Do deer eat roses

Deer are beautiful creatures, but can also be quite a nuisance if they begin to eat your garden, berry patch, orchard, or your favorite flowers.

So what do you do about them?

Well, there are quite a few humane solutions that can help you get rid of deer from your garden. And that is what we have for you today.

Let’s get started.


1. Don’t plant things that tickle their taste buds

There are certain things that you can plant in your yard that is going to scream ‘endless buffet’ to a deer. By not planting too many of these things, it will help make your yard a little less attractive to them.

This might sound like bad news if you like some of the plants mentioned below, but that’s the compromise you should be willing to make.

Here’s the list of plants deer love, and therefore you shouldn’t plant:

  1. Hostas
  2. Daylilies
  3. Roses
  4. Azaleas
  5. Pansies
  6. Tulips
  7. Impatients
  8. Hydrangea
  9. Sunflowers
  10. Yew
  11. Wintercreeper
  12. Fruit trees
  13. Lettuce
  14. Beans or peas
  15. Berry bushes

These are plants that deer not only eat but will attract them to your property because of the colors and smell.

The last four on the list might be a huge bummer if you’re a food gardener because they are among the most popular plants to grow. But worry not, there are still other ways to deter deer.

2. If you have to, plant them close to your home

If you are someone who loves your fruit trees refuses to let deer dictate what to grow in your own yard, then good for you. (Just don’t be surprised when they still hang around.)

There is one easy thing you can do to protect your plants:

Plant them close to your home.

Deer are amongst the lowest animals in the food chain, they have many predators. So their natural reaction to seeing other creatures is to run and hide. It’s in their built-in defense mechanism.

So if you plant those plants close to your home, it’s more unlikely that they’ll take the risk and come nearby.

Plus, it’s easier for you to keep your eyes for nearby plants.

3. Grow strong-scented perennials

Deer have a very sensitive nose. It’s another one of their defense mechanisms against predators. In comparison, humans have 5 million scent receptors, dogs have 220 million, and deer have 297 million.

If you want to keep them away, then plant plants that have a strong smell. Even better if they can grow year-round, hence perennials.

Asparagus, horseradish, garlic, lavender, and chives are great perennial plants to deter deer. You can also plant non-perennials like thyme, sage, mint, ginger, rosemary, and parsley.

Keep in mind that there are no true deer-resistant plants other than the poisonous ones. If deer have no choice, they might eat them too.

4. Plant ‘uncomfortable’ plants around plants you want to protect

There are some plants that are not ideal for deer to dig through to get to the plants that they desire. Mainly plants that are prickly or feel different on your skin.

Some examples are fuzzy lamb’s ear, cleome, and barberries.

We humans don’t feel anything weird with the way these plants feel against our hand, but deer won’t enjoy it against their super-sensitive nose as they’re trying to rustle through them to get to the plant that they desire.

5. Substitute plants with a similar plant that deer don’t love

You’ve seen the list of plants that deer love. So instead of planting them, see if there is a similar plant that can take its place that is less appetizing to deer.

A very common substitute is trading tulips with daffodils. Okay, they don’t look similar, but daffodils are beautiful flowers that will still add the vibrant colors that most people plant tulips for. Not to mention, both plants come back year after year.

Another good substitute planting rose varieties with more thorns. The less thorny options may make gardening easier, but it also makes it easier for deer to eat them too. It is a bit in the gray area if we’re talking about humane methods, though, because thorny roses might hurt them.

So try to keep these substitutions in mind as you decide on which plants to use at your home this year.

6. Place a privacy fence or hedge about your garden

Placing a tall fence around your garden to help keep deer out is an effective method, but this option can be costly unless you choose to make a fence from pallet woods.

Using a deer-resistant hedge of shrubs around your property is also a great option. If you hide the enticing plants from their sight, getting into your garden becomes less enticing.

Some good options for hedge shrubs are boxwood shrubs, cherry-laurels, green giant arborvitae, and virescens western red cedars.

Keep in mind that just like the case with deer-resistant plants, there are no true deer-resistant shrubs. Deer might still eat it if they’re desperate enough.

7. Plant the deer’s favorite foods

Okay, this may sound counterintuitive. Just hear us for a second.

If you have a large property, it’s really hard to keep deer out of it, and installing a deer-resistant fence becomes a very expensive option.

The solution? Plant their favorite plants at the edge of your yard.

This will keep them from wanting to enter your yard. And if their belly is full, they will go away without ever disturbing you and your garden. Why risk entering an unknown place when you can get easy food, right?

One big downside to this method is that if your area has a lot of deer already, you’ll only make the problem worse for people around you.

8. Give them a little shock

There’s something called a static shock repellent.

The idea is to lure deer in with scent. Then give them a little shock. After they get shocked a few times, hopefully, it will send the message that they aren’t wanted there, and they’ll leave your property alone.

