While used as an antioxidant-rich salad ingredient by humans, roses of Sharon are on a next-to-last-resort for most deer, according to reports. (Unlike, say, hostas or hydrangea, which seem to be like chocolate and donuts to them.) Of course, being wild animals trying to survive the winter, if they are hungry enough, deer will sample things they usually skip. That’s when you’d be most likely to see any damage from deer browsing on your plant.
According to Rutgers University this plant is Rarely Severely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged, so they recommend it as a good garden bet even in areas shared with deer.
Keeping Deer Away from Rose of Sharon
So to be really sure to keep the hungriest deer away from your prized shrub, here are some ideas to try. Physical barriers are the most effective, from eight foot garden fences to wire cages for individual plants. Cages should be made from strong wire used for cattle or pig fencing. The next level of defense would be using repellents like pepper spray, coyote urine, or even the famous “Irish Spring” soap remedy. These need regular application after every rain so can be hard to keep up with. Lastly, a plant barricade made up of thorny guards like holly, berberis, or groundcover roses or highly scented plants like sage or rosemary can be helpful.
Will Roses of Sharon Come Back After Deer Eat Them?
If some mischievous deer got to your rose of Sharon, not to worry. These shrubs bloom on “new wood” or growth from the current season. So, if deer ate the plant early enough, there is probably time for the plant to grow new stems and flowers. Even if they got it after the buds formed, a mature rose of Sharon should bounce back for next year. Trim back the rough cuts to a bud if there is one, and try to leave at least a foot of stem from the base of the ground.
Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018
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