Are Crepe Myrtles Deer Resistant?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 02/05/22 •  8 min read

Are Crepe Myrtles Deer Resistant? Crepe myrtles are a popular tree that is grown widely in gardens around the world it is known for its beautiful flowers and foliage that appears in spring. It is a moderate-sized tree that can be used in pretty much any garden successfully if you live in zone 7 to 10. However, will the crepe myrtle survive in an area that has a large deer population?

Crepe Myrtles are considered to be relatively deer resistant according to the New Jersey Agricultural Experimentation Station which rated the plant has been seldom damaged. This rating means that while the plant is not the deers favorite food it is, nonetheless, a plant that they will feed on periodically when there is not much food around or the deer population is particularly large.

As a result of this, we recommend that you still provide some protection to the plant particularly when it’s young to ensure that it does survive. When first planted it is a good idea to fence the plant in to prevent the deer from stripping the bark of a plant and damaging it.

This can be done by hammering in 3 to 4 steaks around the plant to create a boundary that has a radius of approximately 2 feet to ensure that dear cannot stick their nose through the wire and get to the plant. Wire fencing can then be attached to the stakes encircling the plant to prevent the deer from having access.

Other Ways To Stop Deer From Eating Your Crepe Myrtle

Apart from fencing get the individual plant which is by far the most effective method of ensuring its survival the other effective methods are to use commercial deer repellent.

Deer repellents can be divided up into two major groups which are chemical repellents and mechanical repellents. Based on what I have read in academic research chemical repellents are generally more effective than mechanical repellents.

Chemical Repellent 

The chemical repellents can be further categorized into three different types which are fear-inducing repellents, pain-inducing repellents, and those repellents that used taste or smell to generally ward the deer away. 

Of these varieties, the most effective products are those that are fear-inducing according to a range of academic research that has been completed. The fear-inducing repellents are typically based on things like coyote urine, blood, and putrified egg. Putrified egg is used because it has a smell that mimics those smells that are sometimes produced by common predators of the deer.

However, even the most effective products in this class are only effective for approximately 10 to 12 weeks according to the academic studies which indicate that even if the product is reapplied according to the manufacturer’s instructions deers will begin to feed again after this period. The reason for this is that the animals become accustomed to the smell and then progressively begin to ignore it over time. To read more about this click here.

As a result of this effect we generally recommend that if you’re going to apply chemical repellent that you purchase at least two of the products to ensure that you can alternate them every 3 months or so to maximize the protection.

The two products that we recommend deer out and plantskydd which are both fear-inducing that are based on different ingredients. This ensures that they will smell different which reduces the chance of the animals becoming accustomed to them over time. To purchase them click on the links to visit Amazon. 

Mechanical Deer Repellents

There are many different types of deer repellents available on the market which can be categorized into motion-activated sprinkler systems, ultrasonic systems, and predator’s eyes which mimic the appearance of predator eyes at night.

Of these three systems, the most effective appears to be the motion-activated sprinkler systems which have had some academic research conducted on them. This research suggests that these systems are not ideal for long-term protection and can really only be used in combination with other repellents as a surprise tactic.

To get the most out of these devices it is important to regularly move their position within the garden and also periodically turn them on and off to ensure that the animals do not become accustomed to their presence. As such we generally recommend that they are used at the periods of the year that are most critical to the garden such as when plants are in flower or budding and when there is also ripe fruit available for eating.

Of the systems that are available the one we would recommend is Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer because it has a 40 ft detection range and 120 degrees view which means that a large area can protect it by a single sprinkler. To see the latest price on Amazon click on the link.

The second variety of mechanical repellent is the ultrasonic systems which have had substantial amounts of research conducted on them by many different researchers. The results indicate that these devices are not effective at all despite what many manufacturers may state. Independent researchers have found that they have no effect on a number of different animals including rodents, deer, and squirrels along with domestic cats and dogs. As such we would not recommend that you purchase a device of this nature.

The third type of device which is commonly available is the predator eyes which have had very little independent research carried out upon them as such our recommendations have relied heavily upon first-hand experience of the uses of the product. The reviews of many of these products suggest that the performance is not particularly good with the majority of people being disappointed with the results that have been achieved.

This is backed up by some footage that has been posted on some of these forums showing deer eating the plants right next to where the Predator eyes are located which suggests that they are not particularly effective.

Planting Crepe Myrtles 

Crepe myrtles are moderately sized trees that are ideally planted in early to mid-spring when the weather is starting to warm up. This is the ideal time as the plants have an opportunity to establish their roots in the first season before the winter arrives. 

They are ideally suited for zone 7 to 9 and prefer a warm sunny location that has rich moist and free-draining soil that is acidic. A ph range of approximately 6 is recommended to ensure that the plant performs at it’s best. To read more about the effect of pH of soil nutrition click here.

When putting the plant into the ground start by digging a hole that is approximately a foot wider than the pot the tree came in and approximately a foot deeper. Once the hole is dug it is advisable to add a bag of compost and mix it in with the surrounding soil before placing the tree in position. 

The root ball should be positioned at a height that is approximately equal to the level that the tree was previously in the soil. When backfilling the hole with soil ensure that you firm the soil into the ground with your heel to reduce the chances of there being any air pockets.

Once the tree is in position, it is important to stake it if the conditions in your area are windy to reduce the chances of damage. Additionally, it is advisable to mulch around the base of the tree thoroughly with a layer that is approximately 2 to 4 inches thick and then water the plant in well.

During the first season that the tree is planted, it will need to be watered regularly to ensure that it does not dry out as the root system is yet to be fully established. However, after this first season, the plant will be generally more tolerant of dry conditions reducing the need for watering on a regular basis.

In most cases the tree will not flower in the first season this usually occurs for the first time in the second season. The tree is generally easy to look after and requires little maintenance however it can suffer from diseases such as powdery mildew which can be overcome with sprays that are commercially available though there is evidence that milk performs quite well as a spray to get rid of the disease or at least prevent it.

I hope you found this blog useful and have great success with your Crepe Myrtle. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the section below

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Paul Smart