What do Deer Eat?

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Q: I was wondering if deer eat tulips and daffodils. I want to plant them on the property but I am not sure if they eat them. I have had them eat one of my baby rhododendrons and only one of them. They also eat my sweet williams. I heard they will eat anything.

I have 2 1/2 acres of land and only have 3 types of bamboo and one california lilac and lilac trees. My fruit trees are still in pots as they attacked my plum and cherry tree that I planted last year. I’m hoping once they get tall enough I can plant them and at least the tops will be okay I hope.

How can you have a nice landscape if the deer keep eating everything. I love flowers however I am not rich and cannot keep feeding the deer. I wanted flowers that came back every year. I did not want to fence this large piece of land as that would be to costly. I have large rectangular planters that I made to keep my flowers in. I would like to transplant them to the property this fall. Any tips?

Based on reports I’ve received, deer do eat tulips but generally don’t eat daffodils. Nevertheless, they may chew on your daffodils and then spit them out. There are no guarantees with deer-resistant plantings, and the young deer like to sample virtually everything.

Take heart though – there are some safe bests when planting in deer country, which I’ve been doing now for a decade and a half. For plantings, I don’t think you can go wrong with these perennials: yarrow, agastache, artemesia, mint, heather, Geranium macrorrhizum, Shasta daisy, ornamental grasses, foxglove, columbine, lavender, sage, rue, catnip, rosemary and thyme. Generally, any plants with a pungent aroma or a fuzzy texture are distasteful to deer.

As for fruit trees, these are quite irresistible to deer, and you may want to consider encircling each tree with rebar posts and eight-foot wire fencing. I suggest planting a groundcover around each tree, or use mulch, as it would be inconvenient to mow where they are fenced. Leave some space between the tree and the fencing to allow for growth to discourage the deer from pulling up on the fencing to eat what they can. On our property, the deer actually learned to smash down the fencing with their hooves, snapping the tree trunks and then devouring all the leaves and fruit. That’s how we learned to reinforce the fencing with rebar posts!