The product claims to be harmless to deer, but we’ll leave the decision to you about it being humane.

9. Take the bird feeder down

I know a lot of people love having birds in their yards. They put out lots of different bird feeders to attract them and then they get to watch them all day long.

I get why it’s a fun activity. The only problem is that bird feeders are easy food for deer. So you’re not only bringing in birds, but you are also enticing the deer to come too.

So if you want to keep the deer out of your garden and flowers, then take down the bird feeders.

10. Make a little noise

Deer are very skittish creatures. They don’t like noises, especially loud noises that are unfamiliar. So if you are having an issue with deer, then you can try making some noise.

There are lots of different options to make noise to keep deer at bay. You can make a wind chime out of tin cans or even buy one here.

You can also use fireworks or even the static from a radio. Just use a dial radio and place it in between stations. That loud static noise should be enough to scare off any deer in the area.

This approach may or may not work depending on the deer. Some deer don’t mind the noise if they’re desperate to get some food, and some eventually get used to the fake danger.

11. Shed some light on the subject

I have a funny memory with motion lights.

My grandmother would get so mad when a stray cat would walk across her car. So when she see paw prints on her windshield, it would drive her insane.

Finally, she got the idea to use a motion light and every time one of those stray cats would walk across her car under the carport, the light would come on. It stopped her stray cat problem.

The same can be the case for you with your deer problem. Motion sensor lights scare them so it should keep them away. Motion sensor lights can be purchased at any general merchandising store or here on Amazon.

12. Turn the sprinklers on

This would be enough to scare away a human, let alone a deer.

Just as there are motion-activated lights, there are also motion-activated sprinklers, which will make the getting-rid-of-deer job easy for you.

You can buy motion-activated sprinklers at a general merchandising store or here on Amazon.

13. Let the dog out

If you have a deer problem and a dog, then simply open your door and let your dog out.

That might sound almost too easy, but deer are very afraid of predators. So if they hear other animals they are most likely going to avoid the area. It’s a method proven by humans throughout the centuries.

14. Put your fishing line to use

Fishing line is great for many things more than just fishing. It can even be used to protect your plants against deer.

To do this, you’ll need to stake fence posts at around 15-foot intervals around your garden, or one at each corner for smaller gardens. Then at about two feet off the ground, tie the fishing line at the first post. Go to the next post, wrap your line 3-4 times, and go to the next post until you’re back to the first one.

Move another two feet from the first line and repeat the process until the last line is about 8-10 feet high.

The reason this method is effective is that deer can’t easily see something semitransparent so when they approach your garden and feel there’s an object, they won’t be able to judge how high the obstacle is for them jump over, so they won’t.

Here’s a video to guide you through the process:

15. Try some of these homemade repellents

There are so many homemade repellent options you can try, but the key to using any homemade option (or any option in this article, for that matter) is to keep switching them up. When a deer becomes familiar with your tricks then they’ll no longer work.

The first homemade repellent trick is hanging fabric softener strips or bar soap from your trees and plants. It is an unfamiliar smell and will trip up their scent and deter them from your property.

Next, try hot pepper sprays. That will mess with their sense of smell and their taste buds. Since it is unfamiliar, it will scare them away.

Other options like garlic, blood meal, or ammonia-soaked rags will impact their senses as well.

Keep rotating your methods and come up with a new one, you’ll be surprised how quickly deer get used to a certain smell.

All homemade repellents are based on smell to take advantage of their sensitive nose. So you can try anything that is strong-smelled, just make sure it’s not harmful to humans and other animals.

16. Use proven store-bought repellents

As I mentioned, you should rotate your repellent options or methods frequently so the deer don’t become used to it. This is still true for store-bought repellents.

If you’re not sure which product to buy, try the ones from this list of deer-repellent that we’ve reviewed.

17. Wrap your seedlings

When you first transplant your seedlings in your yard, it is very common that animals will make a snack out of them. Deer are one of them.

To avoid this, you can place netting over fruit trees, bulbs, and new bushes.

You can also add garden nets and tree protectors to go over other items you may have planted in your garden or orchard.

Wrapping your seedlings should hopefully help them so they won’t become a deer’s lunch.

18. Make a scarecrow

Scarecrows have been working for many, many years to keep pests out of the garden and to protect your harvest.

They are very easily made, or can be purchased here.

I must say, the only downside to a scarecrow is that they might take people off guard.

We used one our first year gardening, and I haven’t used one since. Every time I walked out in the garden it scared me half to death because I always thought there was someone standing in the middle of the garden.

So after I jumped all season long, I said never again. We switched to pie plates attached to sticks with string after that.

19. Cleanliness helps

By keeping your garden area clean, you are making it less homey for deer.

See, the deer will bed down in tall grass. So if you leave lots of tall grass around they’ll think it is there as a great bed for them.

Also, pick your fruits and vegetables immediately when they are ripe. If you leave fresh veggies just laying around, the deer will think it is a free meal for them.

