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Mr. Smarty Plants - Holly attacked by deer in Connecticut

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Wednesday - March 18, 2009

From: Trumbull, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Holly attacked by deer in Connecticut
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My holly bush was eaten by deer. Will the leaves come back or is it done?

ANSWER:

We're going to guess you have Ilex opaca (American holly) since it is native to Connecticut, but it will work as an example of the Ilex or holly genus. The deer in your area must be really hungry, because they will ordinarily avoid spiny leaves like the holly has. However, it is a well-known fact that if natural forage is sparse, deer will just about eat anything. As to whether or not your plant will come back, it probably will. When you say your bush was eaten by deer, were even the stems destroyed? If only the leaves were eaten, and it happened in the winter when the plant is semi-dormant anyway, we would bet that the holly's need to survive and reproduce will cause it to draw energy from the roots and releaf. If this problem recurs year after year, however, the plant's resources will dwindle away and it will finally succumb to being a deer's dinner.  This Colorado State University Extension website Preventing Deer Damage has some recommendations that might help you prevent further damage. 


Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca

 

 

 

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