No gardener wants to come outside to enjoy the beauty of all their hard work and find out that half of the flowers or foliage has been eaten during the night.
The best way to protect your plants is to first become familiar with the feeding habits of deer in your area. Deer will expand their foraging area when their preferred food becomes scarce. They may also develop a preferred taste for your ornamentals. This usually occurs in late winter and early spring, when snow cover reduces the availability of their natural foods and their fat reserves are depleted. Under these circumstances, deer will browse even the most resistant plants rather than starve. Since deer have small home ranges, they may become habituated and develop a preference for the fertilized gardens, flowers, shrubs, or trees on your property, rather than natural vegetation in the woods. Deer may also change their habits over time and may suddenly begin eating a plant that they avoided in the past.
There are many ways to help keep your garden free from deer. One of the most effective is to plant shrubs and perennials that deer have a natural aversion to. The other that we have found to be effective is to use a product like Liquid Fence. Spraying it on your garden every couple of weeks will help to keep the deer and rabbits out of your flower beds. The main active ingredient is "putrescent whole egg solids." Sounds like something us humans wouldn't like either, but the scent only lingers to our nose for a short time, so don't worry that you won't be out there enjoying your garden because of it. It is totally safe around your pets and children.
Although there is no such thing as a ‘deer proof’ plant, we have a large area set aside in the perennial area of the Susanville garden center just for this purpose. Our staff is knowledgeable also about trees and shrubs that seem to be a little more "deer" proof than others. Remember, if they are hungry, they will eat anything. It is best to protect young plants especially with some type of fencing or cover as they get established.