Deer Damage

Protect Your Landscape

White-tailed deer sightings in Martin County are common this time of year, especially after dark. When a deer sighting includes a herd using your landscape as a buffet, you need solutions.

The population of deer in Florida is in decline. And even though we love to see them run free and live their own version of the “Florida-lifestyle” it’s discouraging when deer damage our landscape.

Image credit: Tyler Mosteller (UF/IFAS Extension)

Fences and natural barriers are not always dependable options to prevent deer from nibbling on your flowers, bushes, trees, and ornamentals, but there are deer resistant and poisonous plants that encourage the herd to seek an alternative buffet. 

Plants that are Highly Fragrant

Deer rely on smell to avoid predators. If highly fragrant flowers and plants are consumed, these plants then play havoc with the deer’s sense of smell. Deer want to smell their predators, so they avoid confusing their sense of smell by avoiding landscapes with highly fragrant plants. 

Plants that are Deer Resistant

Deer can be picky eaters. They prefer sweet smelling flowers and sweet tasting plants like fruits, berries, nuts, corn and crops. Their ‘browse line’ is 5″ inches from the ground, so flowers are easy pickin’s! However, they aren’t fond of these:

Bearded Iris, Bear’s Breeches, Butterfly Weed, Caryopteris, Chrysanthemum, Crocosmia, Dianthus, Epimedium, Goldenrod, Hens and Chicks, Joe Pyx Weed, Lavender, Marigolds, Mint, Ornamental Salvias, Peonies, Red-Hot Poker, Rosemary, Russian Sage, Spices like oregano, thyme, sage, & rosemary

Plants that are Poisonous to Deer 

Deer instinctively avoid these plants, so adding them as a deterrent should not harm the deer population.

Crown of Thorns, Daffodils, Foxglove, Milkweed, Oleander, Poinsettia, Poppy

Fun Facts About White-tailed Deer

  • Dinner time for deer is dawn and dusk; if you drive during those hours, be on the lookout.
  • Have you ever noticed how quickly a deer will sense your presence? Deer have amazing eyesight and hearing.
  • Only male deer grow antlers, and these are shed every year. 
  • Deer are good swimmers, so installing a moat around your landscape won’t keep them out.
  • The average adult male weighs in at around 115 lbs; the smaller female around 90 lbs.
  • If your tree trunk has deer marks, it’s the male deer rubbing off the early-season velvety covering. Manly deer want shiny, smooth antlers.
  • Deer habitats are primarily those with low-growing vegetation —and escape routes.
  • In 2018 a 23-point buck was placed into the evidence freezer at the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. Read why.

For additional information on deer resistant plants in Florida, visit UF/IFAS Gardening with Wildlife. If deer are causing extreme damage to your landscape, contact FWC regional office in West Palm Beach to request a deer depredation permit. (561) 625-5122. To report a potential wildlife law violation on private land (hunting by gun or bow-and-arrow) call (888) 404-3922.