Deer/groundhogs - Knowledgebase Question

Media, PA
Question by MLSPONGA
April 17, 2001
WE HAVE JUST MOVED TO AN AREA WHERE DEER/GROUNDHOGS ABOUND. I WOULD LIKE TO PLANT TOMATOES/HERBS AND A PERENNIAL GARDEN BUT MY NEIGHBORS SAY "FORGET IT!" WHAT CAN I DO? WHAT PERENNIAL PLANTS WILL DEER/GROUNDHOGS NOT EAT? HOW CAN I PROTECT TOMATOE/HERB PLANTS? ARE THERE SOME THEY DON'T LIKE TO EAT?


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Answer from NGA
April 17, 2001

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Unfortunately, both of these pests can be voracious eaters.

For woodchucks, you can try repellent sprays and other deterrents, or use a sturdy wire mesh fence with the bottom laid outward underground to prevent them digging in under it, but in the case of groundhogs the best solution is usually to trap them. They are wild animals and are extremely unpredictable, their bites are terrible. I would strongly urge you to secure professional help in removing them from any area where people and especially children frequent.


In my garden, the deer eat, sample and trample without much discretion so they can do a lot of damage in a short time. Unfortunately there is no magic list to give you. Deer will learn to eat almost anything and their menu varies depending on what they have learned to eat so far. They are creatures of habit, so if they are dining at your house they will be likely to nibble on whatever you plant sooner or later. The best way to try to make a list is to check with your neighbors and see what they are still having success with and what they are not. Some gardeners also report success using the repellants (both home made and those that are commercially available), especially in areas where the browse pressure is not very severe. In my own sad experience, the only reliable solution over time is a tall fence.

However, there are some published lists of plants to consider. Keep in mind that deer are adaptive and will learn to eat new things. For example, foxgloves are on some lists but the deer ate mine, so the lists are starting points rather than absolutes. Also check to be sure that a listed plant will thrive in your area (many of these should.) Good luck!

Penn State published a list of plants (for a discussion about the list and the original, please see

http://www.penpages.psu.edu/pe... )

SOME COMMON DEER RESISTANT PLANTS

Scientific Name Common Name Scientific Name Common Name
Abies sp. + fir Heder helix g.c. English ivy
Acer negundo + box-elder Ilex sp. = holly
Ageratum* flossflower Iris sp. * iris
Ajuga* bugle weed Juniperus sp.= juniper
Aquilegia* columbine Kerris japonica = Japanese rose
Berberis sp.= barberry Larix decidua + European larch
Buxus= boxwood Lupinus sp.* lupine
Catalpa sp. + catalpa Maclura pomifera + Osage orange
Cercis sp. + redbud Narcissus sp.* Narcissus
Chamaecyparis sp= false-cypress Paeonia suffruticosa= tree peony
Clematis sp.* clematis Papaver orientalis * Oriental poppy
Cotinus coggygria +smoketree Picea sp. + spruce
Crataegus sp. + hawthorn Pinus sp. + pine
Cytisus scoparius=Scotch broom Rhododendron sp. rhododendron
Daphne sp. daphne Robinia pseudoacacia+ black locust
Delphinium* larkspur Symphoricarpos albus= snowberry
Digitalis* foxglove Syringa vulgaris= lilac
Ginkgo biloba + maidenhair tree Tulipa sp.* tulips
Gymnocladus dioica+ Kentucky coffee tree Yucca* Yucca
_____________________________________________________________________
+ tree or tree-like
* herbaceous plant
= shrubby
g.c. ground cover


West Virginia Extension offers a discussion of deer damage and a list of plants at

http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/ho...

Cornell University has also published a list and a discussion at

http://www.cce.cornell.edu/che...

I hope these help!



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