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Spring Flowers -How To Keep The Deer Out

Updated on February 11, 2015

Tired of your hard work ending up in the food chain?

The excitement of spring!!

Every spring I spend countless hours cleaning out debris, re-tilling, mulching, replanting and more, in preparation for what I hope will be the makings of a beautiful bounty of spring and summer flowers. Every spring I watch in anticipation and with great excitement as the buds begin to blossom and the flowers begin to show their color in all their splendor. Likewise, the bees begin to show their beauty and make their presence known, buzzing from plant to plant pollinating and gathering nectar for their own summer bounty and the humming birds begin to stop by to refuel for their seemingly endless journey. Then it happens!!! In one single night, all of the hard work, all of the anticipation and excitement that had been building, comes crashing down. Crashing down in the form of hostas eaten to barely recognizable stumps, impatiens ripped from the ground as if they never existed and gladiolas left flowerless as lonely stalks shooting out of their once proud patch of earth. Oh the despair. Oh the disappointment. Oh the anger!!! What, you ask, could have caused this single night of dastardly devastation? What could, in a single night, turn our joy into such an opposite array of emotions? None other than one of natures most beautiful creatures. The white tail deer.

Where to go from here??

After years of trying the many different remedies on the market and in the various farming and gardening books and magazines, not to mention the ones passed down from generations gone by, I have come to a few conclusions. Short of taking care of the problem the old fashioned way like my grandpa used to do - lets just say he had plenty of venison in the freezer (this writer does not recommend this method without obtaining the proper permits) there is no one best way to deal with this problem. That is not to say that there are not some very good products out there that may work for some. You can find anything from man made chemical deer repellant, to all natural products such as bobcat and coyote urine, to fancy electrical gadgets like the yard sentinel, which sends out alarms, strobe lights and more. The net is full of a vast array of these products. If you are willing to fork out a few bucks to experiment then I wish you well. I have not had such luck. But having said that, deer and their tastes, fears, and mannerisms differ from region to region, state to state and in some cases neighborhood to neighborhood, so what works for some may not work for the deer you are dealing with and vice versa. Trial and error seems to be the only real way to find out. Is there a simpler way? What about a fence? Well, since deer can typically jump higher than a tall building and run faster than a speeding bullet, putting up a simple fence wont work and who wants to have an ugly six foot high fence hiding their flowers. That works fine for keeping deer out of gardens when accompanied with some electrical voltage, but you may as well just let the deer eat your flowers if that's your only remedy. What about stringing fishing line and stakes throughout your garden? Really? Sure that may work, but I am banking on the deer eventually winning that battle. So what is one to do to deal with this pesky, albeit beautiful, problem? How can you once and for all keep deer out of your yard and out of your flowers?

Even our cemetary is not safe.
Even our cemetary is not safe.

The moment of truth

The answer is simple. Here it is. The moment of truth. In can't. What? That's it? Let me explain. Since, as stated above, deer and their cravings, tastes, habits, fears and mannerisms differ from place to place, it is difficult to pinpoint one fail safe solution. I know. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You can try any of the above mentioned methods or one of the many products available on line and in your gardening centers and nurseries, and they may work very well for you. If on the other hand, like me, you have tried several of these methods and they have not worked out so well (although I have had some recent success in trying the use of old coffee grounds, the jury is still out) do not lose hope. There is one method that will work pretty much everywhere. Try filling your flower gardens with known deer repellent plants. I know, we all like what flowers we like and don't want to be dictated to what we can and can not plant by some four legged furry pest. That thinking, however, has caused many a gardener to become separated with their hard earned cash in replanting efforts and new remedy attempts, not to mention the years of hard work and frustrations brought on by their futile attempts to "outsmart" their nemesis. If you have reached the point to which you are tired of fighting this seemingly endless battle then below are a few planting suggestions that have been tried and tested by many and may just be the solution you need to keep deer out of your space.

Deer repellant plants.

That term in and of itself is a little deceiving because no plant is completely deer repellant. If deer get hungry enough and food is scarce they will eat almost anything. But....there are many plants out there that deer do not prefer and tend to not go near. Below is a partial, but by no means an all inclusive list of plants that seem to fit this criteria.

