Deer-Resistant Roses

Credit: Barbra Fairclough

Apart from their flowers, fragrance and dependability, moss roses have another characteristic that should endear them to gardeners in deer country. The moss that makes them so attractive to us contains aromatic oils that deer don’t like. If you rub a bud between your fingertips, you will find it has a pungent but not unpleasant aroma, rather like cough candy or chest rub. An exception is ‘Chapeau de Napoléon’ whose buds are unscented.

There are no guarantees when it comes to deer, but a number of gardeners I’ve spoken to report seeing deer give their moss roses a miss. Even if they do sample a leaf or bud, chances are they’ll find it unpalatable. For extra insurance, choose a vigorous variety such as ‘William Lobb,’ which is well endowed with prickles, as well as moss, and will rapidly grow beyond reach of potential diners.