“Do deer eat begonias?” usually signifies that gardeners’ begonia plants are being attacked and they are suspecting deer. The question is a bit tricky, as deer only attack some types of begonias and leave others.
To know which begonia you should plant and how to prevent deer from entering your garden, read this article.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- Do Deer Eat Begonias?
- How Can You Confirm That Deer Are Eating Your Begonias?
- How Do You Grow Your Begonias Free from Deer?
- What Are Some Deer-resistant Begonias?
- What Are Some Begonias That Deer Love?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do Deer Eat Begonias?
Deer will mostly eat begonias due to hunger and when there aren’t other desirable plants nearby. You will see fawns eating different types of begonias in your garden. This is because they are still learning which plant to avoid and which they can eat.
As they become mature, they will be more selective and go for the begonias with leaves that are easy to chew and swallow.
How Can You Confirm That Deer Are Eating Your Begonias?
You can confirm that deer are eating your begonias when you see them for yourself or see what they left in your gardens such as their fur, footprints, and poop. You can also investigate the cause of damage to your plants to know which pest is responsible.
– Seeing the Deer
Of course, you have to see something to get the full assurance that it exists. While there are other ways to check if deer can enter your garden or not, the best way to confirm it is to see the deer. Deer mostly visit gardens at night, so you can check your plants at night if you can. Also, you can install a camcorder in your garden so that you do not need to stay away.
Deer may still be in the garden some minutes before dawn, so you should check your garden as soon as you wake up if you do not have a camera to install. Well, there are other ways to tell whether deer are entering your garden or not.
– Seeing Deer Fur, Poop, and Footprints
You do not need to see something before you can start believing that it exists. Even if you do not see the deer in your garden, you can be sure that a deer entered your garden when you see its poop or fingerprints. If you are lucky, you can even see its fur scattered on your plants’ leaves.
Deer poop and footprints are very easy to tell. Deer have double hooves in their footprint and the prints resemble an inverted heart that is split into two. As for the poop, it looks so much bigger (though a bit larger) than the poop of goats, as it is black or brown, clustered, and round.
– Judging From the Bite Marks on the Begonias
Your begonia plants that deer attack will most likely be easy to recognize. Deer and large and strong herbivores, so their danger to plants is usually severe. Deer eat by pulling or chewing the leaves off the plant. They can also pull some petioles and stem while eating.
This means that the begonias that were eaten by deer will have a lot of missing parts. If some eaten leaves are remaining, just a small part of the leaves will still be attached to the plant. Also, you’d see a lot of deer footprints around the begonias.
How Do You Grow Your Begonias Free from Deer?
You can grow your begonias free from interfering deer by building a tall fence, covering the plants with wire cage or wire mesh, using repellents, scaring the deer away, and carefully planning the exact spot where you will grow a plant in your garden.
– Build a Garden Fence
The first thing that you can do when your garden plants are suffering from the attack of a large pest such as deer is to build a fence. A fence is very effective against deer so long as you build it in the right spot.
While you can cover the entire garden with the fence, you should start with the parts of the garden through which deer enter the garden. If you cannot build a fence, cover your little begonias with a wire cage or wire mesh so that deer can no longer eat their leaves.
You can also cover them with a tarp, but remember to remove the covering in the morning so that they can get enough sunlight and ventilation.
– Make and Use Deer Repellents
Deer repellents are products that you can keep in your garden to prevent deer from entering the garden. Even if deer enter the garden, they will not eat plants near the repellents. These products can easily get washed off, so you should remember to use them often.
Some repellents that you can make and use are:
- Garlic water: You can spray a mixture of garlic and water on your plants to make them distasteful for the deer.
- Hot sauce or pepper: If you hate very spicy and hot foods, so do deer. Spray anything hot on your begonia leaves to prevent deer from eating them.
- Rotten eggs: Deer hate the smell of rotten eggs, so spray some eggs in your garden before you sleep so that deer do not go close to the plants at night.
– Scare the Deer Away
When you see deer eating begonias in your garden, scare them away and never let them stay there for an extra second. Do not look at them with pity, scare them away immediately. Deer don’t like going to places where they are always driven from, so in time, they will learn to avoid plants in your garden.
When scaring the deer away, take note of the route through which they leave the garden. That is most likely the route that they passed through to enter your garden. You should block this route and other similar ones so that deer can no longer enter your garden.
