Is there anything deer will not eat?

pender gardner

Cestrum, a tall summer blooming perennial, is one of several deer resistant plants that will be available at the Pender Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale, April 11, 12, and 13 in Burgaw.

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 01:53 PM.

High populations and disappearing woodland habitat are forcing deer to seek food in our backyards and gardens. One of the easiest ways to minimize deer damage in your yard is to landscape with plants deer prefer not to eat. While no plant is deer proof, there are many good landscape plants for this area that deer find less palatable — a solution that is both effective and relatively low-cost, once you know which plants to choose.

Deer-resistant trees and shrubs

Like goats, deer are browsers who feed on a variety of plants, including trees and shrubs. Large trees tend to be spared simply because they are too tall for deer to reach all but the lowest branches, leaving small trees and shrubs to bear the brunt of the damage, especially in winter. There are several trees and shrubs that have withstood the test of time and proven to be deer resistant. This does not mean deer will not eat them if it comes down to a choice between eating something they don’t like and starving to death. But most of the time these are varieties deer will pass over in favor of other plants.

Deer-resistant small and medium size trees include river birch, crape myrtle, Carolina cherrylaurel, and chaste tree (Vitex), all of which are tough, drought tolerant landscape plants. Evergreen shrubs for sun that deer prefer not to eat include pineapple guava, yaupon, Chinese juniper, wax myrtle, oleander, rosemary, gardenia, nandina, and Chinese holly, varieties of which include ‘Needlepoint’ and ‘Carissa’.

In shady sites try Japanese plum yew, available in both low growing and upright varieties, or dwarf palmetto or needle palm, both of which are hardy shrub forming palms. In fact, palms as a group are rarely damaged by deer. Other hardy palms for our area include the trunk forming Chinese windmill palm, which appreciates a little shade, and the stouter, more sun tolerant palmetto palm.

Unpalatable perennials and grasses

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