Roses vs. Deer

theloud(7b)January 28, 2011

Deer rule my neighborhood, and eat practically everything, even things they're not "supposed" to eat according to many references. Despite this, two of my neighbors have little single-flowered landscape roses of some kind, and the deer seem to leave them alone (or at least haven't eaten them to the ground, which is the best that can be expected.)

Should I be cheered by this, assume that deer will similarly ignore other roses, and try some of the larger and more impressive roses (I'm considering an Ebb Tide floribunda or possibly a Brownell Sub-Zero hybrid tea here in zone 5a.) Or do deer consider these fancier rose varieties tastier than the little landscape roses, in which case I shouldn't bother?

I know some gardeners fight deer with sprays and fencing, but I'd rather not take on any more work than necessary. We already have a big fenced area, but I'm looking for things to plant outside it.

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No deer fence, no repellent sprays = no roses. Period. All the mythology that deer won't eat certain roses is just that: mythology.

In my area, the only defense is DA FENCE!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 12:46PM
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I plant a lot of climbing roses because of the deer. I put cages around them when they are small. Once they get above deer head height (our local mule deer are short) they are OK, but then our deer are lazy in our benign climate - they rarely eat anything that they would have to bend down or stretch up to - almost all of their grazing is right at head height.

Anyway, our large climbing roses all have naked bottoms, but I think they would anyway. I do have a few smaller bush roses that I put "Deer Away" or some similar thing on in the Spring - that works OK, but you have to keep re-applying it to new growth.

I plant daffodils everywhere - the deer (and squirrels and other munching types) won't touch them.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 2:35PM
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On my side of the pond, deer eat the moderns first, HT's and floribundas, and depending on how hungry they are go on to all other roses but eat rugosas last. In the rose season they will eat buds and flowers first and not so much leaves and stems. In winter they will eat everything.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 5:20PM
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Thanks folks. I guess anything fancier than my neighbors' little landscape roses (which don't look like pure rugosas, but might be related to them) will just be so much deer candy. Sigh.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 5:39PM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

Like Trospero, the 8' deer fence is one of the few things that work for us. In the summer we take down all but the back fence (it's strong netting that we attach to high stakes) and use motion-detector sprayers called Scarecrows. They work really well for us, but only during the growing season when the hoses won't freeze. Once it goes down to freezing at night we have to put them away and put up the fence again. The good news is that the deer fence netting isn't very visible.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 8:25PM
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Well, once you have enough of the neighbors shooting at them, they tend to stay away -

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 8:21PM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

A dog really helps too.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 10:40AM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Like mariannese, my deer eat the HTs first and rugosas last. Thus, I plant HTs off the deer tracks, behind deer unfriendly shrubs, etc. Thus the method to the madness in my garden. Also, having lots and lots of roses help. They nibble as they wander, so the damage is shared among many, giving all a chance.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 10:45AM
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The deer in my yard love roses! They definitely prefer the red ones, I have a red explorer rose that took me 3 yrs to see an actual flower. Lots of buds, but they never got a chance to open, the deer loved them so much. Finally, I gave up and starting spraying with Liquid Fence. They never eat my rugosas, though, too thorny is my guess. They usually don't eat my fairy roses either, but on occasion they will.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 6:02PM
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I have noticed, also, that the deer don't bother the thornier roses much. Not when there are nice succulent hybrid teas and David Austen roses with their larger but fewer and more spaced out thorns near bye.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 6:49PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

So far, so good. My wood guy, who does a LOT of gardening work in my area gave me a couple of what I call "disks" and they call "units or stations" of Sweeney's Deer Repellent for the roses which the previous owner of my home planted in front of the house. He reported 100% success with this product in all of his client's gardens, many of which include roses. He's not the kind of guy that generally recommends products, so that alone got my attention.

Last year, I gave in and caged my roses, except for one which I have had high hopes they would kill. I put the disks out next to my two least favorite roses and left the others caged.

Until I put the disks out, the deer have blatantly climbed the stairs up to the garden to eat the uncaged rose and other plants that deer are not supposed to like. The hated rose now has blooms and the other plants are coming back.

Since deer do not read, I cannot guarantee the product, but so far, so good.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sweeney's Deer Repellent

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 1:48AM
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jim_w_ny(Zone 5a)

Googling deer repellants there are a number of other products that might also work. One that sounded interesting is a Bell & Howell solar powered ultrasonic motion detector. Some others as well. Time to get off such things I've tried before like different kinds of fences

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 6:40AM
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jim_w_ny(Zone 5a)

On reading further it seems these ultrasound things don't work. The only cure which has the endorsement of some is a Swedish product you spray. It is used to protect trees in their forests. I forget what is is called but easy to find on Google.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 7:42AM
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