Hosta are a genus of plants widely grown as shade loving plants with unique foliage. There are around 45 different species of hosta, that range from 1 inch tall to over 6 feet tall. Unfortunately, deer love to eat hosta and it is one of their favorite plants to eat.
Photo Credit Terri Meyer, Edgerton WI
According to Rutgers University this plant is Frequently Severely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged.
When deer eat hosta, they eat the foliage of the leaves and leave behind the stems. It leaves behind the stalks. Another animal that will routinely eat hosta are slugs. But the damage will be much different. Read more about hostas eating slugs. A good way to tell if its deer doing the damage is by looking for deer prints or droppings near the plants.
How To Keep Deer Away From Hosta
Some hosta are marketed to have a little bit of deer resistance. However, if deer are hungry enough almost any plant can be food for deer. It is best to learn how to keep deer away from your plants.
Protecting Deer From Hosta
The surest way to keep deer away is with a fence. But you will need a fence that is taller than 8 feet tall. Check with your local extension office to see how high the deer can jump in your area, because 8 feet tall may not be tall enough. Also be sure to check with your HOA to ensure you can have a fence that tall. Invisible fencing can also be used. With this approach you will use a small thin post that emits a fragrant smell that attracts the deer. Once the deer try and lick the post, it emits a small shock. This will train the deer to not come close to the garden.
The other way, which is much easier but not as effective is to use a repellent spray. It is best to alternate sprays so the deer don’t get too comfortable with a specific scent.
Home remedies like essential oils, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, lavender, cinnamon, clove, or anything with a strong scent can help keep deer away. Pet dogs will often help deter deer too, because they are so skittish. Automated noise & light sensors will scare deer away as they try and get close to your garden as well. Last, you can use human hair. The scent of humans can sometimes repel deer. Some of these options will not be very effective if the deer are hungry in your area.
Tips To Deter Deer From Eating Your Hostas
- Repellent Spray
- Fragrant home remedies like garlic and cayenne powder
- Pet dogs
- Automated light and sound emitters
Will Hosta Come Back After Deer Eat Them?
The good news is that hosta plants should recover just fine if deer decide to eat them. We recommend cutting back the plants to the ground if this happens. If this is early enough in the year, the hosta may produce new leaves still yet that year. However, most often you will need to wait until the following spring for the hosta to produce leaves again. During the winter, be sure to provide extra protection to the roots by covering it with mulch or straw.
If you know of other ways to keep deer away from Hosta, feel free to contact us and let us know. We would be happy to add it to our list!
Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018
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Author Chris Link - Published 10-27-2020