Boston ferns are great for both indoor and outdoor gardens. Still, many pests can feed on the Boston fern’s green fronds. This begs the question, do deer eat Boston ferns?
While deer are usually the number-one suspect when it comes to eating plants, under normal conditions, deer don’t usually go for Boston ferns.
Keep reading to know why deer tend to stay away from the ferns and what other animals may be eating your Boston ferns.
The short answer is no. While deer can eat many types of ferns, they usually won’t try to eat a Boston fern.
It’s important to note that deer will probably stay away from Boston ferns in favor of other plants, but they can eat Boston ferns if nothing else is around. This can be especially true in the winter.
Still, Boston ferns aren’t the typical snack for most wildlife animals, especially deer.
What makes Boston ferns great for outdoor gardens is that they’re somewhat deer-resistant. Deer will usually stay away from any harmful, fragrant, or spiky plants.
Ferns aren’t toxic to deer, but thankfully, they don’t appeal to them. That’s because their fronds are too long, their texture isn’t likable, and lastly, they just don’t taste good to deer.
On the other hand, deer love soft plants that have a sweet smell and taste. So, if you plant your ferns with these plants, the deer might accidentally eat a part of your Boston fern.
Moreover, deer’s taste differs from one herd to the other. While deer might completely stay away from ferns in one area, another herd in a different area might have a liking for ferns!
There are many insects and animals that might prey on your Boston ferns. If you find your fern looking somewhat unwell, there are a few suspects that may come to mind.
The first thing to think about is pets. If you, or your neighbor, own dogs, cats, or any other pets, chances are they were tempted by the fronds of your Boston fern.
This shouldn’t cause any worries, though. While a lot of ferns are toxic to pets, Boston ferns are true ferns, which means they’re generally safe. Other than some digestion issues, your pet will be completely fine.
Other sneaky culprits that might be eating your Boston fern are beavers. It’s a misconception that beavers only feed on wood; they also enjoy soft grass and ferns. Additionally, their taste buds stop at nothing, so they might dig up the fern’s rhizome to munch on it!
That being said, there are only a few animals that feed on Boston ferns, and they only do so in extreme conditions.
In most cases, insects are the main pests for Boston ferns. Even though Boston ferns are hardy and rarely get infected by insects, a couple of species might get the better of the Boston fern. These include flying insects, mealybugs, snails, slugs, and rasping insects.
Each of these pests leaves certain scars on the fern’s leaflets, which can be used to identify which insect has infested the plant, thus getting rid of it.
If the underside of the leaflet has black rot, whiteflies are the ones to blame in this case. On the other hand, snails and caterpillars chew on the fern’s fronds, leaving multiple holes either in the middle of the leaves or at the edges.
Seeing multiple dots on leaflets that spew honeydew is indicative of mealworms and other sucking insects. Alternatively, rasping insects leave the fern’s fronds curled or even dead.
If you live in an area near wildlife, it’s inevitable for deer to graze in your garden. Still, there are a few solutions to keep deer away from your garden, including:
Deer stay away from strong scents. So, it’s only natural that spraying a repellent spray all over your garden will keep the grazing animals away.
You’ll need to use a deer repellent that’s pungent enough to scare deer off while still being safe to your plants. It should also be noted that these sprays will also scare off any birds or animal guests you might want in your garden.
Many people find that deer repellent sprays don’t work. However, if you only spray a couple of spritzes every once in a while, they surely won’t work!
You need to be rigorously and regularly spraying the deer repellent. This way, the smell can spread further and stay for a longer time.
The simplest solution to keep deer away is to grow plants that deer won’t touch. Like Boston ferns, there are a lot of deer-resistant plants. Growing a bunch of them next to each other will help you achieve a completely deer-free garden.
As previously mentioned, deer stay away from bitter-tasting, fragrant plants, not to be confused with sweet-smelling plants. You’ll want to grow shrubs and flowers that have a herbal smell.
Additionally, deer will stay away from any prickly foliage. So, if your plants have fuzzy, spiky leaves, deer won’t come near them, let alone eat them.
If you want a deer-proof garden, then putting a high-enough fence will definitely keep deer from getting through.
Sure, you can spray deer repellent and grow deer-resistant plants, but these tactics don’t ensure deer won’t get into your garden. The best thing is to consider deer-proof fencing.
Not only should the fences be high enough, but they should also be durable, with no gaps in between where deer can slip through.
There are other deer-repellent methods that work mainly by scaring the deer. These include motion-activated sprinklers, night lights, and sound systems.
Do deer eat Boston ferns? Generally, ferns aren’t the best food for deer. However, if there’s nothing else to eat, especially in winter, deer might graze on your Boston ferns.
Even though you don’t need to worry about deer eating your Boston ferns, other culprits might munch on the fronds. Namely, beavers and insects.
Along with other methods, such as deer repellant spray and high fences, planting Boston ferns and other deer-resistant plants can help you achieve the deer-free garden of your dreams.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.