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Do Deer Eat Echinacea? Is Coneflower Deer Resistant?

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gardener notes Gardeners Notes
Plant type: perennials
Deer resistant: yes
Our plant hardiness zone:
New Zealand: subtropical
U.S. Zone 10b

Have you heard of Echinacea, perhaps more commonly known as Coneflower? It's this cool plant that's apparently totally deer resistant! You can plant it in your garden and not have to worry about those pesky deer coming in and munching on your beautiful flowers.

coneflower deer resistant

So, echinacea is this perennial plant that's part of the daisy family. It's native to North America and can grow up to 3 feet tall, producing these beautiful cone-shaped flowers, which come in all sorts of colors like pink, purple, red, yellow, and even orange.

Actually, initially, there were only about 3 colors available, but thanks to science, we now have astonishing cultivars that can make a rainbow in your garden! We've first brought home Echinacea Purpurea (Moodz) kind, from local nursery, to test with our deer.

echinacea moodz in pot

And now after learning of great deer resistant properties, we're trying to start some PowWow® varieties from seed. Those look absolutely beautiful on pictures. Our seeds have just germinated so it's going to take a while to get to flowering plant (they often don't flower the 1st year and even up to 3 years).

coneflower seedlings

So if you're in a hurry better buy established plants, not seeds. Here in New Zealand our choice is quite limited.

But the best part about echinacea is that deer just can't stand it. Not sure why, because it’s not heavily scented, but they just stay away from it. We’ve tried inviting our deer to take a bite but they just turn around once they get a whiff of it. 

deer hate echinacea plant

So, you can finally have a garden that's not just a salad bar for all the deer in the neighborhood. Turns out, the University of Vermont Extension System lists coneflowers as deer-resistant plants.

Now, don't get me wrong. Echinacea isn't entirely pest-proof. Snails and slugs seem to come from far and wide to snack on the petals, so prepare some snail bait pellets, but at least it's not those huge, hoofed creatures destroying everything in sight.

On the plus side, Coneflower attracts heaps of pollinators. Always a bee on those flowers.

If you want to maximize your deer-repelling power, plant some other deer-resistant plants around your echinacea. Lavender, mint family plants like salvia, yarrow are all great options. And if you're really serious about keeping those deer away, you can try some deer repellents like liquid fence or even motion-activated sprinklers (at your own risk, why - read here).

But echinacea isn't just a pretty face. It's got some serious health benefits too. People have been using it for centuries to boost their immune systems and fight off infections. Nowadays, you can find echinacea in all sorts of dietary supplements to help prevent colds and the flu. Many plants used in traditional herbal medicine are ones deer avoid. 

yellow coneflowers

Image source: Pexels

So, not only does echinacea look good, but it's also good for you. And the fact that deer hate it is just the icing on the cake. Of course, if those poor little guys are under severe pressure and stress for food, even the coneflower might not be safe, but those would be desperate times for deer indeed.

In conclusion, echinacea is a pretty amazing plant. It's colorful, it's hardy, it's good for you, and it's a total deer-repelling machine. So, if you're tired of those pesky deer ruining your garden, give echinacea a try. Who knows, you might just fall in love with it.

Last modified 17 September 2023 at 01:45

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