IN THE FIELD: Natures’ Salad Buffet

There are many types of deer resistant plants available for the home gardener. Although if deer are hungry enough, even these are not always safe from their dining pleasure. Hosta plants are no exception. There must be some kind of invisible coded message embedded in the leaves saying “Eat this. It’s chock full of vitamins, a good source of fiber and you’ll like it.”

Many folks, ourselves included, have tried with no success I might add, to growing and cultivating many varieties of hostas up here on the mountain. The scenario goes like this.

Day one. Travel to garden center and pick out the most captivating and healthiest of plants. Drive home and plant them in prime shaded areas of the garden. Water well and enjoy fruits of labor.

Day two. Neighbors visit and admire the lush foliage added to the gardens.

The deer apparently have some kind of telepathic methodology or secret coded message system they relay from herd to herd throughout the region describing in detail where to find the freshly planted specimens.

On day three, most of the hosta plants now resemble stalks of celery. While humans and pets slept, the resident herd of 25 or so deer have crept silently around the gardens and visited the “open all night” salad bar.

I truly hope the deer feel a bit guilty at times when visiting a newly planted garden. Because you see, they never eat ALL of the hostas at one sitting. They save some for another day. And just when the homeowners hopes are raised, they visit again when least expected and finish where they left off. And, there are a few deer that don’t even wait until it is dark to feast on these leafy plants. We have even seen yearlings on our front porch peeking in the windows, as if to see if the coast is clear.

We do have a few plants that survive their gorge on the free eats. This is probably due to a plant nearby not to their liking. The hosta in this photo is one that has remained under the radar and still has all it’s leaves. I swear, I swear, I swear.


  1. May 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Where I used to live there were so many deer that were ravaging entire subdivisions in this one area to a point they hired hunters! I hope to be heading off to the garden center soon to get the micro farm up and running. Great leaf shot!

  2. May 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Yeah they are sneaky buggers…we haven’t seen them for a few weeks but I know they are lurking in the woods nearby. I think I may do an herby garden this year too!

  3. May 25, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Very nice photo, David! I guess that’s the one good thing about where I live, is that there are no deers nearby to devour the plants 🙂

    • May 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      Lucky you…when we go shopping for flowers and plants we have to carry a list of deer resistant plants with us. They don’t always eat them (there is plenty of food in the woods) but when they do they really go to town!

  4. tedgriffith
    May 25, 2012 at 11:18 am

    A great shot, David! Beautiful, rich color and details. We have problems with deer as well. Two years ago the actually came next to the house and ate the tips off of our roses! They were planted within 18 inches of the house in a fenced front yard.

    • May 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      They can be pretty brazen! Fence, what fence??? Here is an old farmers trick from back east here. Tie a string around your fence on the outside about 2-3 feet off the ground and about 2-3 feet away from the fence. Use sticks or those green bamboo sticks you can buy at the nursery center. Deer get confused by the two things they would have to jump over and just stay away! It really works!!!

  5. May 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Wonderful photograph… I loved the drops, so impressive… Thank you dear David, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • May 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you Nia, and you and yours have a great weekend too!!!

  6. May 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    We don’t have the deer problem but the slugs are reducing my hostas to lace plants! Lovely photo 🙂

    • May 26, 2012 at 7:32 am

      Ewww slugs …I think they can read the same menu the deer can!!!

  7. Jo Woolf
    May 26, 2012 at 2:13 am

    We have a similar scenario, but the pests are smaller – slugs. I don’t like using slug pellets so the hostas are well and truly munched. And I really love hostas, like you! Lovely pic – I love the way the raindrops just sit on the surface like mirrors.

    • May 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

      Those buggers can be a real problem also. I read somewhere if you put some beer in a jar lid and set it on the ground near the plants they crawl into the lid and drown. Might be worth it to use some darn good refreshment to save the plants!

      • Jo Woolf
        May 27, 2012 at 5:03 am

        Thanks for the tip, David! Might give that a try.

  8. May 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Deer? Yes, I know deer well. Since we live in the mountains, we have many deer in our yard every day, all year long. They are used to people and even hang out on our deck and lawn. ‘Deer resistant’ doesn’t mean much to them. They try almost everything we plant. Our hosta never survives. I was surprised one year when they ate our pepper plants, as well as the peppers. It’s to be expected if you live among wildlife, so all of our vegetables are in a garden surrounded by a deer fence. So far, they haven’t been able to get in the garden, fortunately. It’s amusing to see them peering through the fence eyeing the pretty vegetables and different colors.

    • May 29, 2012 at 8:32 am

      I would say deer are opportunists and take advantage of whatever is easiest and tastiest! Pepper plants and the peppers?? That’s amazing! That’s funny how they hang out on your deck. I wonder if they sit at the table when you guys aren’t home…

  9. May 29, 2012 at 12:47 am

    We haven’t tried to grow hostas, but the deer here have plenty of other things to eat. Last night they ate half of an azalea bush that was just loaded with blossoms. Earlier they ate a “burning bush” that was supposed to be deer proof.

    • May 29, 2012 at 8:36 am

      I guess deer will eat just about anything given the opportunity regardless of what they have to eat in their normal habitat. You know how it is…someone else’s lunch always looks better than what you brought! ha ha. Azalea’s and burning bushes…that’s a new one. Probably better than acorns, berries and baby leaves.

  10. May 30, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Since I live in a moderately populated area we don’t have the issues of deer eating our hostas. Love the detail captured in this photograph!

  11. May 30, 2012 at 9:26 am

    You guys are lucky! I really like hostas especially since we have so much shade here, but the deer always win. Deep sigh.

  12. sarahloub
    May 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Oh no!! I love my hostas. I recently “rescued” a bunch from my mom and aunt–free hostas are even better! I’ve seen deer around a few times… I just hope they stay away from my plants!

    • June 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Can’t beat free hostas!!! Deer just love these plants when available…click on the link below in John’s comment for an excellent deer repellent!

  13. May 31, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    David, ever since I saw this formula for a homemade deer-repellant in Backyard Living magazine in 2004, I have had GREAT success with it (as long as I’m diligent and don’t get lazy about spraying). Most people in our subdivision have either given up on gardening or erect high fences to protect valuable plants. If I’m careful, I can grow all the flowers and vegetables I want and have NO deer damage for an entire growing season. here is the formula:

    Click to access deer_repellant.pdf

    • June 1, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Wow John thanks for the recipe for success. We will definitely give give this a go!!! Maybe it will have a dual effect and keep the feral cats away too…pups don’t like cats on their property…

      • June 1, 2012 at 9:33 am

        David, all the flower pictures you’ve seen in my photoblog are from my UNfenced yard. I have a rose bed, and roses are usually like sugar candy for deer. I often see a half-dozen deer in neighbors’ yards after dark. Others can see the flower pictures I’m talking about here if they browse through the “Favorites Gallery”:

        Note: today’s picture (June 1) is of the entrance walkway at my sister’s house.

  14. June 1, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I really enjoyed the post 🙂 all night open salad bar 🙂 Deer are so clever 🙂 I hope you can manage to save some of these plants from hungry creatures, the greenery looks lovely 🙂 I’ve only seen a deer from far away, I can’t imagine them peeking through the window and checking up on you, that sounds so cute 🙂 I know it’s not funny for you, but this story really made me laugh 🙂

    • June 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

      Glad you enjoyed this one Kristina…it’s all true! We just laugh about the deer issue anymore. We are careful to plant things they don’t care for much…although John from comment above gave me a recipe for homemade deer repellant! Oh…it’s usually the fawns that do the checking up on us…they are just too curious!

      • June 1, 2012 at 9:11 am

        He he happy gardening, I hope the recipe works! 🙂

  15. June 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

    That’s amazing stuff you have there John!!! I will let you know the results!!! I laughed out loud at today’s photo and quote!!

    • June 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Your enthusiasm has prompted me to share my secret with the world. I’ve just added a couple of paragraphs to the PDF and put a link to it on the Daily Graff site. I will now be on the DIA’s Most Wanted List (Deer Intelligence Agency).

  16. June 5, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Hostas must definitely be rich in nutrients and flavours as the slugs and snails go for them in a big way here! Lace doilies are what’s left once they start on their munch-fest! I’m so pleased you have some intact, un-eaten leaves though. Such a delight to see!

  17. June 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

    It’s a rare occurrence around here to have hosta plants with leaves this late in the season. We savor every minute! Hmmm green lace doilies…there could be a market for them…

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