quietly toward the edge of our yard, the mother and baby
were cute — until they started chomping away on our
hardy hibiscus shrubs that were so healthy and lush.
that’s how we were introduced to deer at our new yard.
decades, I gardened without the threat of hungry deer
decimating anything and everything. Now, I had to turn
to the experts for advice on how to avoid the damage. A
friend recommended I use Bobbex, a spray-on product that
repels deer with a stinky odor that quickly offended my
nose. In fact, the odor is so pungent I could not leave
the container in the garage. After thoroughly spraying
the two hibiscus bushes, I tucked the bottle under the
grill cover. Liquid Fence and Deer Off are also
deer-deterring products sold at garden centers and
online, including Amazon.com.
smells terrible, and dissipates in 24 hours to humans,
according to Greg Ecsedy, president of Bobbex. Animals,
however, can still smell — and taste — the stuff.
The product, which includes a special formula for roses,
combines six scents, including rotten eggs, garlic,
fish, clove oil and vinegar. It comes in ready-use and
of all, Bobbex does not wash off in the rain, thanks to
multiple sticking agents, so its impact lasts for 30
days, which I can attest to. For days, Ken and I sat at
the windows, wondering happily why the deer did not
return — although my four-year-old granddaughter,
Mattie, was sad that they left. Soon, the hibiscus was
lush and full again, and no sign of deer even 60 days
later — after only one application of Bobbex.
Fletcher, horticulture curator at the Virginia Living
Museum in Newport News, Va., offers these tips for
dealing with deer:
Sprinkle human hair around plants.
Hang soap (preferably strong scented deodorant soap)
Sprinkle ground hot pepper on and around the plants
(reapply after rain).
Spray fox or coyote urine (available from sporting
goods/hunting departments) around plants.
Spray deer repellant (can purchase from home stores or
made at home) on and around plants.
Hang reflective items — such as old cds/dvds — near
Install motion sensor lights near flower beds.
Install fences around yard or garden.
but most importantly, Fletcher suggests you plant
deer-resistant plants, and here are five native species
columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. Blooms April-June with
profuse red-and-yellow dangling flowers. Grows one to
three feet tall, likes sun-shade and average,
well-drained soil that’s dry to medium-dry.
Short-lived but self-seeds; tolerates drought, deadhead
for second bloom. Benefits hummingbirds. Cold hardy
aster, Boltonia asteroids. Blooms July-September with
white daisy-like flower with a yellow center. Grows five
to six feet tall, likes sun to part shade and average,
well-drained soil that’s dry to wet. Profuse blooms
nearly cover the plant in late summer and early fall.
Benefits butterflies. Cold hardy zones 4-9.
coreopsis, Coreopsis verticillata Moonbeam. Blooms
June-October with one-inch sulphur yellow daisies. Grows
to two feet tall, likes sun and average-poor,
well-drained, dry to medium soil. Keeps flowering until
first frost in early to mid-November, makes excellent
cut flowers. Benefits butterflies. Cold hardy zones 4-9.
mountain mint, Pycnanthemum muticum. Blooms
June-September with clusters of small white, feathery
flowers that are not as showy as the surrounding silver,
blue, grey bracts. Grows two to three feet tall, likes
sun and average, well-drained, medium-wet soil. Fragrant
foliage. Benefits butterflies. Cold hardy zones 4-9.
milkweed, Asclepias purpurascens. Blooms May-June with
large round clusters of light to deep purple flowers.
Grows two to three feet tall, likes sun and average to
poor and well-drained dry soil. Showy flowers; orange
aphids are common pests that can be dislodged with water
sprays. Spreads with runners. Benefits butterflies,
hosts monarchs. Cold hardy zones 3-9.