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Protecting plants from deer

By Staff
Jan. 28, 2001
Dear Gardener,
I live in an area where deer are abundant. They have no qualms about coming into my yard and eating my plants. I have tried all the folk remedies and even a few commercial products. Nothing is working. So, I have decided to start planting things that deer do not like to eat. What are some of my choices?
Dear Reader,
Deer can indeed be a nuisance. Once they get a taste of your delicacies it can be hard to deter them. Definitely avoid planting hostas, crabapple trees, roses, azaleas, cotoneasters, maples, hydrangeas, privet, clematis, and redbuds. Deer love them.
Some shrubs they do not find as appetizing include boxwood, barberry, nandina, holly, abelia, yucca, forsythia, and beautybush. Good perennials and annuals are astilbe, columbine, foxglove, iris, yarrow, verbena, black-eyed susans, and zinnias.
Dear Gardener,
I have an oak in my back yard that seems to be infested with mistletoe. How dangerous is this to the health of my tree?
Dear Reader,
Mistletoe, which ironically is a symbol of peace and love, is actually a semi-parasitic plant. It does use its leaves to produce food. But, it also steals water and minerals from its host tree via roots that bore into the branches and stems.
While light infestations are pretty harmless, a tree heavy laden with mistletoe can be severely weakened and robbed of nutrition. This could eventually lead to the tree's death.
The best control for mistletoe is to prune out the infested portion of the tree. To insure that you get all the roots, cut back about one-foot behind the infected portion.
Note: Do be aware that the berries are poisonous. So, keep them away from children and pets.
Dear Gardener,
My husband gave me a Kalanchoe plant last year on Valentine's Day. It bloomed for a very long time on the windowsill of my kitchen window. It has a sentimental value and I hate to get rid of it. But, it is looking really leggy and scraggly with no sight of any blooms. Will it bloom again or should I just toss it?
Dear Reader,
Kalanchoes are a wonderful spark of color in the wintertime. They can be forced into blooming again, but it takes a lot of effort. They, like many other winter blooming indoor plants, are light sensitive. They need at least fifteen hours of darkness a day for at least eight weeks to produce flower buds. This means total darkness. Any amount of light, however miniscule can inhibit bud production. However, if you are thinking you could just put it in the closet or the basement, you would be wrong. They also need bright sunlight during the day. So if you forget to uncover it or bring it out, your flower production will suffer.
I suggest tossing it and hinting to your husband to get you another one this Valentine's Day. Maybe it could be the start of a tradition.
If you do decide to try to make your plant bloom again, the easiest way is to line a box with black plastic. Cover your plant at 5 p.m. and uncover the next morning at 8 a.m. Then cross your fingers and pray HARD.
Amelia O'Brian, a native of Meridian, holds a bachelor of science degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University. To submit questions, write From the Potting Bench, c/o The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, MS 39302. Or, visit her Web site at