Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Deer Resistant Native Plants

Deer in front  yard
Paula and Ken Korber's Front Yard - Suburb of Cleveland, OH

"Oh no they will eat this... and this.. and this"


Originally, I was concentrating on raising native plants that attracted native bees and pollinators, along with milkweeds which serve as host plants for Monarch Butterflies. Like everything in life it is important to be flexible and adaptable. I learned this lesson at my first 2010 market. “What plants won’t the deer eat?”, “Do deer like this plant?”, “ Oh no… you are wrong… they love this one and this one and if they are hungry enough this one too!”

I had some research to do. I should have been more in step with the needs of customers living near the Cleveland Metro Parks, but I wasn’t. I attend the Frostville Farmer's Market in North Olmsted, Ohio. It is located on the site of Olmsted Falls Historical Society, right in the heart of the Cleveland Metro Parks. Needless to say the majority of our customers live in either: North Olmsted, Fairview Park, Westlake, Rocky River, Olmsted Falls or other communities that boarder the north-west side of the park. As you can imagine people are always looking for interesting native plants that deer don't enjoy.

Three years later and much wiser, I now have laminated cards for each plant that describe cultivation needs and wildlife significance; a smaller version of my web pages. Those plants that are deer resistant are noted as such. Deer Don’t Like this Plant!

Garden Web has an extensive list of plants deer don't like. I think you will find it most useful.

Over the course of the market season many people offered their "solutions" to keeping deer at bay. Here they are.

1. Collect animal hair or human and sprinkle it around your plants. You can't use this trick forever as after a while the deer catch on.

2. One couple swore this worked - Hanging soap on strings around the perimeter of their yard. I think they used dial, but I am not certain on that.

3. Planting milkweed plants on the edge of your garden also seemed to help. On one of our bike trips to Mansfield, Ohio we noticed milkweed plants growing on the edge of corn fields. I am not sure if that was accidental or intentional.

4. Rotten eggs? ? This is what I was told.

5.  Before my friend Dave Davorak retired from the Cleveland Metro Parks, he used a commercial product that did not smell  "might fine". It needed to be reapplied after it rains.

If I missed your remedies and suggestion let me know and I will add them to the list.

*I am in the process of building a page on my site that lists what plant I grow that are less likely to be consumed by deer.


  1. I have a huge suburban deer problem and have tried everything, the only reliable solution I've found (other than a really tall fence) is a spray called Deer Out. It's mint based, all natural, even safe on edibles, I order direct on their website. It's awesome! Btw, I'm not sponsored by them, I just love their product. I also use their Rabbit Out spray.

  2. Thank you for your suggestions Julie. I can't count the number of conversations that we have had on this topic.