The Q&A Archives: Flowers Deer Won't Eat

Question: I am trying to locate a list of flowers (both annual & perennial) that deer won't eat. I've been in my 1st house for 1 yr now and am eager to plant lots of flowers! We have lots and lots of deer around. Last fall I planted daffodils, tulips, and crocus. I was confident about the daffodils, as it stated on the bag of daffodil bulbs: "deer won't eat." It was true, they didn't touch the daffodils. Not so, for the tulips, they were chomped down by the deer and than the bulbs were dug up probably by the squirrels and groundhogs. Not sure what happen to the crocus, they didn't come up. I just planted freesia bulbs this spring and plan to plant hyacinth bulbs in the fall. I hate to go to all this work and build so much expectation to see these plants be eaten! I know there is a list out there somewhere of flowers that deer won't eat, hoping you can provide it! Thanks!

Answer: I searched our database and found a variety of answers about gardening with deer. They follow in no particular order, but if deer are hungry, it's pretty much impossible to stop them without a fence. It has much to do with what other food is available to them. If you live in an area where the deer population is large, there may be more pressure to eat whatever is tender and available. If there are fewer deer, they could be more choosy.

Fences are usually the only guaranteed method of foiling deer, but a subscriber of National Gardening Magazine sent us this "new" tried and tested suggestion. "At a very young age, I was taught that one's success in the field depended on knowledge of the species of game hunted. As all hunters know, deer are creatures of habit. Deer will develop a pattern or habit of movement, using the same path for an approach direction and a second path for a departing direction. They'll repeatedly follow a familiar path until they sense or encounter some form of harm or danger there.
"I've discovered that a length of heavy strength monofilament fishing line, stretched across the approach path 24 to 30 inches above ground level and tied at either end to a half-inch willowly tree branch will stop an approaching deer. It appears that deer are confused by the unknown or unseen resistance and will change direction to avoid a questionable situation. Also, I've discovered that light-weight, noise-causing objects attached near the ends of the stretched lines will spook a deer away from the immediate area when they encounter the monofilament line. By studying the movements and changing the location of the stretched line each time they attempt a different approach, you can cause deer to avoid the area of doubtful encounters."

Burpee sells two products, "Deer Away", which is designed to repel deer. You can obtain some by calling Burpee at 1-800-888-1447.

Many gardeners use the repellant sprays with varying success, but they must be applied and reapplied according to the instructions in order to be as effective as possible. There are also many home remedies such as using soap, blood meal, human hair and so on.

Sprays of egg solids, hot pepper oil and other such ingredients are available and may help some, especially when the deer "pressure" is not too high. Human hair (from the local barber shop) in bags made of hosery and perfumed soaps
have worked for me when they had other options to feed upon. Finally, here are some sites that may help you find those plants they prefer to avoid. Keep in mind that plants recommended for another part of the country may not do well
in your area:

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