Deer will occasionally nibble on hibiscus plants.

Do Deer Eat Hibiscus?

by Michelle Wishhart

Deer can look charming in the garden, but that charm is quickly diminished after the animals have made a meal out of your flower bed. While hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.) shrubs are not generally favored by deer, hungry deer are capable of eating just about any plant they come across. It may be necessary to implement control methods to keep your hibiscus free of nibbling deer.

1. Landscaping

Changes in landscaping may help deter deer. Consider cultivating plants that deer dislike as a barrier to preferred plants. Deer dislike thorny, hairy or poisonous plants, as well as highly aromatic or pungent-tasting plants such as herbs. Move deer-prone plants closer to the house and protect them behind a fence. A fence must be at least 6 feet tall and staked to the ground or partially buried to be effective. Your fence should have a gate in case a deer does end up inside.

2. Repellent

One of the most effective deer repellents is also one of the easiest to make. Simply mix 20 percent egg with 80 percent water, pour into a spray bottle and spray the hibiscus plant thoroughly. It may be helpful to remove the white membrane attached to the yolk before mixing the eggs to prevent clogging. This egg mixture will remain on the shrub despite inclement weather, but it must be applied to the shrub monthly, according to the Colorado State University Extension.

3. Considerations

Deer can be challenging to deter, especially if they are starving or under stress. The problem may be worse in the spring, as deer love succulent, tender new growth and may feed on plants that they would normally avoid. Frightening deer with strobe lights or dogs generally does not solve the problem for very long. Despite difficulties, the Morton Arboretum warns that deer should be discouraged from feeding as as soon as they appear, lest they develop a habit of foraging in your garden.

4. Culture

Hibiscus hardiness varies depending on species. The popular Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis) is suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 11, where it prefers full sunlight or partial shade and well-draining, moist soil. Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), which grows in USDA zones 5B to 9A, may be more susceptible to deer damage than other hibiscus species, as the North Carolina Cooperative Extensions lists the plant as being "occasionally browsed" by deer.

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