If you are a beginning gardener or someone looking to plant rose bushes for the first time, you're likely doing all you can to gather the information you need to give your plants the best chance for success. One of the most important things you need to know, particularly if you live in an area where deer are common, is, do deer eat roses? We've done some digging (pardon the pun) to help prepare you for rose planting success.
Deer can eat roses and often do. They are not dissuaded by the thorns and have been known to eat virtually every part of the plant. If you are interested in growing roses, you need to make sure that you protect them from deer and other animals.
Now that you know that deer eat roses, we invite you to keep reading to find out what you can do to protect your roses from deer (and other animals). Take a few moments to learn more about overcoming deer and other threats to your rose bushes.
Deer Love to Eat Roses
Deer are herbivores. This means they eat plants. They are also opportunistic feeders who will gladly eat whatever is readily available. They can eat a wide variety of plants, nuts, twigs, and more. Because their stomachs are so tough, one of the things that they can eat and digest without issue is roses.
Rose bushes have thorns that are meant to act as a natural defense. However, deer have no problem eating roses despite these thorns. While you may think that only the younger rose bushes with less established thorns might be at risk, that's not true. Deer are able to eat even the most mature rose bushes with tough thorns because their stomachs can digest so many different things. Therefore, there is no fundamental reason for deer not to eat roses. This means that if you leave your rose bushes unprotected, and deer are in the area, your roses are potentially at risk. You'll need to take proactive steps to ensure that your roses do not become a deer's next meal.
How Do I Keep Deer From Eating My Roses?
What can you do to prevent deer from eating your roses? There are some pretty straightforward, simple steps you can take to protect your roses from being eaten.
The first step is to treat your roses with deer repellant. This comes in several forms and types. You can spray deer repellant on your roses, or you can apply granules to them. You can find many of these products online or in stores. One such product is Deer Out 40 oz Ready-to-Use Deer Repellant.
You can use homemade repellants, too. No matter which type you choose, you'll need to reapply these relatively frequently. Because repellants are applied to the bushes, they can be rinsed off in a heavy rain -- especially if it rains shortly after you apply the repellant. Regardless of the weather, these products must be reapplied with relative frequency. They will not be effective otherwise.
Limiting access to your rose bushes is another method you can utilize to protect them. Fencing is one of the more proven methods of keeping deer away from rose bushes. You may try a traditional fence like chain link or wood, or you may decide you would like to use wire fencing. Some people have been able to protect their plants by using electric fences that give mild shocks to the animals.
Issues With Fencing
There are few drawbacks to fences, however. First and foremost, if your fence is not high enough, deer will still be able to get to your plants. They are agile creatures with the ability to jump quite high. If they are hungry enough, they will find a way over your fence if it isn't tall enough to stop them. The great height required for a fence is another drawback. Planting roses is meant to beautify an area, and you no doubt want to show off your hard work. Tall fencing can certainly keep deer away from your roses, but it can also prevent people from being able to see them. Finally, electric fencing has its limitations. Some people are uncomfortable with the concept of shocking animals, even if it is mild. The other issue is that much like your dog may decide a shock is worth it to escape your yard, a deer may determine that a small jolt isn't enough to keep it from its next meal. If the deer are willing to risk shock or become conditioned to it, you've essentially wasted the money you spent on your electric fence.
A Natural Solution
The other thing you can try is to protect your roses by surrounding them with plants deer do not like. These plants can act as a natural barrier and a deterrent to the deer. They may never make it to your roses because they are unwilling to work their way to them. But, like the electric fence, they may decide that it is worth mild discomfort to get to the food that they want.
What Other Animals Eat Roses (And How To Keep Them At Bay)?
Protecting your roses from deer is not your only concern, though. After all, other animals eat roses. The first step to protecting your plants is to know what creatures want to eat them so that you can understand how best to stop them.
Unfortunately, there are several animals besides deer that eat roses. Multiple insects eat them, and the plant's thorns do nothing to prevent these small creatures from getting to their petals. As with deer, repellant is an effective way to prevent bugs from harming your roses. Bio Advanced 708262A All-in-One Rose & Flower Spray Systemic Insecticide, Fungicide, Miticide, Concentrate 64-Ounce is one such repellant.
Certain types of birds also eat roses. Though there aren't many that do, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent them from getting to your plants. Fencing obviously won't work, and though you might think about putting netting over the roses, such a step won't be very appealing visually. You may try a fake owl or some other similar type of deterrent.
Mice, rabbits, and squirrels also eat roses. Preventing them from eating your plants can be nearly as challenging as stopping birds. Mice and squirrels can climb fences or squeeze their way through them; rabbits can also squeeze through small openings. All three can dig into your garden, too. Trapping the creatures is one way you can attempt to protect your roses, though this can be difficult. There are multiple types of traps available, including deadly traps and humane ones. One such humane option is the REX-TRAP Mouse Trap.
And, as mentioned earlier, netting is a possibility. It can be used to protect your plants from all of the creatures (except insects) that we've mentioned, including deer. One such option is Gardeneer By Dalen DX-7 Deer-X Protective Netting.
Now that you know a little bit more about deer (and other animals that eat roses), you'll ideally be adequately prepared to protect your plants. Finding the solution that not only protects your plants but also preserves their aesthetic value is essential. It may take some fine-tuning and trial and error but stick with it. Roses are a great addition to any garden, and they're well-known and beloved around the world.
For more information about roses, including when they bloom and whether they have seeds, please check out some of our other blogs. These should serve as a great resource as you begin planting and growing your rose bushes.