Deer are creatures of habit often following the same paths daily. They are adaptable, curious, and opportunistic feeders. If a deer is hungry enough, it will eat anything. Deer select food based on smell and strong smelling plants may make it more difficult for them to locate food. Plants like yarrow, bee balm, and Russian sage are good examples. For a complete listing of deer resistant plants, contact the Polk County Conservation office at 515-323-5300.
There are numerous repellents and barriers on the market that may work to keep deer out of your garden. Success with repellents is measured by reduction, not total elimination, of damage. Contact repellents are applied directly on a plant and repel deer by taste. Area repellents are applied near protected plants and keep deer away by odor. Most repellents need to be reapplied after a rain. Many repellents are safe for the environment, but read the application directions closely. Some repellents shouldn’t be used on fruits and vegetables. A homemade repellent that may work is a combination of eggs, water, and garlic powder.
Homemade Deer Repellent
2 C. water
1-2 T. dry garlic powder
2 T. Tabasco (optional)
Put in blender and blend until frothy. This mixture is best if allowed to rest, covered, for several days prior to application. Mix this with one gallon of water in a hand sprayer. Saturate the plants and ground area around the plants with this mixture. Repeat every three to four weeks. Ensure the plants and ground is dry before you begin and there isn’t an immediate threat of rain.