Looking for ways to grow a flower garden without deer eating your plants? If they are a problem in your beds, here are some effective deer repellents that will help protect your flower garden from damage.
For a gardener or gardening enthusiast, there is nothing worse than planting a beautiful garden filled with flowers only to find the next morning they’ve been eaten to a nub.
Has this happened to you too?
It is so frustrating when deer have your home and garden on their path, decimating flowers, and going on their merry way.
I’ve been battling them for over 25 years and have found that a number of techniques work to keep them at bay.
The most effective way to keep them out is to erect an eight-foot fence around your garden, but that isn’t always physically or financially feasible.
So what’s a gardener to do?
Deer-repellent sprays and granules are very effective when used properly. And I’ve found that it’s helpful to find the right one that works for you.
Today, I’m sharing my favorites that I use religiously all the time, plus a few others that I tried and found to be effective.
I’m sharing my thoughts and views on each product so you can make the best choice as to what will work best for you in your gardens.
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What You Need to Know About Deer
When it comes to understanding deer behavior and developing effective strategies to protect your garden, there are a few things to understand.
Here’s what you need to know.
They Lack Depth Perception
To really keep deer out of gardens, it’s best to use an eight-foot or higher fence. Because yes, they can actually jump over anything lower than that.
But did you also know that deer lack depth perception? They rely on their keen senses of hearing, smell, and motion detection to navigate their surroundings.
This characteristic can be used to your advantage when implementing deterrents because you can erect a double fence to keep them out.
In my former garden, we had a split rail fence that enclosed the backyard. Just inside that fence in the back corner where the shed was, we added a small fenced garden for growing vegetables.
Deer were very active in my backyard gardens but never jumped in that garden. And I attribute it to the double fencing. They didn’t think they could make it in and never tried.
Sensitivity to Odors
Deer have a strong sense of smell and are sensitive to certain odors. They are naturally repelled by strong scents like human urine, predator scents, or certain plant aromas.
Incorporating these odors into your garden can help deter them from approaching and damaging your plants.
This is why deer repellents work so well when used correctly.
Deer tend to follow established pathways, especially when foraging for food. They develop habitual routes that they use repeatedly.
By understanding their travel patterns, you can strategically use repellents and/or place deterrents or barriers along these paths to dissuade them from entering your garden.
You can also include plants they tend to leave alone. Believe it or not, there are lots of options out there that are beautiful, flower, and deer tend to avoid browsing.
And as they learn they don’t love what’s offered in your beds, they’ll choose a different path.
Training Them to Avoid Your Garden
Teaching deer to associate your garden with unpleasant experiences can be an effective long-term solution.
This can be achieved by using repellents, scare tactics, or motion-activated devices that startle them when they approach your garden. Because over time, they learn to avoid the area altogether.
Planting flowers and other things that they tend to avoid eating and using repellents also teaches them that an area is not to their liking so they’ll find another path.
Since deer are adaptive creatures, it may be necessary to employ multiple strategies and switch things up periodically to maintain their effectiveness.
There’s no method that’s 100% effective. But you can come pretty close if you are proactive with the measures you take.
And keep in mind, different strategies work in different gardens. Find the method that works best for you and keep up with it!
How to Use Deer Repellents Effectively
While you should always follow the label directions when using any sort of pesticide, where deer repellents are concerned, sometimes I recommend going a little off-script.
Because if you live in an area that is infested with a high deer population, you’ve got to be proactive with the repellents early on in the growing season often to protect your flowers.
Most repellents tell you to spray them about every 30-90 days depending on severity and weather. But if you get herds of deer on your property, you may need to apply it more often.
Especially when susceptible plants first emerge or at the time of planting.
So here’s what you need to do.
- When plants start emerging from the ground (as soon as you see green) start spraying susceptible plants with a repellent. Fully cover the plant with the repellent and allow it to dry.
- As plants grow, spray them again when they reach 1/3, 2/3, and full-grown height.
- If the plant flowers, like a tulip or hosta, you’ll want to spray them again when buds form.
- And then once again when they flower.
- After the initial growth, spray plants 1x per month. And close to 3 weeks if you got heavy rain.
- If you bring plants home and don’t plan on planting them right away, spray them if you intend to leave them outside. Deer will not care if they are in pots or not. Or keep them in your garage overnight until you are ready to plant.
- After planting, douse the foliage with repellent.
- Spray it all again one week later.
- And then spray it all again the week after that.
- From this point on, I’d do a follow-up spray at about 30 days. However, if you get lots of rain and see a lot of deer in the area, move that up to about 21 days.
The idea behind the intense spraying is to keep that smell pungent and strong so they learn they don’t want to eat it and choose another path.
Now this is not to say that deer won’t eat through repellent because they totally can. But they really will go find other things to eat than something that smells unpalatable to them.
For a list of plants rated by deer resistance, click here.
7 Best Deer Repellents for a Beautiful Flower Garden
One of the biggest challenges that every gardener faces is deer damage.
As graceful as these creatures may look from a distance when they invade your garden and nibble away at your precious plants, it can be incredibly frustrating.
If you want to grow plants and flowers that deer like to browse, you can still grow them successfully if you provide them with the right protection.
Since I’ve been gardening for over 25 years, I’ve tried numerous deer repellents, and today, I’m sharing the seven best ones that have worked for me.
And I’m highlighting the ones I regularly use in my gardens.