Finally, discard your crops after harvest. Deer like the plants themselves too. So if you get rid of them as soon as you’re done with them then it should keep them out of your garden.

20. Create uneven ground

By creating unleveled ground (or at least make your ground appear unleveled) it’ll make it harder for deer to fool around on.

You can stack up pallets at the tree line to make it look like the deer have to climb things to get in or get out of the property. Because deer are not avid climbers, like a goat is, they prefer to not have to deal with those challenges and will move on to look for food elsewhere.

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Roses And Deer – Do Deer Eat Rose Plants And How To Save Them

There’s a question that comes up a lot – do deer eat rose plants? Deer are beautiful animals that we love to see in their natural meadow and mountain environments, no doubt about it. Many years ago my late grandfather penned the following in his little grade school Friendship Book: “The deer loves the valley and the bear loves the hill, the boys love the girls and always will.” Deer do indeed love the beautiful succulent growth they find in those meadows and valleys, but they cannot resist a rose garden if there is one close by. Let’s learn more about roses and deer.

Deer Damage to Rose Bushes

I have heard it said that deer look at roses like many of us do fine chocolates. Deer will eat the buds, blooms, foliage and even the thorny canes of rose bushes. They are especially fond of the new tender growth where the thorns are not so sharp and firm yet.

Deer usually do their browsing damage at night and occasionally you may see deer eating roses during the day. According to published information, each deer eats, on average, 5 to 15 pounds of plant material taken from shrubs and trees each day. When we consider that deer generally live and feed in herds, they can do an astounding amount of damage to our gardens, roses included, in a short amount of time.

Where I live in Northern Colorado, I cannot count the times I have gotten phone calls from fellow rose-loving gardeners in total despair about the loss of their entire rose beds! There is little one can do once their roses have been munched on by the hungry deer except prune down what is left of the damaged canes. Also, pruning out the broken canes and sealing all the cut ends may help.

Watering the rose bushes with a water and Super Thrive mix will go a long way in helping the roses recover from the major stress of such an attack. Super Thrive is not a fertilizer; it is a product that provides essential nutrients to the bushes at a time of great need. Do not apply large amounts of fertilizer, as the roses need some time to recover. The same is true after a hail storm or other like events that cause significant damage to rose bushes.

Deer Proofing Roses

If you live in an area that is known to have deer close by, think about protection early on. Yes, the deer do love roses, and it does not seem to matter if the roses are the popular Knockout roses, Drift roses, Hybrid Tea roses, Floribundas, Miniature roses or the wonderful David Austin shrub roses. The deer love them! That said, the following roses are considered to be more resistant to deer:

  • Swamp rose (Rosa palustris)
  • Virginia rose (R. virginiana)
  • Pasture rose (R. Carolina)

There are many deer repellents on the market too, but most need to be reapplied from time to time and especially after a rainstorm. Many things have been tried as deer repellents over the years. One such method involved hanging bars of soap around the rose garden. The bar soap method did seem to be effective for a while, then the deer seemed to get used to it and went ahead and did their damage. Perhaps, the deer were just hungrier and the scent of the soap was no longer a strong enough deterrent. Thus, the need to rotate whatever form or method of repellent used is important to achieve maximum protection.

There are mechanical gadgets on the market that act as protective deterrents, such as timed or “electronic seeing eye” items that cause a sprinkler to come on or a noise when motion is detected. Even with the mechanical items, the deer get used to after a while.

The use of an electric fence placed all around the garden is probably the most helpful deterrent. If it’s not tall enough, however, the deer will jump over it, so a trick of baiting them to the fence may be used if desired, which involves the use of peanut butter spread lightly onto the electric fence wire while it is turned off. The deer love peanut butter and will try to lick it off, but when they do so, they get a little shock that sends them in the other direction. A Rosarian friend of mine in Minnesota told me about the electric fence and peanut butter trick that he calls this the “Minnesota Deer Trick.” He has a great blog website located here:

In some cases, placing dog hair or dryer sheets around and through the rose bed has worked. Just remember that changing it up is important to its effectiveness.

Another method of deterrent protection to consider is planting a border around the rose bed of plants known to repel deer or are resistant to them. Some of these include:

  • Astilbe
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Coreopsis
  • Columbine
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Marigolds
  • Dusty Miller
  • Ageratum

Contact the Extension Service where you live or a local Rose Society group for more helpful information specific to your area.

The aim of this article is to teach you how to keep deer from eating roses!

Deer absolutely love these flowers and aren’t a bit phased by their thorns.

We’ve witnessed these animals mow down entire rose bushes in minutes.

Our goal today is to present you with some of the best deer repellent options so that you may finally stop the deer damage and restore your roses!

Below you will find 6 different categories of deer repellents with explanations on how they work.

Furthermore, there will be links to the complete product reviews along with where they can be bought.

