Those damn deer are being at it again!
It feeds on the leaves of evergreen shrubs, plucks the tips and buds of trees, scrapes the bark of small trees with its antlers, and spreads it in gardens.
I remember when deer were a big deal because they weren’t everywhere. They are very adaptable and have moved to suburbs and smaller cities like Batavia.
The wide variety of foods they can eat and digest is one of the reasons they are so successful.
During the winter much of the food they eat is covered with snow. They then tend to browse buds, twigs, and leaves up to 5 or 6 feet from trees and shrubs.
Deer look for fruit still hanging on trees. They visit cornfields and examine cover crops.
Deer have favorite foods and other plants that they eat only when they are hungry. You can use it to your advantage when choosing trees and shrubs for your landscape.
A common feature of plants that deer find less palatable is fuzzy, fragrant, tough, leathery, or fibrous leaves. It also includes plants with thorns and bristles (although they don’t seem to care about eating roses) and plants that try to poison themselves with toxic compounds in their leaves and twigs.
Still, there’s no guarantee they’ll never touch those plants.
The number of deer in your area is also a factor. The more deer there are in an area, the less palatable food they have and the more likely they are to eat plants they don’t like.
Anyway, especially if they are small, they should be protected by a fence for the first few years.
Besides the taste of deer, there are other factors to consider when choosing trees and shrubs for your garden. Native trees and shrubs can offer the advantage of providing food and shelter to native insects and birds.
What you plant in your garden matters. Native plants are the foundation of local ecosystems.
Although no plants are deer-tolerant, the following native plants are considered deer-resistant and less likely to be viewed:
n Northern spice bush (Lindera benzoin) or wild allspice gets its name from the spicy aroma when the bark is scratched.
The leaves are also fragrant when crushed or chewed.
Another advantage of growing this vase-shaped shrub is that it is a host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly.While butterflies are beautiful, the larvae look like bird droppings. As the caterpillar ages, it becomes green with ferocious eyes to keep it from being eaten by hungry birds.
There are male and female plants, both of which produce yellow flowers in early spring. It is one of the first blooming shrubs.
The fruits ripen bright red in autumn and are a favorite food of thrushes, catbirds, robins and whitethroat warblers. Berries are rich in lipids required by migratory birds.
Since this is a wild underbrush, it needs shady conditions. It prefers moist, acidic soil, so mulch it with fallen leaves.
It is also tolerant of growing near black walnuts.
n If you have moist, acidic soil, try growing winterberries (Ilex verticilate).
A deciduous tree in the holly family known for its 1/4-inch bright red berries that hang down the branches in winter.
Dense bushes of winterberries provide nesting grounds for birds, returning for those berries after they have softened a bit in the winter. There is a nature.
Winterberry is dioecious, with separate male and female plants, so at least one male plant must pollinate 6 to 10 female plants to produce flowers and fruit. It is the host plant for butterfly and moth caterpillars, and the small greenish-white flowers are a nectar source for bees and butterflies.
It grows naturally in damp areas and is suitable for rain gardens, damp areas, or streams and ponds.
n If you need a smaller tree, American hornbeam or musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) grows to about 40 feet tall.
As the tree matures, the trunk and large limbs develop long, sinuous grooves that look like muscles.
Deer will occasionally eat twigs and leaves, but they are not a favorite food. It is the larval host of several butterflies, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Striped Hairstreak, and Red Mottled Purple.
It grows in medium to moderately moist soil, in partial full shade.
Belonging to the Fagaceae family, it produces small nuts that are enjoyed by songbirds, turkeys and other animals. The downside is that it hates transplanting, so I transplant it in the spring.
It is also not drought tolerant.
n Tolerant of extreme heat, drought and cold, Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) grows up to 65 feet tall.
A dense columnar evergreen conifer that provides winter shelter for songbirds. It likes to grow in sunny, well-drained soil.
Suitable for a wide range of environments from dry to wet. It is an alternate host for cedar apple rust, so it should not be planted near apple trees.
Twigs and leaves may be viewed. It protects until it is big enough to withstand some damage.
At least 40 species of butterflies and moths use Eastern Red Cedar as a host plant for caterpillars. The small blue berries are eaten by a variety of songbirds and small mammals.
Other shrubs described as deer resistant include Magnolia Virginia, Mountain Laurel, American Beautyberry, Red Chokeberry, Carolina Sweetshrub, New Jersey Tea, Shrub St. John’s Wort, Fragrant Sumac, Summersweet, Northern Bayberry, Bottle Blush Buckeye, and more.
Trees to try include black gum, hackberry, red buckeye, river birch, American yellowwood, sweet gum, American hop hornbeam, paw paw, sassafras, tulip tree, and sycamore.
Bees, butterflies and birds thank you for adding native trees and shrubs to your landscape.
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