Deer browsing is a subject that can make a lot of gardeners crazy. Trying to protect prized shrubs while in bloom or leafy perennials throughout the growing season can be difficult, time consuming, and often expensive. Luckily, Yarrow is a perennial that deer will rarely damage or even come close to. Deer do not prefer to eat plants that have highly textured leaves or strong smells. Yarrow has very hairy stems and leaves that deer may try when juicy green shoots first emerge in spring. Once the stems mature and get hairy, deer are more likely to pass Yarrow right by.
According to Rutgers University Yarrow is Seldom Severely Damaged on their scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged.
Keeping Deer Away From Yarrow
Not much needs to be done to keep deer from eating Yarrow. Deer are naturally repelled from plants that have highly textured leaves and stems or strong scents. This does not mean that deer will never eat Yarrow. A deer that is very hungry will try to eat any plant. Winter or early spring is usually the only time when deer would be hungry enough to eat unappealing plants. This is also the time that Yarrow is still dormant or just emerging for the growing season.
If deer are bothering the new spring growth of Yarrow, some kind of cover can be put over the plant until it gets large enough to defend itself. The cover could be simply bird netting draped across the area or horticultural cloth to keep the plant protected. Once the growth picks up, remove the cover before it becomes tangled in the foliage.
Will Yarrow Come Back After Deer Eat Them?
Yarrow is a very tough and hardy perennial that will easily grow back if deer decide to nibble. The only major damage that might occur is if the newly emerging crowns in the spring get eaten. Even if that happens, the root mass should be large enough to send up new shoots on a well established plant. The best thing to do is place a temporary barrier over the Yarrow until it becomes big enough to protect itself.
Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018
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