Let’s have a look at some of these products:

  1. Ultrasonic Deer Repellents

When it comes to convenience, ultrasonic deer devices are certainly hard to beat.

Unlike some of the other items on this list, these require virtually no maintenance after they’re placed in your yard.

Ultrasonic repellers work by broadcasting specific frequencies that are bothersome to deer.

This is usually enough to persuade them to stay away from your roses and seek destruction elsewhere.

They are constructed of heavy-duty materials and can be left outside year-round.

Our favorite product in this category is the Pest Soldier Sentinel. It has integrated sensors to activate the unit when deer come near. It also has a very impressive coverage area of 5,000 square feet.

Another fantastic option is the Hoont Animal Repeller. This deer repellent device uses a built-in light to assist in repelling deer. Furthermore, it has an integrated solar panel to recharge the batteries so be sure to place this one in the sun!

Overall, you can’t go wrong with either of these options and it’s definitely a great way to get rid of deer for good!

  1. Deer Repellent Sprays

Next up is one of the best categories of deer repellents available.

These sprays repel deer by targeting their sense of smell and taste.

Natural ingredients such as rotten eggs and chili peppers are used to convince deer that your plants aren’t appetizing to them.

However, these smells are usually odorless to humans and don’t leave any residue or staining on your plants.

Some of our favorite deer repellent sprays are those made by Bobbex and Liquid Fence.

These companies have been putting out these sprays for a long time and have become some of the best in the business.

Their unique formulations have proved to be extremely effective in deterring deer.

We love deer repellent sprays and can’t say enough good things about them!

  1. Deer Repellent Granules

Granules such as Deer Scram are another great way to scare deer away from your roses.

Just scatter them on the ground around your rose bushes and deer normally won’t go near them.

Make sure to place them a few feet away from the actual plant so they don’t reach over and pluck those pretty roses!

These granules mimic the smell of dead deer which these animals aren’t too fond of.

They are comprised of organic materials and break down into a natural fertilizer when their useful life is over!

It’s a super convenient way to repel deer and one that we highly advise trying in your gardens!

  1. Deer Sprinkler Repellents

When the subject of sprinklers is broached, normally it refers to watering your grass.

However, in this instance, they’re effective, deer repelling devices.

These deer sprinklers use a friendly spray of water to scare deer away from your roses!

Deer sprinkler repellents have proved to be a great means for repelling deer and keeping them away!

Sensors detect when deer enter the vicinity and spray them up to 35ft away.

Several deer sprinklers may be linked together to provide additional security for your rose bushes!

These are an awesome way to repel deer and definitely one worth putting in your garden!

  1. Solar Deer Repellent Lights

Deer lights are a great deer repellent but must be used with another deterrent on this list.

The main reason for this is that they only work at night.

During the daytime, the lights are deactivated and these devices are in recharging mode using the integrated solar panels.

However, they are extremely effective at keeping deer away throughout the night.

Deer are deathly afraid of the light patterns these devices produce and as a result, don’t come near them.

These units provide incredible assurance that your roses will still be there in the morning!

We absolutely love them and think they are a worthwhile purchase!

  1. Deer Fences

Last but not least, deer fences are used if you want the highest level of security against deer.

These fences provide a strong, physical barrier that deer can’t get through.

A strong, mesh material is attached to fence posts around the outside of your garden to prevent deer from gaining access to your roses.

They are 7ft tall to account for deers’ incredible jumping ability.

We highly recommend that you try other deterrents on this list before resorting to a fence but in the event you need one, it will pay dividends for you!

This along with Deer Netting are very popular options among people with roses and for good reason; they work well!

Deer fencing is the only surefire way to give your roses 100% protection!

Bottom Line

The deer deterrents we discussed above are all phenomenal ways to stop the deer damage to your roses!

They were specifically designed with deer in mind and have tons of positive reviews.

After much due diligence, these deer repellents were some of the highest rated, most effective products on the market.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned products as they are some of the best available.

It’s a good idea to start off with the less invasive options like ultrasonic repellents and move toward the more serious options such as deer fences if necessary.

Most of the time deer can be dealt with by using simple deer deterrents that don’t require much effort at all.

We hope you enjoyed our lesson on how to keep deer from eating roses!

Please come back to let us know how these products worked for you!

Feel free to leave comments below!

Top 10 Deer-Resistant Plants

When hungry, deer will eat nearly any plant, but there are a few selections that gardeners can plant that are more off-putting than others to the four-legged ungulates. Deer are not fond of plants with waxy or sharp textures, those that are fuzzy or dry, or strong-smelling. They will usually leave these plants alone unless winter weather had been particularly harsh or there are severe drought conditions.

While no plant is 100% deer-proof, deterring them goes a long way. Why not consider adding these 10 beautiful deer-resistant flowers and plants to your garden this year?

