Are Ferns Deer Resistant And How Do You Protect Them?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 05/28/22 •  6 min read

Are Ferns Deer Resistant And How Do You Protect Them? Ferns are one of the most popular plants to grow in your garden to create that lush tropical feel however one of the most common questions for those people that live in an area where there is a large deer population are ferns deer resistant?

Ferns are not deer resistant but they’re also not the deer’s favourite food with the New Jersey Agricultural Experimentation Station rating them as rarely damaged. This means that the foliage will be eaten from time to time depending upon the volume of deer that live in your local area and also the other food that is on offer for them to eat at the time.

However, if you want to avoid ferns from being eaten at all it is important to position them close to your house in the inner part of your property as your mere presence will discourage the deer from hanging around too much. Additionally, it is a good idea to select plants to place in the outer parts of your garden that deer do not like to discourage the deer from entering your property.

Deer are generally deterred by plants that are either toxic, fragrant, or generally thorny or prickly.  However, this is just a general guide as things like roses do have thorns, however, it is well known that deer to eat them regularly. The plants that generally deer do not like other things like rosemary and lavender which also have the added benefit of being relatively tall.

This is beneficial because it prevents the deer from peering into the garden to see something else that is a little bit more attractive. However, this method will not completely deter deer from entering your property.

How To Stop Deer From Damaging Your Garden

Deer are an extremely persistent pest that will eat your garden plants at various stages through the year and the only treatment that is 100% foolproof is to exclude the deer from your garden in entirely.

To exclude the deer from your garden you need to erect a fence that is 8 ft tall which may seem excessive however deer are well known able to jump over a 6ft fence. However, for most people erecting a large fence around the property is far from ideal and also extremely expensive, so what are the other options that are available?

There is a range of repellents on the market which vary in effectiveness depending upon the nature of the product. The repellents can generally be divided into 2 major groups which are mechanical and chemical repellents. Of these two groups, the more effective devices are the chemical repellents.

Chemical Deer Repellent

Again, there is a wide range of chemical deer repellents available on the market which vary in their level of effectiveness depending upon the specific formulation. Chemical deer repellents can generally be divided up into three categories which are fear-inducing, pain-inducing and general deer repellents that alter the smell or flavour of the plant. Academic research that has been conducted suggests that the most effective type of repellent are the fear-inducing repellents. However, even those formulations that have been demonstrated to be effective have their limitations. 

The research conducted on these products suggests that even the most effective deer repellents will only keep deer away from plants for a period of approximately 10 to 12 weeks. After this period of time, it is common to see deer returning to their normal feeding habits as they become familiar with the scent. 

As a result of this we generally recommend that if you are going to purchase deer repellents that you pick more than one product which will allow you to alternate between the products every 3 months or so which will reduce the chances of the product becoming ineffective.

The products that we recommend deer out and plantskydd because they are both fear-inducing deer repellents that are based on different formulations which means they have a different scent.

Mechanical Deer Repellents

Like the chemical deer repellents, they are also a wide range of mechanical devices that are recommended to protect your garden from deer. These products can also be divided up into three major categories which are motion-activated sprinkler systems, ultrasonic devices, and predator eyes.

The most effective of these three types of mechanical deer repellents is the motion-activated sprinkler systems, however, like the chemical repellents, they are only effective for short period of time as the deer can quickly become acclimatised to their presence.

As such we generally recommend that these devices only be purchased as part of your deer defence and should be used sparingly at critical times of the year when there is specific things going on in the garden that are important. To make the most of these devices it is important to move them around the garden regularly to ensure that the deer does not get to accustomed to their position and turn them on or off to create a greater surprise factor.

If you are considering purchasing a device of this nature we would recommend the Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer because it has a 40ft detection range with a wide angle which ensures that are single unit will cover a large area. To see the latest price click on the link above to visit amazon.

The second type of device that is often sold is the ultrasonic devices. Manufacturers claim that these devices are effective against a range of animals including deer, rodents, squirrels, and domestic animals.  However, there has been a large amount of academic research done on the effectiveness of these types of devices and every study that I have read suggests that these devices do not work at all despite what the manufacturer says. As such we do not recommend that you purchase these devices.

The final category of devices that are sold commonly is predator eyes which are devices that are designed to mimic predator eyes at night. There is very little academic research on these types of devices and as a result, I have had to rely upon the reviews and feedback provided by customers that have purchased these types of devices.

The overwhelming response to these devices has been a degree of disappointment with many people finding that the devices have not been effective against deer in their garden. Some users have even published videos showing deer eating their plants at night right next to the predator eyes device. As such we do not recommend that you purchase a device of this nature.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success growing ferns in your garden, if you have any additional comments or questions please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart