Sunday, November 16, 2003
By Lynn Rawe
Imagine this! You spend hundreds of dollars on landscape. You have spent months installing trees and flowers just like you want it to look. Then, maybe even without warning, its gone. Oh deer, oh deer.
This is the time of year that deer are on the move. Homeowners are seeing deer in their neighborhoods that have never seen them before. Bambi is cute, but very destructive.
Deer not only eat or browse your plants, but stomp them to death. Bucks also can rub the velvet from their antlers on trees, removing the bark and possibly causing death to the tree by girdling.
Trees can be protected by placing a cage around the trunks. Mesh cages made of chicken wire are inexpensive and provide effective protection against the rubbing. Although cages may be unsightly for a period of time, it will save your plants.
Some people try fencing their property. This barrier is very expensive and must be very high to be effective.
Choosing the proper plant material is one way to help preserve your landscape. Plants can be expensive, so selecting deer resistant plants will increase your odds of keeping your landscape beautiful. Deer resistant plants mean the plants are less likely to be eaten by deer. This does not mean if deer are very hungry, they won’t eat “deer resistant plants.” If deer are desperate for food, due to drought, they will munch on plants they normally would not.
Deer generally will not eat plants that are “poisonous” or have a strong smell. There are five “poisonous” plants that come to mind that are deer-resistant.
Angel Trumpet — Don’t let this plant’s name fool you . It has a poisonous defense system that protects itself from damage. The Angel Trumpet has the shape of a trumpet. Brugmansia is the genus of this Datura-type plant. This beautiful plant will be root- hardy in San Antonio.
Datura — Datura is a similar plant to the Angel Trumpet. Datura is sometimes called Jimson Weed or Moon Flower. The flowers do not hang downward as those of the Brugmansia. Datura is a short-lived, herbaceous perennial. Daturas bloom in the evening and produce large, usually white, flowers.
Oleander — Oleanders are drought tolerant and come in many colors. Oleander plants are often used to produce a hedge. Cold temperatures of 25 Degrees F. or less can damage this plant, but will not kill them.
Lantana — Lantana is a wonderful flowering plant that comes in many colors. There are several native lantanas in Texas. These are drought tolerant also. The black seeds of Lantana are the poisonous part of this plant.
Texas Mountain Laurel — This is a great native plant. This plant can be used as a large shrub or a small tree. The red seeds of this drought-tolerant plant are poisonous.
There are many more deer-resistant plants that grow extremely well in San Antonio. Not all deer-resistant plants have a “poisonous” protection. Many have an odor that protects them. Try incorporating rosemary, Mexican oregano, salvias, Myrtle Mints, Santolina or Copper Canyon Daisy into your landscape. All of these plants have an odor that helps protect them from not only deer but also rabbits. For a complete list of deer resistant plants, visit the Bexar County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu. Keep in mind that if deer are hungry and there is not a lot of forage for them to eat, THEY WILL EAT YOUR LANDSCAPE-even the nasty-tasting plants! Drought is not the only factor that determines how much landscape will be eaten. Heavy populations of deer or rabbits will influence browsing. The more critters there are, the more food they need to eat!
This article was written by Lynn Rawe, County Extension Agent-Horticulture – Texas Cooperative Extension, Bexar County. For more information, please call (210) 467-6575.