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How to Keep Deer From Eating Flowers

By Ruth de Jauregui

Deer slip through the shrubbery, saunter up the driveway or leap the fence to enjoy the gourmet feast your garden provides from spring until fall. Preventing deer from eating your flowers is not a simple task, but you can save your flowers by using a variety of techniques.

Block the View

A solid fence blocks the view into the garden, preventing the deer from seeing, for example, your prized 'Peace' roses (Rosa 'Peace'), which are perennial, or hardy, in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. A frugal option to a solid 6- to 8-foot-tall redwood or cedar fence is to attach reed fencing to metal or wood posts linked by 2-by-4-inch boards or metal wires.

Make Them Nervous

Deer are naturally nervous, watching for unfamiliar movement that might indicate a predator. Always on the alert, they shy away from random fluttering movements, such as shiny matallic ribbons blowing in the wind. Motion-activated sprinklers and lights may also scare deer away from a garden.

Add Predator Scents

Although cougars, wolves or bears are unlikely to visit your garden unless you live in a rural or semi-rural area, regular applications of predator urine, such as coyote urine, around the garden's perimeter will send the deer away. Reapply predator urine weekly and after rainy weather.

Other scented items that discourage deer from entering a garden are soaps with strong aromas and hung from shrubs and trees, and various homemade concoctions made from sulfur-scented raw eggs, garlic, hot sauce and other odoriferous or spicy substances. Although gardeners may swear by one recipe or another for a repellent, Colorado State University Extension reports that a mixture of 20 percent raw eggs with the white membrane removed from the yolks and 80 percent water, mixed well and sprayed on foliage up to 6 feet from the ground or snow level, is among the most effective repellents. It must be reapplied every 30 days.

A domesticated predator, the family dog, also discourages deer. Allowed to run free inside a fenced garden, it can prevent deer from enjoying a peaceful dinner. in the space. Size is not important: A noisy little Chihuahua or rat terrier is as effective as a Labrador retriever.

Plant Deer-Resistant Flowers

Even though no plant is completely deerproof, some flowering plant species are last on a deer's preferred menu. The essential oils in strongly scented foliage and flowers of some annual plants, such as pot marigolds (Calendula spp.) and annual sages (Salvia spp.) discourage nibbling.

Deer-resistant bulbs include daffodils (Narcissus spp.) and ornamental onions (Allium spp.). Both kinds of bulbs are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, depending on the cultivar. Deer are not attracted to rhizome plants such as common flag or German iris (Iris germanica), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 10.

Planting less-tasty herbaceous perennials and shrubs around more desirable flowering plants also can help conceal your favorite blossoms from browsing deer. The silvery foliage of lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) also provides a cool contrast to the green leaves and bright yellow flowers of basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis). Both are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. Flowering shrubs that provide blossoms without attracting deer include spirea (Spiraea spp.), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, and beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis), which thrives in USDA zones 5 through 9.

 

About the Author

 

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.