Crape myrtles are colorful deciduous or evergreen shrubs and trees. Although their beautiful flowers delight gardeners, crape myrtles sometimes attract hungry creatures. In this article, we’ll discover whether crape myrtles are deer resistant and what you can do to protect your shrubs from invading animals.
Are Crape Myrtles Deer Resistant?
Several university extensions say crape myrtles are “Seldom Damaged” by deer. This means that most types of crape myrtles are pretty resistant to grazing deer. However, deer may still consume crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) if they’re extremely hungry and have few other options.
If a deer does decide to eat a part of your crape myrtle, it’ll target tender new shoots and leaves. New shoots and leaves emerge during the spring and summer, so that’s when your crape myrtle is most vulnerable. That said, crape myrtle shrubs have woody stems that aren’t popular with deer.
Young or newly planted crape myrtle shrubs are more vulnerable to grazing deer than established plants. Older crape myrtles should survive being nibbled occasionally by deer and other animals.
What Other Animals Can Eat Crape Myrtles?
Crape myrtles finish flowering in the fall and are followed by masses of seeds. During the winter, these seeds are eaten by several species of birds, including cardinals, goldfinches, and sparrows. Crape myrtles seeds sustain birds and other wildlife through the slim pickings of winter.
Squirrels can sometimes eat crape myrtle shoots, but this is fairly rare. Pests like aphids, Japanese beetles, scale insects, and spider mites also consume the sap from crape myrtles. Eliminate these insects using horticultural oils or insecticidal soap.
How to Protect Your Crape Myrtle From Deer and Other Animals
Fences & Enclosures
Using a fence is the easiest way to protect your crape myrtle against hungry deer. This helps protect your whole garden against grazing herbivores. Plant crape myrtles away from low fences that enterprising deer could reach over.
Always ensure your fence has no gaps, as deer might force their way through. An 8-foot tall fence is ideal for keeping deer away from your plants. Check that there aren’t any holes underneath your fence, as these can allow squirrels and other rodents into your garden.
If fences aren’t practical, you can protect crape myrtles and other vulnerable plants using enclosures. Chicken wire is ideal for this, especially for young or newly planted crape myrtles. Using a chicken wire enclosure protects the young shoots, allowing your crape myrtle to grow without being threatened by deer.
Companion plants are an easy and beautiful way of deterring deer and other animals from eating your crape myrtle. Many companion plants work due to having a strong scent or spiky foliage that puts off grazing deer. Mahonias are excellent spiky shrubs that repel deer and other animals.
Companion plants such as catmint, lavender, and lemon balm produce strong fragrances that deer don’t like. Herbs like chives, oregano, sage, and thyme also deter deer due to their strong smells. As a bonus, you can also harvest these herbs, which helps you make the most of your garden space.
You can also buy animal repellent sprays to keep deer and other animals from nibbling on your crape myrtle. These sprays are designed not to harm your plant while repelling grazing animals. If you have pets, ensure your chosen spray isn’t toxic to keep them safe.
Repellent sprays are applied directly to the leaves of plants like crape myrtles. However, the sprays only last until they’re washed off. This means that you’ll have to respray your crape myrtle after rainfall.
Crape Myrtle Deer-Resistance FAQs:
What Animal Eats Crape Myrtles?
Deer rarely eat crape myrtles but may occasionally be eaten by squirrels. Several species of birds consume crape myrtle seeds during the winter.
What Problems Do Crape Myrtles Have?
Crape myrtles are prone to diseases like leaf spot and powdery mildew and pests like aphids, Japanese beetles, scale insects, and spider mites. To manage these problems, use insecticidal soap and horticultural oils.
Are Crape Myrtles High Maintenance?
Crape myrtles are fairly low-maintenance plants as long as they receive full sun. Crape myrtles thrive in most types of soil as long the soil is well-draining.
Crape myrtles are ‘Seldom Damaged’ by deer, meaning these shrubs are pretty deer-resistant. To be on the safe side, erect a tall fence around your garden to keep hungry deer away from your crape myrtles.