Deer Damage

Deer Damage to Trees and Landscape

One of the most frustrating things to deal with this time of year is having a deer snack on your beloved plants! Even if you are the type of person to tolerate deer damage because you love them, beware!  Deer are creatures of habit.  Once they feel safe and find a tasty snack, they will visit regularly.

An increase in deer populations and a decrease in their natural habitat have set up a situation in which your favorite landscapes become alternative food sources for deer.  As winter approaches and food sources become scarce, feeding on leaves, stems, and buds of plants becomes more apparent.  Male deer also cause damage by rubbing their antlers along the trunks of trees, stripping off the bark. Deer should be discouraged immediately.  Trees and shrubs can suffer permanent damage.  Deer damage is usually identified by the torn or jagged appearance of branches

deer damage to tree

There are four ways to discourage deer: Fencing, repellents, predators, and deer-resistant plants. 

Fencing requires you to enclose your entire yard with a fence at least six feet tall. This is not necessarily an aesthetically pleasing option and also not cost effective. In some cases, you can put barrier fencing around these individual plants. While it is still unsightly, protecting a tree while it is young is important. 

Homemade and commercial repellents are common control methods to discourage deer, but their effectiveness varies. Snow and rainfall wash them away, so frequent applications are needed. Also, if food sources are scarce, deer may simply ignore the repellents, despite the taste or odor.

As far as predators go, a  noisy dog is a good deer deterrent.  If you don’t have a dog, you can hang shiny tape from branches, or place inflated balls, and other moving objects in the yard to startle deer with sudden movement.  You’ll have to rotate these frequently, however, or deer will soon realize that they are not in danger from these objects.

 If they are hungry enough and food is scarce enough, deer will eat almost anything.  However, there are a number of plants that deer don’t find particularly palatable.  Using these plants in your landscape is often the most cost-effective, least time-consuming, and most aesthetically pleasing solution.

Below is a list of trees and shrubs not favored by deer.  However, the resistance of any plant species may change due to environmental factors.

Always check to make sure that the plant is not invasive before you plant it! 

TREES

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

American chestnut                                             Castanea dentata

Bald-cypress                                                     Taxodium distichum

Beech                                                                Fagus spp.

Birch                                                                  Betula spp.

Catalpa                                                              Catalpa spp.

Dawn redwood                                                  Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Giant arborvitae                                               Thuja plicata

Ginkgo                                                              Ginkgo biloba

Ironwood                                                           Ostrya virginiana

Japanese tree lilac                                            Syringa reticulata

Larch                                                                 Larix spp.

Honey-locust                                                    Gleditsia triacanthos

Redbud                                                             Cercis canadensis

Sassafras                                                          Sassafras albidum

Smoketree                                                         Cotinus spp.

Sourwood                                                          Oxydendrum arboreum

Sweetgum                                                         Liquidambar styraciflua

Spruce                                                              Picea spp.

Sycamore                                                         Platanus occidentalis

Tulip tree                                                          Liriodendron tulipifera

 

Shrubs

Common Name                                                       Scientific Name

Boxwood                                                              Buxus spp.

Leatherwood                                                       Dirca palustris

Coralberry/Snowberry                                         Symphoricarpos spp.

       * Poisonous, do not eat!

Forsythia                                                             Forsythia spp.

Japanese kerria                                                  Kerria japonica

Common lilac                                                     Syringa vulgaris

Oregon grape-holly                                            Mahonia aquifolium

Smokebush                                                       Cotinus spp

Spicebush                                                         Lindera benzoin                     

Spirea                                                               Spiraea spp.

Carolina allspice                                              Calycanthus floridus

Witch hazel                                                      Hamamelis spp.

 

Ground Covers

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Barren strawberry                                              Waldsteinia fragarioides

Bergenia                                                            Bergenia cordifolia

Bugleweed                                                         Ajuga reptans

Bunchberry                                                       Cornus canadensis

Catmint                                                              Nepeta x faassenii

Epimedium                                                        Epimedium spp.

Ferns                                                                 Numerous species

Hens and chicks                                               Sempervivum spp.

Juniper                                                               Juniperus spp.

Lady’s mantle                                                    Alchemilla mollis

Lamium                                                              Lamium spp.

Lily turf                                                              Liriope spicata

Lungwort                                                           Pulmonaria spp.

Mosses                                                              ————–

Pachysandra                                                      Pachysandra spp.

Potentilla                                                            Potentilla spp

Sedum                                                                Sedum spp.

Snow-in-summer                                                Cerastium tomentosum

Sweet woodruff                                                   Galium odoratum

Vinca                                                                   Vinca minor

Violet                                                                    Viola spp.

Wild ginger                                                           Asarum canadense

Wild strawberry                                                    Fragaria spp

 

Perennial Vines

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Akebia                                                                Akebia quinata

Bittersweet                                                         Celastrus scandens

Clematis                                                             Clematis spp.                          