– Do Not Grow Your Begonias Near Plants That Attract Deer
To keep your begonias safe, do not plant them near plants that deer love to eat. These are some plants that can attract deer into your garden:
- Sweet alyssum
- Black-eyed Susan
- Fruit-producing plants
Even if you want to grow these plants, do not grow them near your garden edges, as they will bring deer into the garden. Grow them in the middle of the garden and grow plants that deer hate in the edges. Also, you should prioritize these plants when looking for ways to prevent deer from entering your garden.
– Grow Deer-resistant Plants
You want to prevent deer from entering your garden by growing plants that deer do not like. These deer resistant flowers and spices will keep deer from your garden, but ensure that deer do not have easy access to the garden.
Examples of these deer-resistant plants are:
- Garlic: Garlic plants repel a lot of pests, so you want to plant them between your begonia plants.
- Rosemary: Rosemary plants have a sweet scent that deer do not like (fortunately). You can use them to repel deer from your garden.
- Thyme: Plant thyme near your garden fence, as deer do not like the smell.
- Elephant ears: These plants have leathery leaves. Deer usually do not eat their leaves.
– Grow Deer-resistant Begonia Plants
A useful tip for you is that when selecting the begonia plant you should grow begonias that can resist or repel deer. Some begonia varieties (which we will discuss later) are undesirable for deer, so you can grow these near your garden edges so that deer will no longer find plants that can attract them into your garden.
Note that no begonia plant is deer proof. This means that deer can occasionally eat the leaves. However, deer tend to eat some begonias more than others. Begonias that are very colorful and fuzzy are usually deer-resistant.
What Are Some Deer-resistant Begonias?
Some deer-resistant begonias that deer hate to eat are those with fuzzy stems and leaves or leathery leaves. They are not desirable to deer, so deer avoid them almost completely. Some examples of these plants that deer do not like are the silver jewel begonia and fireworks begonia.
– Silver Jewel Begonia
This beautiful begonia with cordate (heart-shaped) leaves is not a target of deer in your garden. It has round leaves that can be green with silver dashes.
- Size: It grows up to a foot tall and spreads up to 12 inches.
- Hardiness: Grow the silver jewel at USDA zones 10 to 11.
- Light exposure: Ensure that the plant gets partial shade. This means around 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
- Blooming season: It is a beautiful plant that blooms in the winter.
- Soil requirements: The soil of this begonia should be well-drained, constantly humid, and rich in nutrients. A loam with a pH ranging from neutral to mildly acidic is ideal for the plant.
– Iron Cross Begonia
Here is a begonia that deer do not want to go close to at all. Its light green foliage is covered in fuzzy hairs. The leaves have a dark brown or almost black cross on them, and they are as beautiful as flowers in other plants.
- Size: This begonia can grow up to 1 foot in height and 12 inches in spread.
- Hardiness: Begonias of the variety grow best in the warm regions of USDA zones 11 to 12.
- Light exposure: Grow this plant in partial shade. It does not need direct sunlight.
- Blooming season: Like many other begonias, the blooming season of this plant is in winter.
- Soil requirements: The soil should be well-drained and rich in nutrients. It can be loam, sand, or chalk and should have a pH of around 7.
– Fireworks Begonia
Are you a fan of pink? Here is a pink plant for you. The beautiful leaves of this begonia are pink and have dark patterns that look like lightning on their surface. Deer do not like this begonia, perhaps because of the color of its flowers.
- Size: This beautiful begonia can grow 1 – 2 feet tall and have a width of 12 – 24 inches.
- Hardiness: Plants of this variety grow best in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11.
- Light exposure: While this beautiful plant grows best in partial shade, it can also grow in full shade.
- Blooming season: It produces flowers in the cold winter months.
- Soil requirements: Like other plants, its soil should be loamy, chalky, or sandy soil and well-drained. It should be rich in organic nutrients and consistently moist. It should also have a neutral pH.
– Hanging Basket Begonia
As the name suggests, this is a begonia that you can plant in hanging baskets. Deer choose not to eat the leaves of this plant because they are tall, mostly close to your home, and can make them uncomfortable when eating the leaves. It also produces beautiful drooping flowers.
- Size: The hanging plant can grow up to a foot tall and spread 2 feet wide.
- Hardiness: You can grow this begonia plant in USDA zones 9 to 11.
- Light exposure: Like other plants, ensure that the trailing plant grows in partial shade.
- Blooming season: The beautiful plant blooms from late spring to late fall. This means that you can enjoy its bloom for a long time.