Here’s what you need to know!
Plantskydd is a highly effective spray repellent that offers long-lasting protection against deer because it is systemic instead of just being a topical application.
It contains natural ingredients like dried blood, which emits an odor that repels deer. I’ve found that this product works exceptionally well on plants that are highly susceptible to deer damage, such as roses, hydrangeas, hostas, and tulips.
Simply spray it on the foliage, and Plantskydd creates a barrier that helps keeps deer away.
The drawbacks of using it are that it will initially stain your plants. And it’s a little scary to see that staining too. Because it stains, I would avoid using it on flowers that are already blooming and instead, apply it while the plant grows.
In other words, don’t go using this on your gorgeous limelight hydrangea flowers. Go with a different repellent that won’t stain the blooms.
It smells pretty bad too but it helps protect against deer, rabbits, and other critters too. I use it to help keep both deer and rabbits away from plants they enjoy eating.
From experience, keep this product in a cool place. I had it in my garage during the heat of summer and the bottle exploded leaking the product. Needless to say, IT SMELLED REALLY BAD and was a chore to clean up.
But this stuff works. Really well.
So add it to your deer-proofing arsenault.
Deer Out is another reliable spray repellent that I frequently recommend to fellow gardeners as I have been using it for many many MANY years.
It has a minty scent that doesn’t smell terrible to humans but deer detest it. The unique blend of natural ingredients in Deer Out creates an effective barrier for susceptible plants.
This particular repellent is my go-to every. The bottle doesn’t clog, the spray doesn’t smell awful and it works very well.
I buy several bottles of it yearly and use it all season long.
When it comes to organic deer repellents, Deer Scram is a top contender. Made from natural ingredients like dried blood, garlic, and other plant extracts, it creates an unappetizing environment for deer and leads them to believe predators are nearby.
I’ve found this product to be especially useful for protecting larger areas, such as flower beds, vegetable gardens, and lawns.
It’s easy to apply and provides long-lasting protection. This product is granular, so you apply it around plants or whole gardens.
For me, I use it in conjunction with other repellents as I’ll apply it around a perimeter and then spray individual plants for additional protection.
I’ve used it in conjunction with Deer Out and found it to be an effective method at keeping deer away from my hydrangeas.
Liquid Fence is a versatile spray repellent that works well against deer and other unwanted garden visitors like rabbits and squirrels.
Its potent formula contains ingredients like putrescent egg solids and garlic, which deter deer effectively.
I’ve used Liquid Fence to protect my entire garden perimeter, and it has proven to be highly reliable.
It smells pretty bad, goes on thick, and is really easy to spray on garden plants. The bottle has clogged on me a few times before but overall is a great choice as a deer repellent.
Bobbex is a deer repellent that also combines natural ingredients like fish meal, putrescent eggs, and garlic with natural sticking agents.
This creates a strong, long-lasting formula that adheres well to plants and helps deter deer.
I used Bobbex way back when but found the nozzle clogged too often for me to keep using it. Since discovering other products, I haven’t used it since.
They may have improved their formula since then, but I haven’t looked back.
Repels All is a versatile repellent that works against a wide range of pests, including deer. Its formula contains natural ingredients like garlic, dried blood, and pepper, creating an unpleasant taste and scent for deer, groundhogs, rabbits, and other critters.
I’ve found this product to be particularly useful but it smells really bad. It applies with ease and works really well so if you want to mix things up, add this one to your deer-proofing repertoire.
As an aside, I have not found this repellent to be effective with groundhogs but if you have, I would love to hear about it in the comments.
I Must Garden Deer Repellent
I Must Garden Deer Repellent is a new product for me to use. This is a relatively new product for me. But I recently tried it and found, much like Deer Out, it has a somewhat minty odor.
It applies with ease and was easy to use. The bottle didn’t clog either. I used this on some panicle hydrangeas in the sideyard that I noticed were being nibbled on and haven’t seen damage since applying it.
I would use I Must Garden Deer Repellent again as part of my regimen against deer damage in my gardens.
Creating an Effective Deer Deterrent Strategy: Utilizing Different Repellents
As we’ve learned, deer can be persistent in their foraging habits, but by employing a diverse range of repellents, you can discourage them from entering your garden.
Depending how many you have and how severe the damage is, you may want to try different strategies to see what works best for you.
Here’s how to incorporate different repellents into a comprehensive strategy:
For the strongest strategy, I would use both the granular repellent, Deer Scram, together with spray repellents like Plantskydd, Deer Out, Bobbex, Liquid Fence, and/or I Must Garden Deer Repellent.
Their scents and tastes create an unappetizing environment for deer with subtle hints that predators may be nearby.
Some experts recommend switching repellents as an effective strategy. They believe that by alternating between these sprays, you prevent deer from getting used to a particular smell, keeping them on their toes.
- Apply one of the spray repellents according to the manufacturer’s instructions around the perimeter of your garden, focusing on areas with high deer activity.
- After a few weeks, switch to a different repellent. This rotation helps maintain the repellent’s effectiveness, ensuring deer do not become accustomed to any single scent.
More About Deer Repellents
Have you used any of these deer repellents before? What would you recommend? Do you have deer-proofing strategies you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.
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Garden Supplies I Use
I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.
- I like to use a good-quality garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use to get underneath roots, loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I like to use THIS ORGANIC FERTILIZER for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
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