If you’re looking for new shrubs to plant but want to deter deer, consider these varieties:

1 Roses

Roses (Rosa spp.) are the top pick for deer resistance due to their heavily thorned stems. Some cultivars are strongly perfumed, which may further discourage deer. Shrub roses may be excellent selections for beautiful hedges that keep the critters away.


2. Hawthorn

Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are small trees with attractive white blossoms and edible fruit. There are some thornless varieties, but most sport one-inch long thorns from the trunk and branches. Poisonous plants are not usually on the menu, either.


3. Foxglove

Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) has showy, tubular, often speckled blooms. Several cultivars exist, in a wide range of colors. Most foxgloves are short-lived biennials that may reseed themselves. There are some perennial varieties as well. All parts of foxglove plants are poisonous.


4. Monkshood

Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) is an attractive herbaceous perennial with dark purple blooms shaped like a monk’s cowl. The deadly poison from monkshood was used in ancient Greece and Rome on the tips of weapons such as javelins and darts.


5. Sea Holly

Sea Holly (Eryngium spp.) is often mistaken for globe thistle (Echinops spp., also a good deer resistant selection). Sea holly is highly tolerant of drought and saline soils. While sea holly doesn’t have thorns or spines, most cultivars are uncomfortably abrasive in texture.

Sea Holly

6. Lamb’s Ear

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina) is the opposite of abrasive: instead, it is a plant with leaves as soft as sheep’s wool. Eating lamb’s ear is like eating a blanket, which is why deer tend to leave them alone. The soft, gray-green leaves are highly attractive in the garden, and the pink, short-lived blooms that are borne on tall, furry stalks are conversation-starting oddities.

Lamb’s Ear

7. Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) is commonly used as hedging plants, but some species, such as rockspray C. horizontalis, are good specimen plants in a low border. Small, leathery leaves are unpalatable and the berries, while sometimes consumed by birds, are dry and not edible to humans, nor favored by deer.


8. Juniper

Juniper (Juniperus spp.) comes in both tall, upright, and low-growing groundcover varieties. They are strongly scented and flavored and difficult for deer to gnaw on due to their sharp needles. Groundcover junipers range in color from yellow to green to blue and are an attractive choice for many types of landscapes.


9. Chives

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) have a propensity to reseed freely, but in a deer-resistant garden, they are welcome selections when interplanted with other ornamentals or edibles. As a bonus, there are so many delicious dishes that use chives, from eggs to salads, and the flowers lend an onion-flavored zip to oils and vinegars.


10. Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula spp.) is a desirable scent for many gardeners, and it doesn’t hurt that the plants are extremely beautiful as well, with stalks of deep purple flowers. Deer, however, will usually pass on this useful herb.


A Few Notes

Bear in mind that deer may sample young, tender foliage and flowers and leave mature plants alone, and trees may be subjected to antler rubbing instead of eating, which can do quite a bit of damage to bark and lower branches—try using chicken wire wraps around the lower parts of the trunks to resolve that issue.

Be sure to check out our Gardening By The Moon calendar to see when to plant!

Are Hydrangeas Deer Resistant

A very common question we get asked, is if hydrangeas are deer resistant. The truth is, NO plants are deer resistant. If hungry enough, deer will eat just about any plant. However, there are plants that deer prefer more than others. According to Rutgers University, most hydrangeas are “occasionally severely damaged”. Which means that deer prefer other plants more, but when hungry deer will eat hydrangeas. They recommended adding repellent or extra protection, especially during winter months.

Several environmental factors will determine if you need to worry about deer munching on your plants. Growing deer populations and cities expanding are putting additional pressure on deer to find food. This is heightened during winter months when food is harder to find. In winter months, the exposed stems sticking out are what attract deer the most. Making hydrangeas that bloom on old wood especially susceptible to deer damage, as it could ruin the following year’s blooms.

Preventing Deer From Eating Hydrangeas

There are some species of hydrangea that are more deer resistant than others. Oakleaf hydrangeas and climbing hydrangeas in particular are not as appetizing to deer. We recommend planting these varieties if you live in an area with a dense deer population.

Deer Resistant Hydrangeas

  • Growing Zones: 5-9

    Gatsby Gal® Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 5-9

    Gatsby Moon® Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 5-9

    Gatsby Pink® Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 5-9

    Gatsby Star® Hydrangea

In winter months, you can cover hydrangeas to prevent deer from munching on the branches. This should also help provide extra winter protection to the plants. For hydrangea trees, be sure to cover the “trunk” of the plant, because deer like to munch on the bark.

You can also buy deer repellent spray to apply on the leaves and branches of hydrangeas. Typically you need to apply every 30 days to maintain protection. This is the easiest way to prevent deer from eating your hydrangeas.

In general, hydrangeas are definitely not a favorite for deer. However, we would never consider hydrangeas deer resistant or deer proof. Taking additional measures to prevent deer from eating your beautiful shrubs doesn’t require a lot of work, and shouldn’t prevent you from trying to grow hydrangeas in your garden.

Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018

This page contains affiliate links to products on Amazon. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

oThere’s nothing worse than plating your favorite hydrangea bush only to find out the deer love them as much as you do! I should know, as we planted 40 hydrangeas on our future home’s land and the deer ate most of them before we ever had a chance to enjoy them. Today I’ll share with you what I learned about how to stop deer from eating hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas are planted around the world and are available in dozens of species. Some are more likely than others to become deer food, but the truth of the matter is that if deer are hungry enough, they can eat just about anything.

How to Stop Deer from Eating Hydrangeas

If you are wondering how to stop deer from eating your plants, and specifically your precocious hydrangeas, you are in a large group of people. There are an estimated 30 million deer in the US, and 77% of American households are gardening. That means there are going to be a lot of situations where deer and people are going to interact. Those gardening stats come to us from the National Gardening Survey.

A record $47.8 billion dollars was spent on lawn and garden products in 2017, so having some deer chowing down on your plants and flowers is more than just frustrating … it can get expensive.

Here are a few proven tips to make your yard as deer-proof as possible and keep your beautiful hydrangea shrubs and climbing vines from becoming deer food.

1. Deer won’t eat this hydrangea variety

Climbing hydrangeas can reach heights of several dozen feet. This obviously puts them out of reach of hungry deer and other pests.

For whatever reasons, oakleaf hydrangeas don’t appear as tempting to deer as other varieties. The oakleaf variety produces white flowers (similar to the flowers of the climbing hydrangea), and you can use full-grown or dwarf plants.

Gorgoeus Native Plant,Huge Oak Like LeafRuby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea Gatsby Moon Oakleaf Hydrangea Little Honey Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea

2. Use this deer repellent recipe

Head into your kitchen and you can whip up a simple (and chemical-free) solution that won’t harm your plants. It also won’t hurt any deer or other animals that decide to give it a taste either, but it will sure make them seek yummier food.

Create this concoction:

  • one egg yolk
  • a litter of water
  • one teaspoon baking powder

Mix well and apply with a sprayer that has a head with a large hole or holes so that gooey mixture can get through. Spray every 2 weeks and after rain. This is a deer resistant solution for hydrangeas that works in all weather and especially well in hot and sunny areas. The deer will take a bite and give up because of the smell (an no, humans won’t smell the egg).

3. Soap up your landscape

Thinking about how to stop deer from eating hydrangeas may not get you dreaming about a perfumed soak in a hot bath. However, what refreshes you at the end of a long day of gardening has something in common with deer proofing your yard … perfumed soap.

No, you are not going to run deer off by bathing them. Instead, hang deodorant soap or your favorite perfumed soap on trees or plants near your hydrangeas. This is an old-school trick that works well to keep deer away.

4. Grow these plants near your hydrangeas

Plant lilies, pansies and tulips and you are basically saying, “All deer are welcome here.” Deer love those plants, as well as hostas and knockout roses, arborvitae, apple and cherry trees.

When you decide instead to plant daffodils and boxwoods, spirea and lavender, you send the opposite message. Those are a few plants deer usually steer clear from, as well as butterfly bushes and beautyberries, foxglove and poppies.

5. Use an electric fence around your hydrangeas

If you have lots of hydrangea plants, you might want to invest in an electric fence. Wrap this fence around them and enjoy your hydrangea blooms without worrying about deer.

6. Cover your hydrangeas in deer netting

Ross Deer Netting and Fencing Reusable (Protection For Trees and Shrubs From Animals) 7 feet x 100 feet Many gardeners have had success using deer netting. you can find this at your local Home Depot or Loews, but if they don’t have it, try amazon. (they have several inexpensive options) This netting is very light weight and almost invisible. Drape it on the bush and anchor it in the ground with some wooden stakes.

There’s only one disadvantage with this method: as your hydrangea bush grows, it will grow through the netting. and need careful removal when the flowers and leaves fall in the fall: a small price for having your hydrangeas all to yourself ;).

7. Keep a radio on in your hydrangea bush at night

As funny and as far fetched that sounds, it’s all my neighbor uses in his massive vegetable garden, and the deer never dare to come in. To make it easy, choose a solar powered radio and place it in the middle of your hydrangea garden. Then occasionally change the station. Problem solved!

I hope you can now enjoy your hydrangeas instead of fighting the deer for them.

Did you catch Bambi munching on your hydrangeas? Let me know in the comments section below: I’d love a picture of it to share here on the blog.

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Years ago when I was growing up on Altadena Drive, seeing a deer in Mt. Lebanon was unheard of. We would have marveled at such a thing. Truthfully, I am still amazed when I see the local herd making their way up the middle of our street. What are they doing here?
When Mt. Lebanon was developed there were no deer because our forests had been clear cut for lumber, and the deer had no habitat. In the ensuing years the picture has changed. The trees are mature; the shrubs in our landscape provide shelter, and our perennials provide food.

