Christmas is a time when children want to see deer, especially if they are pulling a sled full of toys.
However, for gardeners, seeing deer of any kind eating their vegetable garden or landscape does not put them in the Christmas spirit.
As the Dawson County population increases, natural areas are being replaced by homes. Homeowners soon realize nuisance deer are difficult to control in residential areas. Commercially available repellants and “home remedies” may give some control and fencing is not practical except around gardens.
So what is a long-term answer to deer eating ornamental plants? Plant ornamentals that deer do not like to eat. Remember though, very few plants are totally deer resistant.
When deer populations are high and food becomes scarce, deer are more likely to feed on almost any ornamental plant.
The following list may be helpful when selecting ornamental plants for your landscape.
Please note this is not a complete list of plants that may have a high degree of deer tolerance:
Trees: Bald Cypress, Crape Myrtle, Fir, Ginkgo, Gordonia, Leyland Cypress, most Hollies, Pines, Red Maple, River Birch, Southern Magnolia, Spruce and Sweetgum.
Shrubs: Anise, Barberry, Boxwood, Butterfly Bush, Forsythia, Gardenia, Holly, Juniper, Ornamental Grasses and Sweetshrub.
Herbaceous Perennials/Bulbs: Daffodils, Dahlia, Iris and Yarrow.
Annuals: Alyssum, Cornflower, Dusty Miller, Marigold, Parsley, Poppy, Snapdragon and Verbena.
Vines/Groundcovers: Carolina Jessamine, Cherokee Rose, Honeysuckle, Trumpetvine and Wisteria.
On a personal note, I truly pray you will take time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
May you have a wonderful Christmas and a better New Year.
Clark Beusse is the Dawson County Extension Agent.