Deers are fascinating animals, and anyone would love to welcome this beautiful creature in their backyard or garden. But most plantation owners, especially people with sunflower plantations, are not very fond of them, because deers can eat or damage sunflower plants.
Do deers eat sunflowers? Yes, deers eat sunflowers. In fact, deers love chewing on the soft petals and leaves of the yellow flower. Sunflowers are pretty rich in protein and potassium, which is another prime reason for deers eating them.
So if you’re wondering how I keep deer away from eating my sunflowers or how to keep deer out of the garden, you are at the right place.
I’ll tell you everything about why deer love eating sunflowers and how to stop them from doing so. Hence, keep reading and safeguard your sunflower garden.
Are Sunflowers Deer Resistant?
No sunflowers aren’t deer resistant. Sunflowers leaves are soft and are a protein-rich plant, so deers love chewing them. Additionally, the high amount of phosphorus in sunflowers is beneficial for deer’s antler and bone growth, another cause why sunflowers are not deer resistant.
Deers also seem to be unbothered by factors like positioning the plants higher & other measures commonly adopted by gardeners to keep the plantation protected.
As a sunflower plantation owner, I have faced the same issues with deers. I tried positioning my sunflower plants higher, but it seems like deers are unaffected by it too. These animals are excellent at jumping off the fencing and enjoying their feast.
If you’re thinking there is no way you could save your sunflower, hold on. There are some ways using which you can save your sunflowers from becoming deer’s feast. I’ll discuss them later in this guide, so keep an eye on them.
Signs to Tell if Deer Are Eating Sunflowers
Damaged or torn sunflower plants could be the outcome of a lot of causes. As I mentioned earlier, bugs, ants, birds, and other animals also damage sunflowers. So how could you identify the signs of deer eating sunflowers?
It’s not that complicated. Deers are fond of some specific parts of sunflower plants so they’ll only eat those, plus they leave other noticeable signs as well. Discussed below are some of the common signs to tell if deers are eating sunflowers:
1. Ripping & Tearing Off The Plant
Deer bites are quite prominent because they don’t usually nibble the leaves. They bite large chunks leaving a ripped plant. Plus, there is no specific pattern of deer chewing the plants.
They would rip off leaves from anywhere, while most other insects show some specific pattern of nibbling sunflower leaves. The scattered style of eating is another hint that deers are not letting your sunflower plants thrive.
2. Damaged Leaves With Stems Intact
Deers don’t eat the sunflower stems. They are usually very fond of sunflower leaves.
Hence if you see damaged or eaten sunflower leaves with the stems intact, it’s again a common sign of deers munching in your garden. Also, see if the plants are eaten from top to bottom, which is yet another sign of a deer attack.
3. Hoofprints on the soil
Hoofprints or deer footprints are yet another obvious sign to tell when deers are eating sunflowers. You’ll find distinct deer footprints in the soil, especially if the ground is muddy. If you see such signs, it’s time to take some action and stop deer from eating the plants any further.
4. Eaten Sunflower Buds
Deers also love eating sunflower buds. They would usually tear up the flower buds when they start to grow while leaving the rest of the plant untouched.
5. Deer Scat
Look for black deer dropping near the plantation. Deer black dropping or scat resembles small marbles, and if you find anything similar in your garden, it’s 100% a deer attack.
6. Flattened Nearby Plants
Unlike the tiny insects, deers are large animals, so when they enter your sunflower plantation, they will surely leave some noticeable marks. When they walk around your sunflower plantation, the tiny nearby plants would come under their feet and would get flattened.
How To Stop Deer From Eating Sunflowers?
Now that you have enough evidence of tracing deer attacks on sunflowers, the next question you might have is how to keep deer away from my sunflowers. There are some tried and tested methods that can keep deer’s prying eyes from your sunflowers and let them bloom happily.
Here are the methods I followed, and they worked pretty well in my garden:
1. Use Deer Repellent Sprays
Using deer repellent sprays like Harris Deer Repellent is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep deers away from sunflowers. Deer repellent sprays have an awful smell that deers can’t tolerate; hence they would refrain from coming near the sunflower plantation.
There are plenty of deer repellent sprays available in the market. All have different smells and are made with various ingredients, so you might have to try a couple of items and see which one’s working best in your garden.
You’ll find liquid deer repellent and granule deer repellents. The liquid ones you have to spray around the plant and the powder ones are meant to be sprinkled. These repellent sprays are made from organic materials, so they won’t kill the animal.
