This article is for those of you that are unhappy about deer damaging your landscape plants. For those of you who love to see deer in your landscape, there are publications mentioned near the end of this article that will help you learn about plants deer want to eat.

As with pretty much everything, proper identification is the first step—a must-do. You can identify the cause of the damage by the type, height of damage and tracks (hoof prints). Just review the information in the link provided below.

Deer and humans have some similar traits, such as issues with breaking habits once established. If they find a landscape with tasty, plentiful and nutrition-filled food sources, they may well eat to their hearts’—aka stomachs’—content. Hungry deer can consume native plant areas and decrease plant species populations.

There are several ways to manage deer populations. Some methods can be permanent, like hunting during designated seasons. Research hunting deer before proceeding. Other deer population management methods involve avoiding specific plants to which deer are attracted. Crape myrtles and gardenias sustain rare or minor damage by deer. Hibiscus is a favorite and not deer-resistant. Verbena, sage, marigolds and peace lilies are deer-resistant.

Frightening devices (fireworks, etc.) may work temporarily, although you may irritate your neighbors at the same time. Removing wildlife habitats to decrease deer populations is not a good option. That removes cover, habitat and food sources for deer and other native and non-native birds and animals.

Repellents can decrease the amount of damage but rarely eliminate it. Several options are contained in the articles above, but they are not endorsements. Bottom line: If you do want to attract deer, select plants that are susceptible to deer. If you don’t want to attract deer, plant deer-resistant plants.

Visit and type ‘deer’ in the search field to reference two excellent publications on coping with deer damage and ornamental plant susceptibility to damage by deer published by the University of Florida.

Visit the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County website at and check out our calendar of events. Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.

Contact Barber at

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