Crimson glory vine                                              Vitis coignetiae

Silver lace vine                                                  Polygonum aubertii

Trumpet creeper                                               Campsis radicans

Virginia creeper                                                Parthenocissus quinquefolia

 

Hardy Bulbs

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Autumn crocus                                                  Colchicum autumnalis

Crown imperial                                                  Fritillaria imperialis

Daffodil                                                               Narcissus spp.

Grape hyacinth                                                  Muscari spp.

Glory-of-the-snow                                             Chionodoxa luciliae

Ornamental onion                                              Allium spp.

Siberian scilla                                                   Scilla sibirica

Snowdrops                                                       Galanthus nivalis

Winter aconite                                                  Eranthis hyemalis

 

Annuals and Biennials

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Ageratum                                                           Ageratum houstonianum

Alyssum                                                             Lobularia maritima

Candytuft                                                          Iberis sempervirens

Forget-me-not                                                   Myosotis spp.

Four o’clock                                                       Mirabilis jalapa

Foxglove                                                           Digitalis purpurea

Heliotrope                                                         Heliotropium arborescens

Larkspur                                                            Delphinium spp.

Lobelia                                                               Lobelia spp.

Marigold                                                            Tagetes spp.

Mexican sunflower                                          Tithonia rotundifolia

Mimulus                                                             Mimulus spp.

Nasturtium                                                        Tropaeolum majus

Petunia                                                              Petunia spp.

Poppy                                                                Papaver spp.

Salvia                                                                Salvia spp.

Snapdragon                                                      Antirrhinum majus

Stocks                                                               Matthiola spp.

Sunflower                                                         Helianthus annuus

Sweet William                                                  Dianthus spp.

 

Hardy Perennials

Common Name                                                    Scientific Name

Monkshood                                                       Aconitum spp.

Anemone                                                           Anemone spp.

Artemisia                                                           Artemisia spp.

Astilbe                                                                Astilbe spp.

Bee Balm                                                           Monarda spp.

Bergenia                                                             Bergenia cordifolia

Black-eyed Susan                                              Rudbeckia hirta

Butterfly weed                                                   Asclepias tuberosa

Columbine                                                         Aquilegia spp.

Coreopsis                                                          Coreopsis spp.

Cranesbill                                                          Geranium spp.

Fleabane daisy                                                  Erigeron x hybridus

Foam flower                                                      Tiarella cordifolia

Gentian                                                             Gentiana spp.

Geum                                                                Geum spp.

Goldenrod                                                         Solidago spp.

Hellebore                                                           Helleborus nigra

Hens & chicks                                                   Sempervivum spp.

Hibiscus                                                             Hibiscus spp.

Iris                                                                      Iris spp.

Jacob’s ladder                                                   Polemonium caeruleum

Rose campion                                                   Lychnis coronaria

Marsh marigold                                                Caltha palustris

Meadow rue                                                     Thalictrum spp.

Meadowsweet                                                  Filipendula spp.

Peony                                                                Paeonia spp.

Phlox                                                                 Phlox divaricata

Pinks                                                                 Dianthus spp.

Purple coneflower                                             Echinacea purpurea

Rockcress                                                         Arabis caucasica

Russian sage                                                   Perovskia atriplicifolia

Salvia                                                               Salvia spp.

Sedum                                                              Sedum spp.

Shasta daisy                                                     Chrysanthemum

Snakeroot                                                         Eupatorium rugosum

Sneezeweed                                                    Helenium autumnale

Snow-in-summer                                             Cerastium tomentosum

Speedwell                                                        Veronica spp.

Toadflax                                                            Linaria spp.

Valerian                                                            Valeriana officinalis

Violet                                                                 Viola spp.

Yarrow                                                               Achillea spp.

 

 

Herbs

Common Name                                                       Scientific Name

Angelica                                                             Angelica archangelica

Artemisia                                                           Artemisia vulargis

Basil                                                                   Ocimum basilicum

Borage                                                               Borago officinalis

Catmint                                                              Nepeta x faassenii

Chamomile                                                        Matricaria spp.

Chives                                                               Allium schoenoprasum

Comfrey                                                            Symphytum x rubrum

Dill                                                                      Anethum graveolens

Fennel                                                               Foeniculum vulgare

Feverfew                                                           Tanacetum parthenium

Germander                                                      Teucrium chamaedrys

Hyssop                                                              Hyssopus officinalis

Lamb’s ears                                                      Stachys byzantina

Lavender                                                          Lavandula angustifolia

Lemon balm                                                    Melissa officinalis

Mint                                                                  Mentha spp.                                       

Mullein                                                             Verbascum spp.

Oregano                                                           Origanum vulgare

Parsley                                                             Petroselinum spp.

Rosemary                                                        Rosmarinus officinalis

Rue                                                                   Ruta graveolens

Sage                                                                 Salvia officinalis

Savory                                                              Satureja montana

Tansy                                                                Tanacetum coccineum

Thyme                                                              Thymus spp.


Works Cited: 
Plants not favored by deer. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/plants-not-favored-deer.

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