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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - November 10, 2009

From: Hope, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Does deer repellant really work from Hope NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Does Deer Stopper by Messina Wildlife really work as an organic pest repellent?

ANSWER:

Sorry, we're not into product testing. There are no telling how many "tried and true" products for discouraging deer and other animals from foraging in your garden. In our Special Collections, we have a list of deer-resistant plant species. Quoting from that list:

"Few plants are completely deer resistant. Several factors influence deer browsing including the density of the deer population, environmental conditions such as drought, and plant palatability. Deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough leathery and/or hairy or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap."

Apparently the fact that deer tend to avoid aromatic plants has inspired many producers to make "sweet-smelling" (to you) sprays that will theoretically repel deer. Every one of those products, in very small print, will have a disclaimer saying that whether or not your plants will get eaten depends on the number of deer feeding in your area, the food supply, and the weather.  In other words, if they are hungry enough, they will eat just about anything, even if it stinks!

Deer are a very common problem here in the Austin area, too, including the grounds of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The severe drought we have had in the last two years has made the problem worse. Another problem is that some people think they're taking care of Bambi, and feed the deer. This just encourages the deer to hang around that area, accustoms them to being fed, and makes it possible for them to reproduce more prolifically. 

You'll have to trust us when we say that if we knew the perfect way to keep deer out of the garden, we would tell you, honest!

 

 

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