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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Click here

Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Saturday, June 24, 2006
“Coping with Deer in the Drought”

 The rain last weekend and this week saved us from drought restrictions in most of San Antonio, at least for a few days, but it has not saved those of us blessed with deer from extra damage from the hungry pests.  As the drought proceeds there are less of their favorite foods to eat and they eat almost anything that is green.  Here are some emergency strategies to consider. 


·      Products like Liquid Fence seem to work, at least in the short-term, if you are conscientious in their use.  Spray all newly placed plants generously.  Even deer-resistant plants like lantanas attract the attention of deer when they are first planted.  It could be that they are well-watered and growing so fast at the nursery that the oils and aromatic chemicals that normally make them undesirable as deer food, are diluted.  Another theory is that the deer are just ornery and will taste anything new.


·      It seems unbelievable, but my neighbors have confirmed again that the use of a single strand of monofilament line strung at deer shoulder height stops the deer.  Use 20 pound or heavier strung around a garden area.  It is amazing to see them back away from such an insignificant barrier.


·      Almost all shade trees are desirable deer browse.  Newly planted trees also are favorite rubbing posts for bucks removing their velvet.  The damage can be very severe.  To protect newly planted trees “build” a barrier of hog wire at least five feet tall in a circle at least six feet around the tree.  The deer will stand on their hind feet to reach the leaves and stems thus the need for height and space.  Reinforce the wire with four posts or cross-bracing.  Deer will bend or collapse less sturdy barriers.


·      In addition to newly planted deer-resistant plants, deer will often eat at supposedly deer-resistant plants that are irrigated.  In my neighborhood, such plants as dwarf ruellia, pittosporum, nandina, and shrimp plant fall in this category.  They usually survive, but in droughty times they can be stripped pretty thoroughly.  If survival from deer is your goal, keep them on the dry side and consider Liquid Fence or pepper spray to protect them during the worst droughts.


·      Liquid Fence and other similar products can be effective for short-term deer protection, but they are expensive.  You can make yourself a deer-proofing spray at home with hot peppers.  Here is the recipe. (1)  Purchase a sack of inexpensive dried hot peppers at your favorite market.  Habaneros work very well.  Home harvested chili petines may also work.  (2)  Place them in a five gallon plastic bucket ¾ full of water.  (3) Set the bucket in the sun to “stew” for a week or more.  (4)  When it is ripe, the smellier, the better, dilute it by one-half and spray it on the foliage to be protected.  (5)  Spray twice per week and immediately after it rains for best protection.  (6) Some pepper spray cooks add a few tablespoons of Liquid Fence and a tablespoon of liquid dish soap to the spray to increase its effectiveness.  (7)  Let the remaining pepper concentrate continue to stew until you need it. 


·      There is still a significant list of plants that are passed up by deer in most neighborhoods despite the pressure of the drought.  There are many viburnums offered by area nurseries that make good landscape plants for sun or shade.  Texas mountain laurel and Texas sage are evergreen native plants that have high landscape value in full sun and escape deer browsing.  Dwarf Chinese holly has enough thorns on the leaf to discourage deer from browsing.  The deer also seem to pass up both dwarf and standard yaupon hollies.  Deer eat the blooms of red yucca, but not the foliage.  They also do not seem to eat other yuccas or palms.  Primrose jasmine is a popular plant in neighborhoods with deer.  It makes a dark-green evergreen mounding plant, ten feet across and eight feet tall.  In late winter it has showy, yellow blooms.  Cat’s claw (also called yellow trumpet vine) also has showy yellow flowers.  They are as large as silver dollars and waxy.  Beware, however, that the vine will cover utility lines, fences, and even trees.  For more yellow flowers in the summer, use esperanza in full sun.  Vincas, iris, society garlic, and zinnias escape deer predation in most neighborhoods, including mine.