Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) Are desirable for their bright spring blooms, colorful fall foliage and ease of care. Unfortunately, the shrubs are as desirable to deer as they are to people. Even though there are many deer-resistant flowering shrubs, azaleas aren’t just one of them.
Azaleas are a favorite snack of deer, and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) specifically. Actually, evergreen azaleas are rated as “frequently severely damaged” by deer, according to Rutgers University. Deciduous azaleas are apparently marginally less delicious. They are rated as “sometimes severely damaged” — probably due to the fact that deciduous azaleas don’t keep their delicious leaves throughout the winter.
If you would like to grow azaleas and you’ve got hungry deer in the region, choose a smaller, dwarf variety, and grow it in a container. The Kurume hybrids, such as “Coral Bells” and “Pink Pearl,” are usually grown in pots, notes the University of Missouri Extension. Place the container at a location near the home or beneath a bright, motion-activated light. Another option is to surround your azalea or azaleas with a deer-resistant hedge, including a barberry hedge.
If your azaleas are damaged by deer, then you can occasionally nurse them back to heath. First and most of all, remove your azalea to a location where it may no longer be munched on by deer or other animals. Prune off damaged or broken branches. Then, soften the soil around your azalea and surround it with a thick layer of mulch. This will stifle weed growth and preserve nutrients from the soil; nutrients your plant needs to recover its health. Should you use wood mulch, pile it to a thickness of 2 inches. Leaf mulches must be 4 to 6 inches deep. At the spring, fertilize your azalea with a 6-10-4 formulation, or look for a fertilizer that is designed for flowering shrubs.
The very best way to deal with hungry deer in your landscape is to grow crops that aren’t attractive to deer, implies the Ohio Landscape Association. Many plants offer spring blooms that are just as attractive as azaleas but have the additional plus of being deer resistant. 1 possibility is the Brilliant Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia “Brilliantissima”) that, such as azaleas, offers both spring and drop curiosity, together with lush white blooms in the spring and bright red berries in the fall. The Lynwood Gold forsythia (Forsythia x intermediata “Lynwood Gold”) is, like many azaleas, tolerant of shade, and it flowers with vibrant yellow spring blossoms.