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Help! Deer Ate My Petunias – 6 Foolproof Ways To Protect Your Flowers

Help! Deer Ate My Petunias – 6 Foolproof Ways To Protect Your Flowers

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Deer aren’t picky eaters.

Though they have their favorites (hostas, daylilies, and roses) deer will often consume whatever plant they come across when they’re hungry.

One such plant is the petunia, a popular garden plant of the nightshade family.

If you woke up to ruined petunias, you might have been visited by a particularly enthusiastic (and hungry) deer.

Petunias aren’t deer resistant, so you’ll have to employ several methods to keep deer out of your garden if you want them to continue blooming brightly.

Are Petunias Deer Resistant? Science Says No

According to a study published by Rutgers University, petunias aren’t deer resistant and fall under the C rating of “Occasionally Severely Damaged,” meaning that they’re prone to be damaged by deer from time to time.

To deer, petunias are like candies. They have tender foliage and succulent leaves with vibrant blooms, which entices deer to graze on them.

Certain varieties of petunias also emit alluring fragrances. Examples include Grandiflora Petunias, which has a sweet, honey-like scent, Double Petunias with a sweet, fruity fragrance, and Pendula Petunias with a delicate, clove-like aroma.

And since petunias come in bright shades of pink, purple, white, and red, deer are more likely to approach as they browse for food.

Do Deer Eat Petunias?

Yes, deer eat petunias.

Deer don’t actively seek out petunias but they wouldn’t say no to them when presented, especially when food sources are scarce.

Petunias are moist, fragrant, and succulent, especially at their earlier stages.

Young petunias have a high water content, which can make them particularly enticing for deer seeking hydration along with a quick snack.

How to Prevent Deer From Eating Petunia

If you’re a proud owner of a petunia garden and currently battling with the ever-hungry gaze of deer, here are some tried-and-true methods to prevent them from feasting on your flowers.

1 – Surround Your Petunias With Fencing

The best and arguably easiest way to protect petunias from deer is to build fences around them.

But just any fence won’t do; you want to add straight fences with a height of at least eight feet.

Adult deer can jump up to seven feet and squeeze through small gaps in horizontal or vertical slatted fences.

Straight fencing accounts for both factors; its height deters deer from jumping over, and its solid construction prevents them from slipping through small openings.

2 – Establish Levels

If fencing doesn’t dissuade deer from munching on your prized petunias, the next best thing to do is to establish levels within your garden.

You can do this by adding raised beds or terraces. Deer aren’t the most adept at climbing, so they’re less likely to venture onto elevated surfaces to reach your petunias.

The problem with this solution is that it requires additional time, effort, and resources to implement.

Adding raised beds or terraces can be labor-intensive and expensive, costing between $20 to $65 per square foot for professional installation.

And if you’re working with established petunias, transporting them to raised structures can affect their growth and health.

Still, establishing levels isn’t only an excellent deer repellent but also adds aesthetic appeal to your garden. If you do decide to go through with it, it’s often a worthy investment.

3 – Plant Deer-Resistant Plants

Another great way to ward off deer is to plant deer-resistant plants around your petunias.

Deer aren’t too fond of plants that have strong scents or tastes, such as lavender, sage, marigolds, and peonies.

By planting these plants, you create a natural barrier that makes your garden less appealing to deer.

4 – Install Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Deer are skittish creatures.

They run away from loud noises and sudden movements.

This is why installing motion-activated sprinklers is an effective way to startle deer and keep them away.

When the sensors detect movement, the sprinklers activate, spraying water and creating a sudden burst of noise that scares away deer.

5 – Cover Your Petunias With Netting

Covering petunias with deer netting isn’t my first choice when deterring deer because it covers up the beautiful flowers.

However, there’s no denying that deer netting is an effective and cheap solution to prevent deer from munching on your plants.

Deer netting costs anywhere from $10 to $30, depending on the length. To install, simply stretch the netting around your flower bed and secure it with stakes or clips.

If you’re using petunias as companion plants—i.e., planted alongside other flowers or vegetables to fill up space or deter pests—deer netting could be an option.

6 – Use Deer Repellent Sprays

I’m not going to lie, deer repellent sprays smell awful.

That’s really the whole point since they contain strong-smelling and bitter-tasting ingredients that deer find unappealing (eggs, garlic, capsaicin, etc.).

Unfortunately, these ingredients are just as foul-smelling to us as they are to deer. If you don’t mind the stench, deer-repellent sprays are incredibly effective.

Just make sure to avoid chemical repellents that contain lime sulfur, nicotine, Thiran, ammonia, and mothballs, as they can be noxious and dangerous to both deer and people.

Final Thoughts

Petunias aren’t deer-resistant. If you live near a forested area and have a bunch planted, you may want to implement the above-mentioned strategies to protect them from deer damage.

This includes installing fencing, using deeper repellents, planting deer-resistant companion plants, and utilizing deer netting.

Test and combine one or more of these methods and see which one fits best.

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