False Indigo is not typically bothered by small herbivores or deer. However, it can be affected by the Genista Broom moth, which can devour the plant right down to the ground. Fortunately, for the home gardener, a healthy False Indigo will bounce right back from the attack with no harm done. Deer have a preference for: American Arborvitae, Candy Lily, Cherries, European Mountain Ash, Evergreen Azaleas, Hardy Geranium, Hostas, Pinxterbloom Azalea, Plums, Rhododendrons, Sea Holly, Strawberry, Tulip, Wintercreeper, and Yews.
Evergreens and some trees are more likely to be eaten by deer during winter months when their normal food source is scarce. Trees and perennials in the list above may be predated by deer at any time of the year when they are actively growing. According to Rutgers University, False Indigo is rated A on their list of plants damaged by deer, which means it is rarely eaten by them.
Keeping Deer Away From False Indigo
A small fence or the use of thorny shrubs around the plant may help deter deer from browsing False Indigo. Although baptisia is not preferred by deer, it may become a food source when their usual food sources are scarce. Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent may be sprayed on or near the plant to deter herbivores on those rare instances that the plant is predated by them. Deer or rabbits are least likely to eat the foliage, but the soft, tender roots may be eaten by voles on occasion. A simple wire mesh surrounding the crown should help keep them away.
Will False Indigo Come Back After Deer Eat Them?
False Indigo is a tough perennial and on the odd occasion that deer sample them, the plants will suffer no long-term damage and will grow back fine the following spring. However, any damage done during the plant’s growing season will remain visible and will interfere with the plant’s normal growth process for that season. As False Indigo blooms at the end of long stalks, any area damaged by deer in early spring would certainly halt the flowering for that year.
False Indigo blooms on new growth, so the following season would not be affected by deer predation the previous season. Fertilizing a False Indigo after deer browsing is not recommended. False Indigo are not lovers of artificially fertilized soils, and fertilizing them may boost foliage production at the expense of blooming.
Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018
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