  1. Garlic
  2. Herbs -these make great additions to rock gardens and nothing is better in your recipes than fresh picked herbs
  3. Lady's mantle
  4. St. Johns wart
  5. Thorny bushes -such as barberries
  6. Red hibiscus
  7. Lavender- very adaptable to most climates
  8. Cat-mint - suttle purple flowers with a very pleasant aroma, but may call in all of the neighborhood cats :-)
  9. Astilbe - beautiful pink flowers
  10. Campanula (Bell-flower) - Vibrant purple flowers
  11. Coneflower - no longer just in red, but available in a multitude of colors

These are just a few. If you are interested in finding more information there are tons of websites out there to offer help and specifics for your particular situation and desires. One such site that I have found to be helpful, and that offers the ability for each user to fine tune their search by plant type (bushes, perennials, ground cover, annuals, trees, bulbs, etc) and also offers other fine tuning capabilities is the "Landscape plants rated by deer resistance" link that is listed below along with a couple of other links which you may find to be of some help. Good luck and feel free to share your own success stories and ideas. Happy gardening.

Coffee grounds update...summer 2013

I am happy to report that after two growing seasons of trying the coffee grounds method of repelling these beautiful but menacing four legged friends, I am having remarkable success. The one particular flower bed that I have been using the grounds on is thriving and the deer seem to be leaving it alone. In fact, I have looked out on more than one occasion in the wee hours of the morning, to find deer eating grass right by my front porch and next to my flower bed, but never stepping foot in the flower bed itself. So there you have it. Used coffee grounds. Give it a try, it can't hurt, and just may be the thing that the deer that you are dealing with find repulsive enough to stay away. Good luck.


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    • Howie Watts profile imageAUTHOR

      Howie Watts 

      4 years ago

      Thank you Carb. Isn't it frustrating to look out one day and have beautiful flowers and go out the next morning and have them eaten away. I have had pretty good success with the coffee ground trick. Let me know how it works for you :-)

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      4 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Howie - I live in deer country and am always looking for new ideas for survival. I had never heard of using coffee grounds. Will try that tomorrow morning. Thanks so much for an awesome hub.

    • snowdrops profile image


      6 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Great tips! I think im lucky that we have no deers here, only dogs and cats i think that always ruin our garden :)

    • Howie Watts profile imageAUTHOR

      Howie Watts 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment and the share girishpuri. I love to watch animals in the wild and deer in particular. There is not a day that goes by that I don't see lots of deer and rabbit and an occasional turkey wonder by.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      6 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      very good tips for safe gardening, in fact, i don't remember, the last deer i saw, in zoo only.

      10-15 yrs. back, we could find deer and other animals in plenty, but unfortunately, animals are getting disappeared and this is a real matter of great concern, awesome share, voted up

    • Howie Watts profile imageAUTHOR

      Howie Watts 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment LABrashear :-) I have tried the human hair experiment. Albeit with my sons hair ( I didn't just go in and shave his head unknowingly one night, I actually do his hair cuts lol). I may have to try the salon approach. Perhaps the multitude of other scents from different people may work. I imagine that after one good rain that the scent washes away anyway. With that said....I am seeing some success thus far with the coffee ground experiment. After having my gladiolas not show a flower for more than a day at a time before becoming part of bambis buffet, they have, since spreading used coffee grounds about, had beautiful flowers on them for more than a week now (that's not to say that I wont go out tomorrow and find them gone). Fingers crossed.

    • LABrashear profile image


      6 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Hi Howie-Although, we really haven't had much issue with deer (we had one befriend our pasture horses a few years back - another story for another time), we do have bunnies....EVERYWHERE! I had problems with them a few years back eating my garden, but cayenne pepper sprinkled around my plants deterred that. I have heard of an "organic" remedy that you may be interested in. Get hair clippings from a local salon and sprinkle it around your flower garden. It's organic and supposedly the deer are afraid of the human smell. Good luck!

    • Howie Watts profile imageAUTHOR

      Howie Watts 

      6 years ago

      Thank you Angela. I appreciate the help and the plug. I will be sharing your very well put together articles as well...although I am still building my following :-) Anyone reading this really needs to go check her hubs out.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      6 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      They love to eat my horse food and come in many when the snow covers the ground! I will share this article with my followers to introduce you! Have a great day!


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