2. Build Fence Around The Plantation
Fencing is again another proven method of keeping deers away from eating sunflowers. A solid fence won’t let the deers trespass even if they try jumping above it. Since deers can jump pretty high, try building a fence that’s 8 to 12 feet tall.
You should go for either a mesh fence or a wired fence that is solid enough to bear deer attacks. You can also install an electric fence to prevent deer attacks. Also, keep the fencing very thick, leaving only tiny holes so that they cannot pass through. Here’s a video on how to fence your garden and deer-proof it.
3. Use Motion Detection Sprinkler
Sprinkler motion detectors also work well while keeping deers away from sunflower plantations. How did motion detection sprinklers work? You simply have to install them in your garden, and when deers enter the garden, the sprinkler will release cold water automatically.
I recommend Hoont Deer Repellent, as it has a high-precision sensor and sprays water with a pressure to scare the uninvited guests.
4. Grow Deer Repellent Plants
Grow deer repellent plants in the sunflower garden to prevent them from entering your sunflower plantation. Deers can’t stand very strong smelling plants, so you can try planting- Garlic, herbs, onions, barberry rush, scallions, sagebrush, poppies, fragrant sumac bushes, poppies, zinnias, etc.
5. Electric Post or Noise Creators
Install electric posts and cover them with sunflower leaves. When deers touch the posts, they will get a mild shock. It won’t harm the deers but will scare them away, preventing them from returning to the plantation.
Growing hedges around the sunflower garden is another way to stop deers from eating sunflowers. Hedges are thorny, so deers won’t be able to climb and enter the garden. Additionally, growing hedges will also block their vision.
7. Sprinkle Soap
Sprinkling soap around the plant will again stop deers from eating sunflower plants. Deers don’t like strong smelling soap; hence they won’t come near it. But don’t use soaps that smell like plant coconuts as they will attract the deers more.
What Other Kinds of Animals Eat Sunflowers?
Sunflowers and sunflower seeds are a favorite treat for lots of animals. Apart from deers, there are a lot of other animals that disrupt the growth of your sunflower plants. Here are some of the animals and insects you should try keeping away from the sunflower plantation:
- House rats
- Lady bugs
- Small beetles
- Small butterflies
Effective Homemade Deer Repellent Spray: Steps To Prepare
You can make your homemade natural deer repellent with a few readily available ingredients in your home kitchen. Here are the ingredients and recipe I followed to make my deer repellent that takes just a few minutes and works great to keep sunflowers protected from deer attack.
- 3 Eggs
- 1 gallon of warm water
- 3 tablespoon yogurt or milk
- 3 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- Large spray bottle or garden sprayer
- Blend eggs, three cups of water, yogurt/ milk, cayenne pepper, and garlic into a fine paste. Strain the mixture into a gallon or jar and add the remaining water.
- Let the deer repellent ripen for at least twenty-four hours to get more stinky.
- Spray this in the entire plant, including leaves, stems, and flowers, to keep deers away.
Q1: What Other Flowers Can Deer Eat Besides Sunflowers?
Deers love eating snapdragons, salvia, sweet alyssum, cleome, lantana, daylily, violets, pansies, dahlia, tulips, and a few more.
Q2: Do Deer Eat Sunflowers with Striped Shell?
Yes, deers eat sunflower seeds with striped shells. Deers love munching on the nutty, crunchy striped seeds.
Q3: Can Deer Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, deers can eat sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are, in fact, one of the favorite treats of deers but eating whole sunflower seeds may prove dangerous for them. If eaten in large quantities, hulls may damage deer’s paunch leading to deer’s death.
Q4: What kind of Flowers will Deer not Eat?
Poppies, daffodils, lavender, sages, and foxgloves are some of the flowers deers will not eat. Deers don’t like the intense fragrance of these flowers, so they avoid eating them.
Q5: How To Sprinkle Deer Repellent Spray On Sunflowers?
Put the spray in a garden sprayer or large spray bottle and spray directly on the dry flowers, leaves, and stems.
Now that you are aware of the signs and causes of deers eating sunflowers, it’s time to adopt the preventative measures I shared. Not all preventive methods may work for everyone, so you might have to try a couple of them & see which ones work best for you.
Those who don’t want to use store-bought repellents and are not in favor of using other ways to keep deers away can try making the homemade deer repellent I shared; it works as efficiently as any ready-made ones.
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