Although deer will eat almost any available plant in times of drought, when nursing or pregnant, certain plant species attract deer. The Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leyandii or Cupressus leylandii) is such a plant.
Leyland cypress frequently sustains deer damage, according to the West Virginia University Extension. This cypress has soft, fine foliage, which deer prefer to rough or prickly leaves.
A fast-growing evergreen tree, Leyland cypress reaches heights up to 90 feet and widths of 15 feet. It has feathery, blue-green needles. Trees grow in a pyramid shape and are commonly used in screens and hedges, in highway medians and as Christmas trees. Deer damage Leyland cypress by browsing on foliage and twigs, especially in spring and summer, when the deer are pregnant or nursing, or in times of drought. Bucks cause damage by rubbing their antlers on the bark. This behavior can girdle the tree and eventually kill it.
Plant Leyland cypress in full sun to partial shade. This salt- and drought-tolerant tree tolerates a range of soils, from sand to clay and acidic to alkaline. It prefers moist, well-draining soil. Leyland cypress thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. To keep deer away from your Leyland cypress trees, try prevention methods such as physical barriers, fencing, repellents and population control.
- West Virginia University Extension: Resistance of Ornamentals to Deer Damage
- University of Georgia: Deer-Tolerant Ornamental Plants
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Cupressus leylandii
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: x Cupressocyparis Leylandii Leyland Cypress
- Rutgers New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station: Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance