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The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

Posted by terrene 5b MA USA (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 26, 08 at 10:52

I've heard that Deer prefer to graze on native plants. There are deer in this area, but fortunately the population doesn't seem too large. They pass through the yard fairly regularly, because I see their tracks, but there is relatively little nibbling on my garden plants, and I am growing a lot of natives. They did munch down most of the Tulips this Spring (a non-native, of course).

Yesterday evening, I was gardening in the back yard, looked over and saw a Doe creeping along the property line with the next-door neighbor. She was munching on something quite intently. I was curious what she was eating over there?

The area where the Doe was grazing is kind of a free-for-all for invasive plants - but the Doe was eating a native that grows in the mix. This question is for fun and you guys will probably guess in 2 seconds. Can you tell which of the plants the deer was eating in this picture?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

I am not sure, but one came by my house last night and ate a clump of solomon's seal that was in front of the foundation shrubs. I didn't think they would get so close to the house.

RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

Esh, around here people are complaining that the deer sometimes eat their foundation shrubs right next to the house. I'm beginning to think that they will be into peoples' refrigerators next. Coyotes are said to be regaining some numbers around here and that they might start putting a dent in the deer population one day. We'll see.

RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

My 'guess' is that it was the maple seedlings. Right? Do I win?

The maples and the violets are the only 2 things I recognize as being natives.


RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

Sue, I wish the maple seedlings were native! Alas, they are Acer platanoides. (See the BIG tree the deer is behind? That is a Norway maple.)

It was the violets, so you're half-way right! They are Viola pubescens (not sure of the common name, but they are yellow and kind of pretty). There is a swath of Violets and a horde of Vinca minor on my side, colliding with a huge patch of Lily of the Valley on the neighbor's side. All three are pretty agressive, so they're duking it out. Too bad the deer doesn't like Vinca.

If the deer really like the Violets, I think I'll transplant some out back, where they will probably hold their own and provide a little forage.

You can see some nibbled stalks of the Viola on the left side of this picture -

When they bloomed -

RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

The deer eat hostas (non-native) in our area. I have plenty of those in the yard. In good years, like this one, they just eat the flowers. In bad years, they eat everything. They eat the varigated ones first. They eat the ones you paid lots of money for first, as well.

If they are eating violas, they are welcome to the ones that weed the "patch of green stuff we mow" but in our yard, they vastly prefer the hostas.

RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

I bought some inexpensive hostas (50 for $60, which included shipping) and planted them as decoy plants. It works fairly well. The deer prefer the hostas to most other plants, except perhaps for the giant Sol. seal, which they seem to adore. I do lose some Trilliums early in the season before the hostas are up. I sprayed some of that "deer off" type of chemical, which helped somewhat this season

When I was in the mts. last week, I noticed deer were working on the lilies, but they usually leave most of the trilliums alone. I did find a spot where bears had been camping out, and all of the plants there were bruised or give me deer any day, compared to the bears. At least the deer only snort at you when you come upon them!

RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

The deer eat everything here. I think they should read the deer resistant plants book!!! They come right up to the garden next to my house and eat shrubs, flowers, etc.

RE: The Deer seem to prefer Natives?

NCrescue, I like the idea of planting decoy plants or some type of forage for them so they will stay away from the gardens. This may work well depending on how many deer there are and how hungry they are!

Upon further observation in my yard, it seems they like both natives and non-natives. They still have not eaten much in the gardens, knock on wood. But in the wilder parts of the yard, they appear to have munched on -

Native -
Aster cordifolius (Blue wood aster)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's Seal)
Rudbeckia hirta (Black eyed Susans)

Acer platanoides (Norway maple) - the young shoots resprouting on a small tree cut last year
Hosta - a variegated plant in the neighbor's yard, this was munched on the worst of any plant so far

And I know they love the neighbor's Yews (non-native) which they forage on every winter, although some years are worse than others.

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