Oh Deer! Don’t Eat My Garden

You worked hard to get your planters and gardens prepared, planted, and growing. Then as they are beginning to bloom and thrive you go out and find the deer arrived. Within one growing season, they have stripped the garden of every bloom, trampled, and destroyed everything you worked so hard to create. It’s heartbreaking. What can you do?

A few facts about deer: They are herbivores, meaning they only consume plants, and if they are hungry enough, they will eat any plant in sight. Moreover, a deer eats an average of 12-14 pounds of vegetation every day! And deer have a hard upper palate (a hard surface of gristle) allowing them to chomp down on rose thorns without a care in the world.

Deer love to procreate. A doe can give birth to one fawn its first year of life; two to four every year from then on. Therefore, over their fifteen to twenty-year lifespan, a doe could have forty or more offspring. And with no natural predators, they’re the gift that just keeps on giving.

Fences do not stop deer either. They can jump 8-12 feet and get right into your garden and they have a strong sense of smell. From several hundred yards away, they can whiff the sweet fragrance of flowers and come right in for a snack. Plants with a high-water content are their favorites – roses, hostas, daylilies, rhododendrons – all the principal plants we like in our gardens


So how do I keep deer out of my garden? Here are some tips:

  • Spray flowers and shrubs with a deer repellent such as Deer Be Gone, Liquid Fence, or Bonnex. Re-spray after rain.
  • Make your own deer repellent.1 raw egg, ½ cup milk, 1 tablespoon of dish detergent, one gallon of water. -spray after rain.
  • Get a motion detector. Some spray water; some emit noise. Both work.
  • Keep your garden clean., rotting fruit and leaves are snack-bars for deer.
  • Sorry but no plant is 100% deer-proof. If they’re hungry enough, they will eat anything.
  • A natural remedy that I and many area master gardeners have found to be the most effective of all: IRISH SPRING SOAP You think it smells bad? Deer think it’s horrible – it works well for you as it does for us!
    **Put a full bar in an old stocking and hang it about four feet from the ground**

I have included a list of plants that have proven to be the most resistant to deer in our area. They are available at local nurseries or box stores. You will notice that the fragrances of these plants are much stronger and spicier than the sweet fragrances deer prefer. You will also notice that many are herbs. Maybe that’s one reason herb gardens are so popular in this area aside from the edible gardening aspect.

It’s a fact. Deer are a part of gardening in Van Zandt County. However, you can be successful in your garden, if you are persistent and plant the best plants for your location.

Here is a list of Plants That THE MOST DEER RESISTANT

  • Daffodils
  • Forsythia
  • Lilac
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Marigolds
  • Zinnias
  • Iris
  • Lavender
  • Snapdragons
  • Virginia Bluebells
  • Hyacinths
  • Columbine
  • Ferns
  • Heuchera
  • Ajuga
  • Lambs Ear
  • Perennial Hibiscus
  • Cleomes
  • Cosmos
  • Gloriosa Daisies
  • Lantana
  • Nicotiana
  • 4 o’clock
  • Money Plants
  • Dames Rocket
  • Dianthus
  • Ornamental Sages
  • Verbena Bonariensis
  • Phlox
  • Goldenrod
  • Allium and Chives
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Mint
  • Catmint
  • Thyme
  • Russian Sage, Pineapple sage
  • Lemon Balm
  • Rue
  • Moon Flowers and Morning Glories
  • Rudbeckias – Black Eyed Susan’s
  • Mexican Daisies –Tithonia
  • Perennial Begonias
  • Poppies – poisonous
  • Astilbe
  • Monarda – anything with a square stem
  • Gladiolas
  • Lily of the Valley, Foxgloves, Delphinium – poisonous
  • Red Hot Poker
  • Peonies
  • Cannas
  • Sedum
  • Echinacea
  • Coreopsis
  • Asclepias
  • Euphorbia
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Achillea – yarrow
  • Gaillardia
  • Penstemon
  • Salvia
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Yucca
  • Wisteria
  • Artemisia, Dusty Miller
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Buddleia

Lisa Ward-Smith

Lisa Ward-Smith has been in the Van Zandt area for 2 years. Prior to moving to East Texas, she was a dynamic member of the Nashville Gardening Community for many years. She was the Administrator for the Horticultural Society of Middle Tennessee, a member of Tyne Meade Garden Club, and a Master Gardener of Williamson County. Currently, Lisa is an active member of the Van Zandt Master Gardeners and a representative for Tower Gardens by Juice Plus.

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