Deer lawd — the easiest way to keep deer from eating your tulips

Updated Oct 12 2015
bijouxandbits
caption
My Irish-Springed tulips. Deer photo remixed from AirwolfhoundCC BY 2.0)

Here in the U.S., we have a lot of deer. So many in my area that we often see them chilling by the side of the road in groups like it ain't no thing. And for those of you who grow flowers in your garden, you might know that they enjoy eating the fine delicacy that is your colorful tulips. They also love pansies, chrysanthemums, hyacinths… all the pretty stuff, the bastids.

There are lots of ways that you can keep the deer away, but they often includes deterrents such as urine (wolf, dog, fox, etc.), hot pepper spray, growing other plants around the tulips, deer repellent, or even human hair. Most of these options are a little unsavory or contain chemicals you don't really want around.

My favorite way to keep the deer in check is to hang or grate some strong-smelling soap like Irish Spring around the flower beds. The deer dislike it and you don't have to buy anything expensive or… you know, urine-y.

  1. What keeps the bunnies and squirrels from munching tulips? We moved into a house with a yard and gardens this past fall, and now that it's spring, we're starting to see a bunch of munched flowers.

    • Plant a couple onions in your flower bed. Rabbits hate onions. It also keeps rabbits out of your veggie garden to plant them around the perimeter.

  2. Brush your fluffy dog outside, and tuck the fur around the perimeter of the garden!

    I haven't tried the soap idea, but it kind of reminds me of soap on a rope from camp. 🙂

  3. RESOAP AFTER RAIN!
    I usually buy Irish spring in bulk, and grate all of it at once and keep it in a little airtight container by the door for easy touch ups.
    Also, I Must Garden Rabbit Repellent, is my favorite all natural organic rabbit spray that is safe for edible plants and wont harm the surrounding land or water.

  4. I don't have a deer or a tulip problem but I am curious what is the effect of grating soap ( which is alkaline ) into your soil. Is it so little it just doesn't matter?

    • From what I can tell, this practice has such little impact that it doesn't really matter. I work at a museum and legally we have to use all natural/organic repellents and we were able to use this method for our out of sight gardens. If you are really concerned you could perhaps try rotating your deterrent methods using natural sprays, soaps and peppers.

  5. one thing that one of my friends clued me into that she used when gardening with her parents as a child, which I've yet to try out, is to put ground cayenne pepper around (and on) your plants. The spice will detract critters from eating your plants and vegetables — most creatures, even those down South (US) where she's from won't touch the stuff. I plan on implementing this when I get a nice, big 'ol bucket of the stuff as I have a something eating my vegetables.

    • This worked for me! But you have to reapply regularly. I think it was a ground hog/woodchuck that was eating the tip of my cucurbits.

    • This also works to keep bugs from eating your poor plants too! of course reapply after it rains, and it varies on how often you have to do it. I usually re sprinkle about once a week while I am out weeding.

    • I met a lady who uses the bitter no-chew spray for dogs on her non-edibles. It's alcohol-based. As a dog trainer, I've tasted the stuff, and personally /I/ would not risk it a second time! ;P

      • We once tried that bitter apple spray on my cat who had chewed all his fur from his belly.

        He thought we were applying a tasty, encouraging, "sauce" to his fur and skin. It actually made him chew that area WORSE. Apparently my cat is just a freak.

        • The bitter apple spray never worked with my teething puppy either. A fresh cut lemon rubbed on the corner of the sof did the trick almost immediately.
          As for bitter apples on the plants, I doubt if that would deter the deer here as the neighbor has an apple tree and they've been seen eating the green ones that fall to the ground like a treat.

  6. Living somewhere where deer are only found in a few forests, it seems crazy that this is a concern of people's! It's as bizarre as having to prevent like…flying reindeer eating your flowers.

    • HA! Same here 🙂 The most pesky pests in my area are slugs and maybe… worms? Granted, far out in the countryside you would find feisty groundhogs totally ravaging the hell out of your zucchinis, but that's as bad as it gets.

      Whereabout in the States do you find yourself face to face with deers in your garden (so I can pack my stuff and come and live there!)?

      • The Northeast? Generally, places that the forests are being encroached on by new developments. Hunting isn't allowed within a certain distance of residences, but there isn't enough food left in the amount of forest space, so deer venture out to look for tasty treats in our gardens!

        • It's a problem even in more rural areas of the Northeast (I'm from central PA, myself). Where there are deer, there are deer munching in people's gardens…

      • Definitely most areas of Northern California and Oregon that are not urban. We don't have as much of a dear problem as in the Northeast, but they are still all over, just maybe not quite as out of hand.

      • I grew up in the PNW, and at the garden store I worked at in high school we sold adhesive backed copper tape to repel slugs. Apparently it has a very mild electrical current that creatures with hydrostatic skeletons can't/won't cross.

  7. Facinating! I had no idea you could buy wolf urine. Or any urine for that matter. Is there a huge Pee Corporation (or a Business Business) that employs someone to follow foxes around with one of those kidney shaped medical trays??

    • Trained farmers and breeders collect urine, oil/pheromones, and also semen samples from their livestock. Generally they don't try to collect from wild animals unless they are tranquilized. It's not glamorous work, but people pay a premium for even small samples of these attractants!

    • my mind's eye is, like, Elmer Fudd with a voiding tray instead of a rifle saying, "be vewy, vewy quiet. I'm hunting wowf yoowin."

  8. The only thing that has kept deer out of our yard has been a 4 foot fence. We're on a big path for them (in Suburban Atlanta), but they just seem to now gravitate to the neighbor's yards instead.

    Don't rely on just being able to plant deer-resistant things, either. We've got a bunch of Nandinas that deer are supposed to hate, but we came home to a whole slew of them eating the berries one day.

      • Deer in the Southern US are much smaller than deer in the Northern US and Canada. I think worldwide, generally, the closer to the equator, the smaller the deer are.

  9. My family had pretty good luck keeping deer out of our garden by planting food *just for the deer* some ways away, and so the deer are attracted to their own food rather than the pretty flowers. Apples, clovers, cranberries, beets and sugar carrots are all great at attracting deer.
    We have been experimenting with co-planting lately: pumpkins and thistles are fair deterrents (especially in combination with an attractant), marigolds do NOT work to deter critters.

  10. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, there's deer all over the place here. Mostly they are are a problem in the wooded hills but those areas still feel pretty suburban. My friend's mom growing up had a huge problem with deer eating her garden. (and they didn't live in the boonies, just up a hill)

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.