By Kathy Esfahani
Observing nature in action is part of the wonder of gardening! Although deer can be as beautiful as butterflies, hummingbirds and other visitors, they can also cause significant damage to the plants in a landscape. Leaves and stems with jagged edges are a sign that a deer has been feasting on your plants, particularly if the damage is high off the ground.
So, how can you protect your landscape?
The most effective strategy is a combination of multiple methods. Physical barriers — such as fences and motion-activated lights — can be a good starting point. Also, chemical repellents can be found in lawn and garden stores.
While many of these commercial formulas may be effective, the cost of repellents can become significant. Homemade deer repellents range from sprays made of 1 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap and 4 cups water in a 1 gallon jug (allow to ferment in the sun before spraying) to others using 1 gallon water, 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons liquid Castile soap. (Boil the water and red pepper flakes before adding soap; allow solution to sit for 24 hours before straining into a spray bottle).
You can also try sprinkling flakes of Irish Spring soap or handfuls of human hair around your yard. The key for any deterrent is to mask the smell of the plants that the deer want. They will avoid areas that smell like humans or less desirable scents (in their opinion!). Try to be patient as you experiment with various deterrents to determine an effective strategy for your deer.
Ultimately, it is most helpful to fill your landscape with plants and flowers that deer do not enjoy. Consider planting spiny or smelly shrubs and ornamental grasses around the perimeter of your yard. When planning your landscape, look for deer-resistant trees, shrubs and flowers.
Tree options include bottlebrush, crepe myrtle, live oak, magnolia, queen palm and royal palm. Select deer-resistant shrubs such as bird of paradise, camellia, carissa, Chinese holly, croton, gardenia, juniper, lantana, plumbago and viburnum. Finally, there are annuals and perennials that deer will avoid.
Deer do not enjoy the flowers of African iris, black-eyed susan, blue daze, canna lily, coneflower, gaura, marigolds, mona lavender, penta, snap dragons and verbena.
Flower of the Week: Mona Lavender
Please email Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information & ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.