest of the yard they are untouched. So, if you try a plant and it is browsed by deer, you might try the same plant again in a different spot, and perhaps you'll be able to grow it there. You can, to some extent, change the way the deer move by placing fences or other impediments in their way. Like the rest of us, they are lazy and will avoid even a low fence if there is another way around. Most fences aren't 100% effective, but you don't need 100% elimination of deer, just enough to keep the browsing to a manageable level. My 4 foot split rail with wire mesh fence keeps deer out of the garden about 95% of the time, even though they can easily jump it when they have a mind to.

New plants always seem to be more attractive to deer, so protect new shrubs, and try to grow perennials instead of annuals. Annuals are new every year, while perennials are new only once, and thereafter are not as attractive to deer.

Finally, some plants are simply too well liked by deer to be grown in any rural location. Yews are a good example - deer will go out of their way to browse yews, and yews are green in the winter when food is scarce. It is unusual to see a japanese yew growing in the country that isn't heavily browsed, and native Yew (Taxus canadensis) seems completely gone from most of PA, although records show that it once grew throughout the state.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 1:30PM
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I live in Monroe at border of Pike. We have 7-plus acres in the woods, and deer are horrible here. Things that are not eaten a few miles away are munched to the nub here. It is truly a geographical thing with deer -- I've had failures with plants that others have sworn by. Deer in one place will eat stuff they won't touch elsewhere.

With that caveat, here are the plants on my tried-and-true list. Bulbs: crocus, daffodils. Grasses: all. Many aromatic herbs (but not basil) -- watch out for mint; it's very invasive. That said, nepeta catmint is a very nice one and serves me as a perennial. Annuals: almost none that I've found. Shrubs: pieris andromeda, leucothoe, barberry. Perennials: hardy geranium, lavender, lamb's ear, lychnis, globe thistle, dicentra, peonies.

None of these are bothered by deer. Every now and then I'll find a chewed leaf or a severed frond from one of these plants, but it's usually spit out on the ground nearby.

I also grow the following plants, with heavy applications of Deer-Out (highly recommended; $33 for a concentrate bottle. Not Deer-OFF, Deer-OUT): Hosta, clematis, rose, tulip, lily, tons of annuals, honeysuckle, small cherry tree, contorted filbert (corkscrew hazel), azaelea, rhododendron.

This lot routinely gets eaten pretty heavily if I forget the spray. But I continue to suffer.

Light fencing hasn't worked; we don't have $$ for heavy-duty fencing on such a large property (and have never seen the point of fencing off an enclosed area within our woods). But if you do have the money, I'd suggest making the investment. Otherwise you can spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on plantings that will be decimated overnight.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 11:13PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Here's a list of flowering plants deer don't touch in my garden:

Russian Sage
Lambs Ears
Miscanthus (an ornamental grass)
Rose of Sharon
Bearded Iris
Mints (there are some nice new varieties)
Any type of spirea

Good luck and happy gardening!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 8:16PM
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Ah, but in my garden I've lost a few rose of Sharons and lilacs to the deer! I totally gave up on rose of sharons, and have two lilacs that I must spray at least once a week to keep alive!

It's truly regional with those dratted beasts...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 12:48AM
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dratted beasts?

They probably think the same thing about us. Knocking down trees by the truck load, leveling the land and building more "brand-new, pre-fabbed" homes that DO NOT need to be built! I wish the home builders would stop destroying the natural habitats of the animals.

Any people wonder why the animals are eating their plants and knocking over the garbage and eating it, What else are they to do? Humans are destroying their homes. I guess it is only fair!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 1:19PM
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I live in the woods, and am mostly surrounded by thousands of acres of state forest and open space. Deer are NOT losing their habitat in this state; in fact, there are more deer in the state than ever before. This is because we've killed off or severely reduced their natural predators (wolves, pumas, coyotes) and because we have created a virtual food bonanza for them in the form of cute suburban lawns and forsythias. And also because hunters are obsessed with shooting bucks and have no interest in shooting does, who are popping out fawns as fast as they can.

Here's what the Pa. Game Commission says:
"Deer are a valuable natural resource, but they must be closely managed or they'll quickly overpopulate the range they inhabit. When overpopulation occurs, deer strip their habitat of its life-supporting qualities, not just for deer, but for many woodland wildlife species. Crop and other property damage problems also increase, as well as deer-vehicle collisions."

I can shoot a bullet through my seven acres at shoulder height and see clear through to a target at the other end. Why? Because the deer are stripping every shrub and sapling within reach. This is NOT good for anyone or anything. Smaller forest creatures have no habitat to shelter in, and the forests are losing valuable hardwoods that deer prefer to chomp on.

Oh, and the million-plus deer in Pennsylvania are actually competing with each other to survive, there are so many of them. It's nuts!

Please, don't feel sorry for Bambi. He's doing just fine. Too fine, in fact.

More cites:

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 7:20PM
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In your first sentence, I think you are backing up pretty much what I said before. We, as humans, have destroyed natural habitats, causing deer, as well as their natural predators, to relocate and the natural balance be thrown off. We, as humans, have done this, not the deer. We, as humans, have caused the deer to get closer to us as the deer really do have less and less place to go. They are doing the same things our ancestors did millions of years ago, adapt and evolve. If that did not happen, we would not be here.

The simple thing would be to give the natural habitats back, but that will never happen.

What I am trying to say is to conserve the natural habitats as once they are gone, they are gone!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 1:27PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

We get lots of deer damage. The only deer proof plants we have are lavender, hellabore and daffodils.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 10:10AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

My wife told me to add yucca to the deer proof list.

I have never seen damage to spruce. I am told that I am just lucky about the spruce.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 12:59PM
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ofionnachta(z6 WNJ)

I have always heard that deer love to eat yew, but we have an old yew in front of our porch that in 23 years of our living here has never been touched--while they eat tulips just a few yards away. My neighbor is having a heck of a time with deer eating things in her garden, but except for some daylily & tulip leaves just when they were first coming up, my yard is so far---knock wood--untouched. I guess it is that creature-of-habit thing.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 2:59PM
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Do they eats mums?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 11:33AM
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ferncreek(z6b / 7a PA)

Yes! They absolutely eat mums. Until mid July, I let them, since I'd be pinching them back anyway. Then I start spraying them regularly, & they bloom all nice & full in Oct & Nov.
Deer also eat my lilacs, daffodils, Kerria & spruce (all of which are "supposed" to be highly deer resistant).
What deer don't eat on my property is a small list, but they almost never touch any Helleborus, Pieris, Nepeta, Lavandula, & ornamental grasses. They usually don't want the Perovskia, Ceratostigma, Potentilla, ferns, & Geranium macrorhizum (but they eat all the other Geranium species).
The other things I have planted get eaten to a moderate degree if I don't spray, & I don't even bother with hostas, daylilies, tulips & other deer favorites.
I'm told deer don't much care for barberry, butterfly bush or Japanese spirea, but I won't plant any of them because of their invasiveness & harm to surrounding native plant areas.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 8:48PM
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I worry as they are starting earlier this year than last, and that's been a pattern, each year earlier. Last year they weren't hitting us hard until January... this year it's already. I have these Deer No-No's from Gardeners supply, don't know if they'll do a thing. They seem to love Firethorne, maybe as it's a member of rose family?

They can't be hunted here as houses are so close. Do they have ANY predators anymore besides cars?


    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 9:51AM
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