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Hostas are a tremendous and complementing addition with their mild fragrance and bright blooms to your flower bed or garden. Thanks to this charm and indelible appeal, they’re a beloved deer lunch despite winning gardener acclaim all over. But do deer eat hostas, and how can you definitively keep them away from helping themselves to what they see as a buffet salad?
It’s unfortunate, but the answer is yes, deer do indeed eat hostas. They’ll pull out the plant’s stem or munch on the flowers, twigs, and leaves in many instances. As such, it’s essential that if you live in deer country, you employ tactics and techniques to protect your garden.
If you want to keep deer from imbibing on your succulent hostas leaves, read on as I explore reliable thwarting techniques. But first, you have to ascertain what’s eating your hostas is deer or something else to arrive at a viable solution.
Is It Deer That’s Eating Your Hostas?
Yes, your Hostas are most likely to attract deer diners that consider the large-leafed plant as sweet as candy. While there are supposedly deer resistance types of this garden flower, deer can be voracious when they are hungry, so that’s unreliable.
That said, there are species of hostas that rate higher on deer’s culinary ladders than others, but if this animal is starving, this won’t matter much. Several telltale signs will notify you of the presence of deer in your garden if you haven’t seen them eating your Hostas.
Rugged Plant Stalks
Rugged stalks on your destroyed hostas mean that deer are to blame. These critters tend to be overly destructive with the flowering shrub, turning them into apocalyptic-looking shadows of their former glory.
Bite marks appear on stalks, beneath the ends where leaves have been eaten down to. If your hostas were flowering, there would be no evidence of remaining blooms.
Plant Damage that’s High Up
Seeing as deer are relatively tall than other enemies of Hostas, rabbits, plant damage that’s as high as five or six feet is indicative of their menace. If you’ve planted giant Hostas in the hope of salvation from shorter varmint, these animals will rear on their hind legs to get at the succulent leaves or flowers.
If it’s the top of your Hostas that disappear instead of the leaves or stalks lower on the ground, it’s deer that have been at work.
Hoof Prints and Droppings in Garden Soil
Hostas like a lot of water, and the ground around them is often soft. If deer have been visiting, you’ll notice many hoof prints around the plants and sometimes some scat or droppings. Deer feces are small hard spheres, and you should get rid of them before they attract rodents like rats.
Deer have two easily identifiable prints that resemble elongated cloven leaves made by the divided toes in each foot. A third dewclaw at the back of each foot’s hoof makes a tiny indentation, making the center of the cloven leaf prints.
Plants Have Been Trampled
Unlike other pesky critters, deer aren’t careful when they move through plants, eating and trampling. Not only will your Hostas be destroyed, but the ground and other uneaten shrubs will also have been dug up and scattered all over.
To keep deer from coming back to clear your garden of Hostas that will die anyway, remove the damaged shrubbery. You can cut back hostas to the ground, and they’ll get right up and bloom beautiful fragrant flowers within a couple of months.
Which Hostas Do Deer Prefer?
For Hostas, the fragrance is what attracts deer. The more fragrant your hostas, the better chance they stand at being destroyed.
These animals are also drawn to non-variegated varieties of Hostas, which means those that only have green leaves. That’s unlike their yellow, green-olive, or white-leafed counterparts that deer don’t find as tasty. Variegated types of Hostas, whose leaves are also cream, gold, or even blue-colored, will also have solid patterns, stripes, or blotches.
Artificial Hostas varieties are the only deer-resistant shrubs guaranteeing 100% damage from these critters. With over 270 species of fragrant Hostas on the market, species of the flowering shrub that you should avoid if you have a deer menace include;
Fragrant Blue Hostas:
This shrubbery grows to around 12 inches and has heart-shaped blue-green leaves. In mid-summer, light lavender fragrant flowers appear.
Fragrant Gold Hostas:
These gold-leafed Hostas can reach 18 inches tall with fragrant light lavender leaves.
Fragrant Bouquet Hostas:
A rapid grower that forms thick 24-inch wide and 18-inch tall mounds, these Hostas have apple green leaves with light yellow margins. The leaves are irregular shaped and highly fragrant white flowers with a bluish tinge will appear from mid-July to August.
Heaven Sent Hostas:
These have light green with wide gold margin leaves and can reach 18 inches tall. Heaven sent hostas, or Hosta plantaginea will bloom pure white fragrant flowers in midsummer.
With light green foliage, these Hostas grow to 18 and 24 inches tall. Pale lavender fragrant flowers will bloom around mid-august.
This is another heart-shaped leaf variety of Hostas that forms a mound 36 inches wide and 24 inches tall. With its 10-inch long and 7-inch broad leaves, this Hostas blooms trumpet-shaped white flowers in August.
The leaves of this Hostas are similar to others of the subspecies H. plantaginea, and its fragrant flowers are pure white and double.
