Do Deer Eat Knock Out Roses?

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Gardening can be a labor of love because no matter how much care you give your plants, there will likely be an outside foe that disrupts a garden. If you're dealing with pesky deer eating up your Knock Out® roses (​Rosa hybrida​ Knock Out® ), don't fret. You can deter deer from running amuck in your yard.

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Yes, deer eat most types of roses, including Knock Outs.

Knock Out Roses Characteristics

The Knock Out series of roses was created by hybridizer and rose breeder William Radler. This group of roses is drought tolerant, self-cleaning and easy to grow. The shrub roses bloom from spring to frost. Not only do these roses bloom with minimal care in a variety of colors ranging from blush to vibrant red, as well as yellow, but they're also considered to be some of the most disease-resistant roses on the market.

Although they usually grow to be about 3 to 5 feet tall, they can reach about 8 feet tall if they're not pruned. It's recommended that you cut them back with loppers at least once a year in late winter to early spring after the last hard frost.

Before planting Knock Out roses, you must know that they're not deer resistant. Deer are herbivorous, and they love to eat all parts of the rose, even the thorny parts. Don't worry, though, because if they end up eating your roses, they should still bloom repeatedly throughout the season.

Identifying Deer Damage

If you're noticing severe damage to your Knock Out roses but you're not sure deer are causing the damage, there are telltale signs to look out for when identifying deer damage. Deer damage is a bit more random and ragged compared to other animal damage. Deer don't have upper incisors, so they have to tear plants, and that's why leaves or stalks look ragged when deer eat them. When animals like rabbits or other small rodents eat plants, they tend to eat plants cleanly.

Another sign you should look for is the shape of tracks left behind. Deer tracks are 2-3 inches long, and they're shaped like broken hearts because of a deer's cloven hooves. There isn't a particular distance between tracks you should look out for though, that largely depends on if deer are grazing or running.

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Deterring Deer From Eating Roses

If you want to keep the deer away from your roses altogether, you can spray a product like Liquid Fence on your roses. Liquid Fence Deer & Rabbit Repellent creates an invisible barrier to ward off these animals. Deer have a natural aversion to the scent, so they won't even have to eat your roses to become repelled by the product.

If you don't want to use a commercial brand repellent spray, you can also make your own blend. One mixture that anecdotally works for many gardeners is a combination of 1 cup of water, three eggs, 1/3 cup hot sauce and 1/3 cup liquid dishwashing soap. Pour this mixture into a gallon tank sprayer and fill it with water. Make sure you wear gloves and goggles when spraying this mixture onto your roses.

You can begin a weekly spray schedule at the start of spring, about once a week, until the deer stop eating the rosebushes. If you don't want to use a spray, you can also use deer netting or erect a fence to protect your roses.

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references & resources

Allanah Dykes is a freelance writer and her work has been featured on Elite Daily, Levo League, Popsugar, Complex, Gurl, The Kitchn, HelloGiggles, Revelist, and Food 52.