Deer Repellent Elixirs for Your Plants
by ROBIN SNYDER Tumalo Garden Market
Why are certain ingredients effective?
Research at the USDA/National Wildlife Research Center in Olympia, Washington, has shown that:
• Repellents that emit sulfur odors, like that found in egg products or bloodmeal, provide the best control;
• Repellents applied to leaf surfaces are more effective than those (such as capsules or reservoirs) that release an odor intended to create a perimeter;
• Repellents that cause plants to taste bitter are the least effective.
Hot tap water dissolves the oil ingredients and create a solution to spray. Dissolving ingredients into hot water and leaving them sit for two days will make a potent solution that you will be able to spray directly on plants to keep deer away. Start off with 2 cups of hot water in a clean bowl with a spout and lid.
Eggs make a great addition to a deer-repellent spray for two reasons. First, the egg-white proteins will dry on the leaves of the plants on which the liquid is sprayed, helping the ingredients to stick to the plant and keep deterring deer for up to 60 days. Second, the egg yolks contain sulfur compounds that begin to break down over time, giving the liquid a strong sulfur odor. The odor is offensive to deer and will not harm the plants to which it is applied. While the familiar smell of “rotten” eggs will linger while you spray the liquid initially, you won’t be able to smell it in the air once it dries.
Deer are strongly put off by the scent of garlic. The animals are also put off by the taste, so applying it to your plants will leave an odor that will have deer seeking something other than your prized topiary to munch on. Garlic powder is
cheap and can mix into solution faster than
using fresh garlic.
A fail-safe ingredient like cayenne pepper makes this homemade deer-repellent spray even more effective. Chili peppers are hot because they’re loaded with capsaicin. The strong smell and taste of the material is so irritating that most members of the wild kingdom avoid it. Dogs, cats, deer, rabbits, squirrels, rodents and many insects can be effectively repelled by chili-pepper products. Capsaicin is a naturally occurring substance deemed a biochemical pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Remember, you might not want to use a pepper-based spray on food crops!
Dish soap acts as a surfactant that helps your solution coat and cling to the leaves. A small amount is all you need. Be sure to shoo beneficial insects off your plants before spraying as they can suffocate from the soapy water
Blood or Bone Meal
Blood meal is made of dried blood from cattle slaughterhouses. Rabbits naturally avoid the product, so it makes a viable natural rabbit repellent. To protect your garden from rabbit damage, sprinkle dried blood meal around the edge. You must re-apply it often, especially after rain. Prolonged use can cause a nutrient imbalance in the area where it is applied.
Strong Smelling Soaps, Deodorizer Sticks or Air Freshener
Deodorant soaps have a strong smell. Irish Spring for instance can be chopped into small pieces and tied on string and hung from the outer branches as a deterrent. Solid air freshener has a dimple on the bottom so you can set it on top of a dowel or stick. Set the stick near whatever plant the deer are bothering. When the deer bend over to browse, they encounter smell of the air freshener, which they don’t like, and will back off.
Planting Herbs with Plants
Many gardeners have also benefited from planting certain plants in their garden. They can be natural pest repellents. Such herbs or plants include foxgloves or digitalis, aconitum, catnip plants, etc. Even aromatic plants like lavender, hyssop, mint, oregano, etc., can act as repellents, though we find its smell quite pleasing to our senses.
Urine gives pests a fright by making them think a predator visits your garden and thus avoid the area. Note that liquid urine requires frequent application — as much as every week — and can be expensive for treating a large garden. Hanging liquid dispensers may be a preferable choice, as they require only monthly refills. Granular forms can work effectively for treating large areas.
Linseed & Other Herbal Oils
Many people benefit from the use of a repellent that can be made by combining raw linseed oil, mint oil, oregano or clove oil and castile soap and water. The proportion of oil in this solution should be larger than that of water and soap. The strong astringent smell of the natural oils are naturally deer resistant.
Making Your Own Repellent Mixtures
Test your pepper solution on a small part of any plant species you plant to use it on before spraying the entire plant with it. Keep an eye on the spot for two days to make sure that the material doesn’t burn it.
Use pure castile soap, not detergents such as antibacterial and common commercial dish liquids, which can burn your plants. Soap acts as a surfactant, allowing the solution to stick to the
plant surfaces. It’s also a spreader and helps give good coverage of plant surfaces and bugs, which will die. Castile soaps are available from some grocery retailers, and they’re always carried by health food stores.
Things You Will Need
• Powdered red pepper
• Powdered Garlic
• Liquid castile soap
• Plastic spray bottle
• Eye protection
• Disposable mask
Wear gloves and eye protection when you apply pepper products in your garden. They will burn your eyes and may irritate your skin and the mucous membranes in your nose. Wear a disposable mask if you’re using the spray on a windy day
Store the pepper solution in a tightly closed container. Label and date the container clearly. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
3 tbsp. hot sauce. 3 raw eggs. 3 tbsp. minced garlic or garlic powder. 1-2 tbsp. water to thin. Then add mixture to 1 gallon of water and spray on your plants.
1 and 1/2 cup of milk. 1 tbsp of castile soap. 1 tbsp. cooking oil. Mix all ingredients together. Then add to 1-gallon of water and spray on your plants.
½ cup sour cream. ¼ tsp castile soap. 2 eggs beaten. ¼ tsp cooking oil. 20 drops clove oil. Add ingredients to 1 gallon of water, shake well. Spray on plants.
Sprinkle Blood or Bone meal at edge of plants and borders.
2 beaten Eggs. 1 cup milk, yogurt, buttermilk or sour milk. 2 tsp Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper. 20 drops essential oil of clove, cinnamon or eucalyptus found in small bottles at health food stores. 1 tsp cooking oil or dormant or neem oil. 1 tsp dish soap or Castile soap. Fill a 1-gallon sprayer with warm water after putting in mixture and shake.
One-part hot sauce to 16 parts water often works well. Studies have confirmed the obvious, that more and stronger works better.
Combine a combination of raw linseed oil (85%), mint oil, oregano or clove oil and castile soap (5%) and water (10%). The proportion of oil in this solution should be larger than that of water and soap. Shake well. And apply solution with a sprayer or house painting brush. Again, the detergent should be a strong smelling one. Reapply after rain or bi weekly.