- Soil requirements: You should use an ideal potting mix in the hanging basket. Just make sure that it is loose so that the roots can’t get enough oxygen.
– Picotee Lace Begonia
Here is another begonia with very fuzzy leaves. This plant is prized because of its flowers which can be white, crimson red, tangerine, or a combination of two or more colors. You can plant it and not worry about deer.
- Size: It can grow to reach a height of 1 – 2 feet. It can also spread 12 – 14 inches wide.
- Hardiness: This beautiful begonia can grow in USDA zones 10 to 11.
- Light exposure: Grow the plant in partial shade. However, it can also grow in full sun.
- Blooming season: You can enjoy the bloom of this flower in the summer and fall months.
- Soil requirements: The substrate should be consistently moist. It should also be nutrient-rich. However, ensure that it drains water quickly so that the plants do not suffocate.
– Sun Changing Begonia
This could be one of the most beautiful plants in your garden. The fuzzy leaves which are heart-shaped are undesirable to deer, so you can plant this variety of begonia in your garden. The leaves are dark green and have lime-green stripes. They also have purple undersides.
- Size: It grows a foot tall and 2 feet wide. However, it can grow quite taller and wider if its growing conditions are met.
- Hardiness: The sun-changing begonia plant grows best at USDA zones 10 to 11.
- Light exposure: Ensure that your begonia plant gets at least five hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Blooming season: This beautiful begonia grows its flowers in the winter months.
- Soil requirements: This plant is not picky, as it can grow in clay, sand, or loam. Just make sure that you do not overwater it. Also, feed it regularly, especially when the soil is sandy.
– Ruffled Begonia
Here is another begonia with fuzzy leaves that deer hate to see. The flowers of this begonia are very large, as they can grow up to 9 inches across. You can grow these plants in your garden, knowing fully well that their chance of getting attacked by deer is slim.
- Size: This beautiful plant can grow up to 1 – 2 feet tall and spread up to 12 – 24 inches wide.
- Hardiness: USDA zones 9 to 11 are ideal for this begonia.
- Light exposure: The plant needs a spot with partial shade.
- Blooming season: It blooms from summer until the first frost.
- Soil requirements: You can grow it in any type of soil. Just ensure that you feed and water it regularly. Also, ensure that the soil drains water quickly to prevent suffocation of the roots.
What Are Some Begonias That Deer Love?
Some begonias that deer love to eat are:
- Wax Begonias
- Tuberous Begonias
- Rex Begonias
- Dragon Wing Begonias
- Hardy Begonia
These begonias are very beautiful and you should definitely plant them in your garden. To prevent deer from eating them, use the deer-prevention tips listed earlier in this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will Begonias Survive a Deer Attack?
Even though your begonias are very delicate and beautiful, they will survive a deer attack so long as the damage is not too severe. However, you can help them to recover quickly by pruning off their damaged parts so that they can stop sending nutrients and energy to those areas.
Also, you want to make sure that the plants are growing in the right conditions. Take their light exposure, temperature needs, water, and nutrient requirements into consideration. However, if you see that they are not recovering, you can remove them from the garden. Remove the unresponsive ones so that they do not waste the nutrients in the soil.
2. Why Are Some Begonias Deer-resistant and Others Aren’t?
Some begonias are deer-resistant while others are because of two major reasons – leaf texture and appearance. Both are going to work in your favor if you wish to repel deer.
- Leaf texture: The hairs can make deer and other mammalian pests very uncomfortable.
- Appearance: Plants that are too colorful may be toxic.
Now you can easily grow begonia plants without the fear of deer, right?
Here are some quick reminders for you:
- Deer can eat or ignore a begonia depending on the variety of the begonia.
- Begonias with smooth leaves are desirable to deer while those with fuzzy hairs usually repel deer from the garden.
- You should build a garden fence, grow deer-resistant begonias, scare the deer away, or do whatever you can to prevent deer from entering your garden.
- Some begonias that you can grow if you want a deer-free garden are iron cross begonia, sun-changing begonia, ruffled begonia, etc.
- Other pests that you should watch out for in the garden are snails, rabbits, fungus gnats, etc.
Awesome reminders and tips, right? Now go protect the begonias in your garden from deer.
- Sarah Rautio. (May 21, 2020). Smart gardening with deer: Deer-resistant summer bulbs, rhizomes, tubers and corms. Michigan State University Extension.
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