The deer are back.

The damage to our gardens, cars and even our picture windows are a constant reminder that we share habitat with undomesticated animals. So what is the concerned, law abiding, Mt. Lebanon citizen to do?

As an organic gardener, landscape designer and believer in sustainable agriculture, I consider it my sworn duty to learn viable ways to protect gardens from predators. I began several years ago to experiment with devices, systems, and plantings that would give my garden half a chance against a herd of one-ton, cloven-hoofed eating machines. I believe my experience can help my fellow Mt. Lebanonites fight the good fight.

So what’s the plan? First, admit wildlife is here to stay. Second, get out your arsenal of sprays, devices and deterrents. And third, think like a deer.

Work Smart—Not Just Hard

A natural barrier of twigs around plantings can dissuade deer.

Put up a fence Mt. Lebanon ordinance does not permit us to erect a permanent fence tall enough to keep the deer from jumping into our yards, so why am I still talking about fences? With a bit of ingenuity, your 4-foot fence can help a lot. How? A 4-foot fence becomes a real barrier, if there are deer resistant shrubs planted all around the inside perimeter and your border is at least 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Why? Deer do not like to jump unless they can see clearly where they are going and perceive they have a good solid place to land. If you put a shrub barrier in place, chances are very good they will not jump your fence.

Vinyl netting deer fence is an option These sturdy, black vinyl netting fences have advantages. One of the most important to Mt. Lebanon residents is they are not considered permanent, so no permit is necessary. They are practically invisible and fairly easy to install, because they are flexible and go right around a prize tree or shrub. The fencing comes in several heights. We used a 5-foot fence and sturdy “T” posts sunk at least 12 inches in the ground.

Use “deer resistant” plants such as Annabelle Hydrangeas.

Research deer resistant plants An Internet search is the best place to do this; simply type in “deer resistant plants.” Be aware that success varies from region to region and even neighborhood to neighborhood. Choose plants that bloom on new growth like Hydrangea paniculata “Limelight,” hydrangea arborescens “Annabelle” and the newer cultivars of hydrangea macro phyla, like “Endless Summer,” which bloom on both old and new wood. The deer can eat these to the ground in the winter, and they will send up fresh stems in the spring and bloom in the summer—with some spraying of course.

Place a barrier of sturdy twigs stuck in the ground around a new plant. This will dissuade the deer from putting their heads down to eat, because they don’t like to have their eyes poked.

Put your dog to work Dogs are not allowed to chase the deer in Pennsylvania; however, they are permitted to bark ferociously and run back and forth in a menacing fashion. Remember, though, that does can be fiercely protective of their fawn.

Think location, location, location Some plants are eaten in the depths of my backyard but aren’t touched in the more public front yard.

Make your yard uncomfortable Last winter, I noticed the Shadowlawn herd bedding down in our shrub bed out front, so came up with a very low-tech plan. We simply cut the branches off the Christmas tree and laid them on top of the bed. Blue spruce is really prickly, and the deer have not been back since.

Experiment with sprays, deterrents and devices

Repellents The trick to repellents is continuity of use and using two different kinds simultaneously. I use a combination of two products, one in wet weather and one in dry weather. In our rainy spring weather I have found PredaSCENT to be invaluable. This product is encapsulated hydrocrystals soaked in coyote urine. It is recommended this product be used on the perimeter of your property. When it rains the capsule gets wet and breaks open; the hydrocrystals plump up, and the scent wafts through your garden. Humans can’t smell it, but the deer can. The second product is Deer Solution, which uses cinnamon oil to mask the scent of the rotten eggs and coyote urine. I use a hose end sprayer, and douse my whole yard once a month. I also keep a small spray bottle ready for an emergency. Both of these products are environmentally friendly and can be purchased at Rollier’s.

Tree guards can prevent bucks from using the trunks to remove the fuzz from their antlers in the fall.

Tree Guards In the late summer when the bucks are growing antlers, they like to rub the fuzz off the antlers, and a nice young specimen tree is dandy for such an activity. Tree guards will do the trick and can be saved and re-used year after year. Some are wraps; some clip together; some are like firm plastic netting. Once the caliber of the trunk is too large for the bucks to use, they will leave it alone.

Motion sensor spray This device hooks up to your hose and operates on batteries. When it senses motion, it sends a strong spray of water out over the area, scaring predators away.

Think Like a Deer

Deer are opportunists. They eat what is easy to find and available. They also establish routes and patterns. Next, they bring the offspring, and pretty soon your yard is the established eatery of the neighborhood. Make sure your property is not on the road to their dinner. If you see a deer and they have found food in your yard, figure that deer will come back unless you make it harder.

Finally, no matter how hungry the deer look, don’t feed them. You are not doing the deer, yourself or your neighbors any favors. You are actually bringing diseases and parasites into your yard that can transfer to your pets and your children. The deer will over-browse the area where they are fed, leaving your yard and your neighbor’s yard looking like a no man’s land. When well fed, they produce more offspring. In Mt. Lebanon we live close together, so deer feeding will occur near roads, putting the deer directly in the line of fire with traffic when traveling to and from the food source, often causing crashes and injuries—human as well as deer. Even worse than the deer that are killed are the ones that have been hit and are now lame and in pain. It’s best to just say NO to feeding the deer.

Claire Schuchman is a Phipps Master Gardener and teaches at CCAC. Contact her at [email protected]

Animals That Eat Petunias

Petunias (Petunia spp. and Petunia x hybrida) are simple-to-grow, colorful additions to a flowerbed. They’re also favorites on the menu of several kinds of animals, with rabbits and deer topping the list of unwanted diners. One insect in particular is infamous for its attraction to petunias. Petunia plants are tender perennials, with hybrid varieties hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 10.


If your new petunias disappear overnight, the first among the usual suspects should be the rabbit. Rabbits apparently think of petunias as a salad ingredient. You have six options of varying degrees of effectiveness to keep rabbits from your petunias:

  • The most effective method is to block rabbits from petunias by using a chicken wire fence with 1-inch-diameter or smaller holes. The fence should be least 2 feet high and buried at least 3 inches deep.
  • Remove patches of weeds, piles of brush and stones or other debris that rabbits might use to hide. This is especially effective in cities and suburban areas.
  • Pour a thin line of blood meal in a perimeter around your petunias.
  • Use a kitchen flower sifter to sprinkle chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, raw ground limestone, talcum powder or wood ashes on your petunias when they are wet.
  • Get a yard dog or cat.
  • Plant your petunias in tall planters, window boxes or hanging baskets to put them out of rabbits’ reach.


Whether they’re white-tailed deer in the U.S. East or mule deer in the West, deer browse on flowers, including petunia blooms.

You can string a barrier of black polynetting around your petunias. It may be less visually less distracting than a wire fence.

For a simple repellent that La Planta County, Colorado, calls “Not Tonite, Deer,” blend one raw egg in 2 quarts of water. Spray the mixture on the leaves of your petunias. With time, the petunias will have the odor of rotten eggs to deer, which will leave the plants alone. Humans detect the odor for only several minutes after the spray is applied. Repeat the application every several days or after it rains.

A more complicated but more potent variation requires blending one egg, 1 tablespoon of lemon-scented dish-washing soap, 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and two dashes of hot sauce with 1/2 cup of whole milk. Combine those ingredients with 1 gallon of water, and spray the mixture on petunia leaves once every 10 to 12 days.

Tobacco Budworm

An insect called the tobacco budworm can be devastating to petunias. Studies conducted by entomologists at the University of California found that Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a biological control agent, is effective in controlling tobacco budworm. That creature’s attraction to petunias has made the plants less popular than they previously were for home gardeners.

The caterpillar, or larva, of the tobacco budworm moth, found mainly in the U.S. Southwest and East, bores into buds and blossoms, hence its name. It also eats and leaves and stems.

Yellow or greenish-yellow with a lateral brownish stripe on both sides of its body, a tobacco budworm caterpillar grows up to 2 inches long and has a toothlike projection on its jaws. The caterpillar emerges and begins eating plants in spring, maturing into into a brownish moth tinged with green. The moth’s front wings are crossed with three dark bands that have cream-colored or white edges.

Bt is derived from a naturally occurring bacterium found in soil and in the guts of moths and butterflies. It is approved for organic gardening.

Ready-to-use Bt sprays are sold in aerosol cans at many garden-supply centers and plant nurseries. Tobacco budworm caterpillars have to eat Bt for it to work. Spray the caterpillars, not the moths, with Bt. Spray Bt when you first see them on your petunias. Shake a can of the spray before using it, and then spray both the tops and bottoms of infested leaves. Repeat the application once every five to seven days until they’re gone.


Foraging chickens have many benefits in a flower garden. They eat insects. Their manure enriches the soil. They also peck at petunias.

There is a reason for the term “chicken wire.” Chicken wire fences are used to keep foxes out of and chickens in the fenced areas. If you have free-range chickens, then blocking them out with chicken wire is about all you can do to protect your petunias. You can encircle your petunias with chicken wire or build a chicken wire fence.

A fence that is 24 inches high may block rabbits, but not chickens. Chickens have wings, and the fence needs to be at least 40 inches high.

Mice and Squirrels

Although they are not on the top of the list of usual petunia-eating suspects, mice and squirrels may find petunias attractive.

Mice and squirrels hate castor oil. To deter them, mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and 1 tablespoon of caster with 1 gallon of water, and pour the solution over the soil around your petunias. Rain may wash the solution away, forcing you to reapply it.

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