Consumer Qs

What are some deer-resistant plants?

by Special Reports

Consumer Q’s is prepared by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, Commissioner.

Question: Deer are ravaging my garden. I can’t fence in my whole property. Are there any plants deer won’t eat? Almost all my hostas have been eaten.

Answer: We don’t know of any plant that is totally deer resistant. If they are hungry enough, deer will eat almost anything. It makes gardeners wonder if deer herds have hidden woodland pharmacies full of antacids and antidotes enabling them to eat whatever they want.

In the language of the whitetail deer, the word “hosta” means “salad.” We suggest spraying your favorite specimens with deer-repellent or replacing them with shade-loving plants that are less tasty to deer such as hellebores, mayapples, jack-in-the-pulpit, pulmonaria, wild ginger/little pigs (Asarum) and certain ferns.

Here are a few plants for Georgia gardens generally considered to be deer resistant or deer tolerant since deer prefer not to browse on them.

TREES AND SHRUBS: barberry, bottlebrush buckeye, butterfly bush, boxwood, fig, anise shrub, nandina, banana shrub, Scotch broom, kerria, oleander, pittosporum, Eastern red cedar, pomegranate, gardenia, glossy abelia, viburnum, rosemary, crepe myrtle, witch-hazel, Carolina silverbell, gordonia, wax myrtle, American holly, feijoa, winter daphne, persimmon, pawpaw, most pines, Carolina cherrylaurel, tuliptree/tulip poplar, Southern magnolia, bald cypress, dawn redwood, cryptomeria, sweetgum, river birch and palms.

PERENNIALS, SUB-SHRUBS AND ANNUALS: caryopteris, ajuga, aspidistra, holly fern, royal fern, Christmas fern, cinnamon fern, hay-scented fern, ebony spleenwort, yucca, agave, columbine, larkspur, foxglove, Lenten rose and other hellebores, lavender, daffodils and jonquils, prickly pear, meadow rue, purple coneflower, cardinal flower, perovskia, santolina, iris, dianthus, society garlic, mayapple, baptisia, ageratum, angel’s trumpet, epimedium, snowdrops (Galanthus), wild ginger/little pigs (Asarum), colchicum, allium, monarda, native asters, boltonia, butterflyweed, crinum, toad lily, liatris, lunaria, agastache, artemesia, dusty miller, rose campion, nicotiana, pulmonaria, Jerusalem sage, lantana, basil, salvia, cleome, Madagascar periwinkle/annual periwinkle, California poppy and peony.

Here is a recipe for deer repellent that will help in your vegetable garden and to keep them away from some of your most valuable or vulnerable landscape plants: Beat two raw eggs in a bucket. Add one gallon of water and place one cake of very fragrant soap such as Irish Spring in the mixture. Leave the soap whole. Set the bucket aside for several days. Stir the mixture and strain it into a spray canister. Spray the mixture on the foliage of the plants the deer are eating. Re-apply after rains. After a time, you may only need to spray the plants at the perimeter of the area. (When the deer encounter it, they may back away and go elsewhere to feed.) If you need more than one gallon, add two extra eggs but no more soap. The same bar of soap can be used to make subsequent batches until it dissolves.

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Question: Will there be any Georgia Grown Farmers Showcase events this year?

Answer: Yes. There is one coming up on Saturday, May 18, at the Macon State Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the first such event for the Macon Market. There will be farmers and vendors selling honey, produce, jelly, soaps, meats and other Georgia products. There will also be an “Ask a Master Gardener” booth, different chicken breeds on display and more. For questions, please call Happy Wyatt, Macon State Farmers Market Manager, at 478-752-1097.

Check the Department of Agriculture website and the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin for announcements about other upcoming Georgia Grown Farmers Showcase events.

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Question: Is there a special type of purslane grown as a vegetable? I saw it listed in a salad recipe. The only purslane I know grows wild and is a weed.

Answer: Just as there are cultivated forms of dandelion greens with larger leaves than their weedy relations, there are also forms of purslane that are larger and more succulent than the purslane you know as a garden weed. However, you can eat the ones that pop up as weeds, too.

Purslane is eaten primarily in salads. We found some delicious recipes using it with tomatoes, cucumbers and avocadoes. It is also used on sandwiches and with boiled eggs and deviled eggs. It can be sautéed, boiled or even fried. Because it can become mucilaginous when boiled too long, it can be used as a thickener like okra in soups.

Lest you think eating purslane is a new trend, consider this observation from Henry David Thoreau in Walden published in 1854: “I have made a satisfactory dinner, satisfactory on several accounts, simply off a dish of purslane (Portulaca oleracea) which I gathered in my cornfield, boiled and salted.”



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