Here’s what we know about deer dining habits:
- As much as 90% of their water requirements are met by munching on lush greens and tender young, plant growth.
- Deer prefer high protein crops such as peas, soybeans, turnips, alfalfa and corn.
- They like trail mix. Fruit, nuts and seeds are especially important when the green vegetation starts to dwindle. Corn that you may put out for birds attract deer too.
- There are very few animals that can resist the sweet smell of apples. Deer are one of them.
- They will happily rip off the bark of maples, aspens and dogwoods. They get water from their bark and it sits heavily in their four-chambered stomachs, keeping them full longer.
- Now what do they avoid?
- Deer are sensitive to smells and most strong scents can drive them away (unless that smell is apples!)
- Like small children, deer don’t like strange textures in their food. They prefer not to eat things that are fuzzy, prickly or thorny. (They do like roses though. I guess in their case, the thorns are worth the taste of the delicious flower.)
- Deer avoid plants with milky sap and other plants that will upset their stomachs or give them heartburn.
- Deer prefer not to walk through sharp ornamental grasses or thorny brush to get to food.
- Deer avoid the prickly center of zinnia flowers
Okay, now what do they NOT like to eat.
There are a variety of beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees that we can plant in our yard that deer are unlikely to do much damage to. This list is based on information collected from searching educational web sites, retail and wholesale suppliers’ recommendations, public forums and personal experience.
These are divided into two categories: one: plants that deer generally dislike eating and two: plants that deer really dislike eating
Generally Dislike Eating
Coral Bells (Heuchera)
Rose of Sharon
Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
Really Dislike Eating
Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Japanese Blood Grass
Lily of the Valley
Poppy (note: Oriental Poppy fit in category one)
Purple Moor Grass
Red Hot Poker