Oh Deer, My Roses!

Oh Deer, My Roses!

As you are probably already aware, deer love roses! Many customers come to us for a solution to the deer problems in their rose gardens. Today, we will give you some information about deer, their behavior and a variety of deer prevention methods.We hope you find this information helpful for keeping your rose garden lush and beautiful.

So why is it that deer like roses? If you are in North Carolina, the deer here enjoy just about any green plant. Deer typically eat plants that are 12 inches or taller. Most roses are at a perfect height for these hungry animals. Roses offer nice, tender new growth and, based on the blooming cycle of the roses, they offer food regularly. Most people that have roses have a lot of them which offers the deer plenty to munch on and a good variety. Deer prefer the nice new growth of a rose, but don’t be surprised if you find some of the more mature growth on the plant nibbled on, especially late in the blooming season. In addition, it is important to keep an eye on your garden during the winter. Recent winters have not been as cold as usual and many roses didn’t drop their leaves.This left more food for the deer. If you notice deer damage in your garden during the winter, it is important to cut this out when you prune your roses at the start of the spring season. For example, if you see deer damage in January, cut out the damage in February when you prune your roses.

Deer Prevention

Deer Prevention Products are Available at Witherspoon Rose Culture

*During the blooming season it is important to make a fresh cut when you see deer damage in your roses. This will prompt your roses to push out fresh new growth.


Deer are attracted to well-watered and well-fertilized plants.They find these gardens appealing since the plants are lush with lots of tender growth – your rose garden, for example.Although deer like to munch on all kinds of plants, there are certain types they tend not to eat.For the most part deer pass on ferns, ornamental grasses, plants with fuzzy foliage, plants that taste like lemon, mint, or sage, and hot or spicy plants like peppers.

It is a good idea to have at least two resistant plants for each vulnerable plant that is in your landscape.Using deer-resistant plants as a border around your rose garden is one way to discourage deer damage. A simple internet search will lead you to a list of deer-resistant plants.


Most of the products you see on our shelves and at other garden centers are sprays to apply on and around your garden. We currently carry four different brands of deer repellent sprays; Bobbex™, I Must Garden®, Plantskydd®, and Liquid Fence®.Deer repellents can act in two ways. Some have a predator scent giving off an odor that deer are afraid of and they will avoid that area.Other sprays deter deer by taste, once the deer tastes the unpleasant flavor, they often leave that location in search of better tasting food. If you decide to use deer repellents, it is suggested that you select 2-4 different products and rotate them often. This will prevent the deer from getting used to any one scent or flavor.


Other products we carry are items that are placed in your garden to physically scare away hungry deer.Nite-Guard® is a small device (2x3” approx.) that provides a safe, solar-powered flash of red light that repels all night animals.The Guardener™ is another solar powered product that works to keep deer out of your garden using a motion detector that sprays upons detecting any activity and dispersing pressurized water to physically repel animals.

***Use more than one method of protecting your roses and alternate your strategy frequently.

Deer Season and Habitat

You should watch for deer in your garden throughout the year, though some months will be more detrimental then others.Spring time is a time of new beginnings.Fawns are born between the months of May and June.This is a time when deer are ready to eat something tastier than the twigs they have been surviving on during the winter and they shed their thick winter coats.Spring is also the time when bucks begin to regrow their antlers.Bucks have antlers throughout spring, summer, and most of the winter, but shed them sometime between January and April. Summer is very similar to spring for deer.The antlers of a buck become prominent and covered in soft velvet during the summer.It is a fairly passive time in preparation for the upcoming autumn breeding season. In the fall, deer are very active and begin to fatten up for the months ahead.Deer mostly feed early in the morning and at twilight.They seek out foods that are rich in carbohydrates. Acorns, beechnuts, pecans, apples and other soft and hard mast, in addition to crops, help pack on fat that carry deer through rutting season and winter. In northern states, some deer may migrate up to 50 miles south to find a more suitable place to live during the colder months.The metabolism of deer slows down significantly in the winter allowing them to get by on much less food than they are used to in the warmer months.

White-tailed deer are found in the 48 contiguous states.There are more than 1 million deer living in the state of North Carolina alone.Deer are so adaptable they are found in all types of habitats ranging from creek and river bottoms, oak ridges, pine forests, to farmlands.Basically, anywhere that offers food, water, and cover.

Deer adapt very well to suburban sprawl and you will often find them in your own back yard!There are fewer predators than years ago and with so many people moving to rural areas deer sightings are becoming more common.Deer have roamed these areas for a long time.Deer in rural areas are typically more timid than deer in suburban areas, so different control methods may be more effective depending on where you live.You can contact your county agriculture extension service or local wildlife management office to find information about deer activity in your area.