A mound 12 inches wide and 10 inches tall is formed by these Hostas, which offers an improved sun tolerance. In mid-summer, invincible produces light lavender flowers that are fragrant.
You may also want to check out Do Deer Eat Corn
How Do You Keep Deer from Eating Your Hostas?
Deer against Hostas can sometimes appear like a losing battle, but you aren’t alone. One weapon that these animals employ is their preference for nighttime raids into your garden. Hostas that you’ll find damaged in the morning means a possibility that the primary culprits are these four-legged nocturnal raiders.
In case you suspect that deer are munching on your Hostas foliage, keep them in check by;
Limiting Their Access to Your Garden or Flower Beds
By limiting the entry of deer into your property, you can deal with the issue of having your Hostas preyed on. While easier said than done, complete elimination of critter access is excellent in keeping them from returning. Remember that deer can jump high, so consider robust, tall fences that tower up to 10 or 12 feet.
If a high fence isn’t an option, get an outward hedge that’s up to six or eight feet in height. You can confuse deer by setting these fences at a 60° angle; otherwise, you’ll have to cover your flowers with floaters or nets at night.
Using Motion-Sensitive Detection Systems
You can employ motion-sensitive lights to protect your Hostas from deer damage during the night. Every time the animals venture into your garden, such lights come on to scare them away.
Low-tech wind chimes also make great deer repellants while remaining quintessential outdoor classic accents. One downside is that deer are incredibly adaptive animals, and they’ll soon get used to the harmless sound of chimes. The best strategy involves teeming up these booby traps with other sensors, such as emitting sound or turning on a sprinkler system.
Confusing the Deer into Leaving Your Hostas Alone
It’s true; deer repellant is one thing you can use to the advantage of your precious Hostas. Readily available options will have a relevantly profound impact on the marauding deer’s tactile and olfactory abilities. You can spray some close to your shrubs, maintaining a schedule of application until deer’s senses get so offended that they no longer venture there.
In case of rains or irrigation, make sure to re-apply deer repellent solutions that hunters use to keep their prey oblivious to human presence. Though there are many types of repellants, try the ones with high sulfurous stinks made from old eggs, garlic peels, or chilies.
Surrounding Your Hostas with Plants That Aren’t Deer Friendly
While deer are opportunistic eaters that’ll feed on anything when they’re hungry, there are plants they desperately avoid. Incorporating such shrubs with your Hostas will provide a circle of protection against imminent destruction.
Some strong dislikes of deer include lavender, peonies, and marigolds due to their flowers’ aroma. Deer stay away from anything around these plants, alongside those that are toxic to the animal. Daffodils and poppies are two flowering shrubs that make the herbivores sick and offer a buffer zone when planted together with Hostas.
Making the Deer Frightened
You can rid deer from your garden and save Hostas from complete devastation by mixing up your conventional repellent methods. Many visual deterrents can work well with sprays, changing them up every time the animals visit.
Use sprinkler systems that respond to motion detectors together with pie plates hung from posts. If all fails, employ a ferocious dog that barks off the critters.
Planting Your Hostas Right Next To Structures
Due to the skittishness of deer, they’re always alert and won’t come near buildings where people are. Putting up your plants close to the house or other structures discourages these herbivores from venturing too close. It also helps put up the flowering shrubs where people will see the critters if they come feeding.
While this method may not work very well for nocturnal deer invaders, you can use it alongside other preventative measures for protecting Hostas. Your plants also thrive better in the shade, and you’ll have the added advantage of better foliage and more fragrant blooms.
Recipe for a Homemade Deer Repellant
As you can now see, using deer repellent to keep the animals from your Hostas is the quickest fix for a tangible solution. While retail brands exist in plenty, you can make a solution that works well and with items found around the house.
Such an easy to prepare repellant will involve ingredients like;
- An egg
- Milk, one glass
- Water, half a gallon
- Garlic powder and red pepper pieces in significant amounts
To make the solution, mix all the ingredients in a basin and cover. Let the mix sit for at least five days in a warm shade. Once you have a poignant solution, spray using a broad brush onto your Hostas bushes.
The half-gallon of such a mix is sufficient for at least 100 plants and should be applied in broad brush strokes. Treat the shrubs in the morning and evening when the sunlight isn’t direct, and remember to re-apply when it rained, or you’ve watered your flowering plants.
Hostas can liven up any garden and home with their stunningly beautiful leaves and fragrant flowers. It’s therefore essential to keep them safe from being devoured, trampled, and destroyed by deer. Planting these shrubs near your patio, walk or deck offers a better appreciation of their aromatic flowering and accenting foliage.
Enjoying your Hostas, however, will be determined by how much you can protect them from deer. While these aren’t the only plants the animal will eat, you can incorporate those it hates during the planning of your garden layout.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.