Do Deer Consume Geraniums?
Geraniums are a beloved flowering plant for gardening enthusiasts, thanks to their ease of growth, maintenance, vibrant colors, and pleasant aroma. These attractive plants, however, may sometimes become a tasty treat for deer.
Geraniums can be grown both indoors (during late summer and early spring) and outdoors (in warmer months). Naturally, gardeners don’t want deer to ruin their garden filled with Geraniums.
So, do deer eat Geraniums? Let’s explore the relationship between Geraniums and deer, and discuss how to protect these flowering plants from being consumed by deer.
Are Geraniums Deer Resistant?
Geraniums are not a deer’s top choice for a meal. Deer find these flowering plants to have a strong smell, bitter taste, fuzzy texture, and even toxic properties. However, deer may occasionally consume Geraniums when food is scarce. It’s essential to remember that deer will eat almost anything with flowers, including strawberries, tulips, and hostas.
In other words, Geraniums are not entirely deer resistant.
During warmer months when most plants are in bloom, deer will typically avoid Geraniums due to their pungent smell. Most gardeners consider Geraniums to be deer-resistant during this season.
Deer-resistant plants often have a strong taste, overpowering smell, and fuzzy leaves. Therefore, it’s a good idea to protect your garden if you live in an area with a high deer population. However, finding a plant that is truly deer-resistant all year round can be challenging.
Many gardeners use Geraniums as a deer-resistant plant, but there is no concrete evidence that these flowering plants are 100% deer resistant.
Why Do Deer Eat Geraniums?
Food shortages often occur during the colder months (October to February), causing deer to find Geraniums more appealing. Geraniums tend to thrive better in colder seasons with low temperatures and high rainfall, making them more abundant in gardens.
As herbivores, deer typically consume plants, shrubs, and flowers. Since Geraniums often grow alongside other plants, they may become susceptible to being eaten by deer.
Effective Methods to Keep Deer Away from Geraniums
Several effective techniques, such as fencing, motion-activated sprinklers, and repellents, can be used to deter deer from eating Geraniums. While these methods may not be 100% foolproof, they are worth trying to protect your garden plants.
Fencing your garden is one of the most effective ways to keep deer away from your Geraniums. Fences create a barrier that discourages deer from entering your property. You can use black mesh 8ft tall metal t-bar garden posts, electric, or wooden fences, depending on your preference.
Ensure the fence is high enough (at least 8 feet tall) since deer are excellent jumpers and can easily clear 6ft.
2. Using Repellents
Use reliable store-bought repellents or create homemade DIY repellents. For a DIY repellent, mix 2 eggs, hot sauce, garlic, and 2 cups of soapy water and let it sit overnight. Thoroughly spray the entire flower bed, covering every spot.
3. Surrounding with Other Plants
Plant toxic or deer-resistant flowers like sage, peonies, and irises around the garden or alongside your Geraniums. Ensure these plants have a strong enough smell or toxicity level to deter deer.
4. Utilizing Motion-Activated Sprinklers
Install motion-sensor sprinklers near the garden, so when a deer approaches or enters the garden, the sprinklers will be activated, scaring the deer away. Position the sprinklers near the flower bed rather than directly inside it.
5. Employing Visually Unappealing Techniques
An attractive, colorful garden with fruits and flowering plants can draw deer in. Changing the landscape or reducing the number of plants that deer prefer to eat can help mitigate this issue.
You can also try other methods, such as using a white flag that is visually unappealing to deer or spreading dog hair near the flower bed to make the area unattractive and scare them away.
What Are Other Deer-Repelling Plants?
Deer are generally not attracted to plants with strong or pungent smells, nor do they prefer bitter-tasting herbs. Flowers with a bitter taste can be toxic and negatively affect deer digestion or cause sickness.
Since deer have sensitive noses, they can detect smells from a significant distance. Strong-scented plants like lavender and mint can help keep them at bay. Bitter-tasting herbs such as daffodils and foxglove are also discouraging to deer.
Other deer-repelling plants include Lamb’s ear, Bleeding heart, Russian sage, Marigolds, Cardinal flower, Oregano, and Iris.
It’s important to note that not all of these plants are 100% deer resistant. Like Geraniums, deer may still eat them when food is scarce in the wild.
Can Geraniums Recover After Deer Eat Them?
Whether or not Geraniums can recover after being eaten by deer depends on the type of Geranium and the extent of the damage.
Perennial and Pelargonium are the two most common Geranium types that gardeners grow. Perennial Geraniums may die after extensive deer damage but can regrow if the damage is minimal. Pelargoniums can withstand significant grazing, often sprouting more robustly and beautifully after extensive trimming.
It’s crucial to protect your Geranium garden from deer using any of the methods mentioned above. Additionally, using fertilizers can help boost Geranium growth.
Do Other Animals Eat Geraniums, and How Can You Keep Them Away?
Deer aren’t the only animals that can threaten your Geraniums. Other animals, such as Geranium budworms, pervasive caterpillars, rats, birds, and insects (like butterflies, mites, and aphids), can also eat and damage Geraniums.
Birds typically don’t consume the entire plant but will sip nectar from the flowers. Rats can cause extensive damage by eating the flowers and buds. Budworms bore holes in the stems, branches, leaves, and buds of Geraniums.
Thankfully, you can use the same deer-resistant techniques to deter these pests from feasting on your Geraniums.
Effective methods include using repellents, dogs, and fences. Traps for rodents can also be helpful. Miniature scarecrows can keep birds away from your garden, and introducing “insect predators” like ladybugs can help control aphid infestations. However, ensure the predators you introduce don’t feed on the Geraniums themselves.
Insecticidal soap or fertilizers might help reduce insect infestations in your garden, but their effectiveness will depend on the specific issue.
Geraniums are beautiful, colorful plants that enhance the appearance and aroma of any garden. Unfortunately, their scent can attract herbivorous and omnivorous mammals, as well as hungry pests and insects. It’s essential to understand how to deal with these threats to ensure healthy Geranium growth in your garden using the methods discussed above.
Lastly, keep in mind that Geraniums are not 100% deer resistant. Always be vigilant and proactive in protecting your garden to prevent any potential damage from deer or other animals.