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Need help with drought resistant perennials that deer love?

 
Anne Miller
pollinator
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I am looking for ways to feed deer so I want plants that deer love or will eat.  I know many people here want to keep deer from eating their plants.  So which drought resistant perennial plants do you have trouble growing because the deer like them?

We are at about 3300 ft  USDA Zone 8 and have been in a drought since May.  In Sept we got enough rain to fill our rain barrel but have had no rain since then other than a sprinkle.

We have lots of juniper, oaks and two mesquite trees.  We have prickly pear, agerita, yucca, croton, spurge and several different grasses.
The deer eat juniper berries, acorns, oak leaves, agerita berries and yucca blossoms.  I know they love alpha and chicory, but I don't think we can get it established.

In the past, we planted turnips, purple hull peas, oats, rye, and other seed mixes.  The turnips grew best but the deer didn't eat them and they went to seed but did not come back the next year. The rye that self seeded from last year came up but died from lack of rain. This year we only planted rye, oats and the last of the seed mixture.  But we have had no rain so all our work has been wasted.

What I am trying to figure out is there some plants that I can water to get them started but then sit back and watch them grow? So what drought tolerant perennial plants that you have planted that deer like?  Things that can be started from seed and is readily available.


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Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I think it's too late in the year to establish amaranth, but you might consider it for next year. Once established it's very drought tolerant and produces abundant seed to replant itself. The whole plant is extremely nutritious for humans. I can't see it being less healthy for deer.

Here's an off the wall suggestion that's not started from seed.  Despite their reputation as finicky plants, many varieties of roses are very resilient. Especially if you aren't obsessed with keeping perfect foliage. When we were in drought here, the deer came by like clockwork the day before our roses bloomed to eat all the rose buds.

If you've ever heard of the 'Texas Rose Rustlers' they made a name for themselves by propagating the roses they found surviving at abandoned homesteads and old cemeteries. Propagating roses from cuttings is actually pretty straightforward. This is even a good time to start the cuttings to have them ready to go into the ground in spring.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Are you hunters? Or do you just like deer? Altering the soil so it will retain what little rain does come might be a good bet. One hole, deep and amended to hold water, surrounded by flat stones and sloped soil, might be a good home for a tree and some guildmates.

Maybe grape vines would be a good plant for you.
They have deep roots,prolific foliage,they love heat,deer love them, and they readily come back from being chopped to the ground.
The foliage can be arranged on minimal infrastructure to create shade,which might shield morning dew from evaporation.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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There are usually some native plants which deer love to eat, plus they can be important food sources for various butterflies, pollinators, and birds.  If you can give your location I can help research native plants for your locale.  This is the right time to plant seeds of most natives, at least in my region.

You might want to protect the plantings for a year before letting the deer at them, otherwise they may not get established and just get completely eaten down.  If you have enough space to plant a lot, you can protect the plantings in rotation with movable fences so there's always some coming up and some available for eating.

 
Anne Miller
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Posts: 557
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Casie Becker wrote:I think it's too late in the year to establish amaranth, but you might consider it for next year. Once established it's very drought tolerant and produces abundant seed to replant itself. The whole plant is extremely nutritious for humans. I can't see it being less healthy for deer.
Here's an off the wall suggestion that's not started from seed.  Despite their reputation as finicky plants, many varieties of roses are very resilient. Especially if you aren't obsessed with keeping perfect foliage. When we were in drought here, the deer came by like clockwork the day before our roses bloomed to eat all the rose buds.

If you've ever heard of the 'Texas Rose Rustlers' they made a name for themselves by propagating the roses they found surviving at abandoned homesteads and old cemeteries. Propagating roses from cuttings is actually pretty straightforward. This is even a good time to start the cuttings to have them ready to go into the ground in spring.


I'm just trying to get ideas for the future.  Amaranth might be a great idea.  One I would have never thought of and probably the turkey and dove would like it too.
Also I would not have thought of roses.  I went to the Texas Rose Rustler website and will have to go back later on.  I can't say that I have seen any roses growing around here.  But I will research to see what oldtime roses might be around or that I can buy.

William Bronson wrote: Are you hunters? Or do you just like deer? Altering the soil so it will retain what little rain does come might be a good bet. One hole, deep and amended to hold water, surrounded by flat stones and sloped soil, might be a good home for a tree and some guildmates.

Maybe grape vines would be a good plant for you.
They have deep roots,prolific foliage,they love heat,deer love them, and they readily come back from being chopped to the ground.
The foliage can be arranged on minimal infrastructure to create shade,which might shield morning dew from evaporation.


Grape is a good idea, too.  Where we used to live there was I think a wild one called Mustang.  More research ideas!
We are not hunters. We are managing a hunting area.  DH used to hunt.  This summer we unfortunately got attached to two does.  They must have been someone's pets.  Bow hunt season started last weekend so they are probably gone.

We can't did holes because there are too many rocks. We have two wet weather creeks and a tank, the tank is about 20 ft past the tree in my picture.


Tyler Ludens wrote:There are usually some native plants which deer love to eat, plus they can be important food sources for various butterflies, pollinators, and birds.  If you can give your location I can help research native plants for your locale.  This is the right time to plant seeds of most natives, at least in my region.

You might want to protect the plantings for a year before letting the deer at them, otherwise they may not get established and just get completely eaten down.  If you have enough space to plant a lot, you can protect the plantings in rotation with movable fences so there's always some coming up and some available for eating.


I am probably 100 miles due west of you, between Kerrville and San Angelo, in the Hill Country and The Edwards Plateau.  In the spring we have lots of wild flowers. I know that Oct. is the time to plant native seeds.  We have bluebonnets, firewheels, two leaf senna, verbena, mountain pinks, blue sage {blue + white blossoms], Mexican hat, rain flowers and maybe the wild onions.  I don't think the deer like any of them unless they are really hungry.

Our food plots are set up to keep deer off until we are ready to let them on them. 

I know I said seed ... but what do you think about sunchock and jicima?  Will they eat the foliage?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I've not found sunchoke to be drought tolerant in this climate. Our regional equivalent is Maximilian Sunflower, which is more drought tolerant but still wants more water than really drought tolerant plants.  Cutleaf Daisy and Winecup are two wildflowers which deer like a lot and are reasonably drought tolerant, but not super.

Deer eagerly eat "spineless" Prickly Pear.

Our place is severely overbrowsed, so what I've started doing is putting up fences around groups of trees to try to let shrubs and baby trees grow up for a few years.
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 557
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Thanks everyone.  I'll be busy researching!

I found a couple of helpful links:

/Deep-rooting-cover-crops

huntingwildlifehabitat/landowners_guide/species_mgmt/Deer.htm
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 557
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Casie, do you have a variety of amaranth that you would recommend and where to buy seed?  I looked at Bakers Creek and Johnny's Seeds and their prices aren't too bad. 
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Anything I would recommend would be based mostly on research. I've only grown it a couple of years, and I first made the mistake of choosing a partly shady spot. It survived to produce viable seed, but stayed small. This year I planted some of those seeds in a full sun location and it was probably ten times as large. That was still only five feet tall so I haven't found the best variety yet. If you look online, some people are growing lush plants much taller than a person.

I'm hoping next year will be the year it takes off. I deliberately spread the flower heads from the largest/healthiest plant across the whole bed where I grew them this year. I'm hoping that they will be like my dill was last winter and completely fill that bed with plants next summer.

I did notice when starting the seeds of the four different varieties I was trying this year that the white seed varieties had much faster germination. The wild variety that sprouts in our yard, and many of the varieties grown for greens rather than grain have black seeds and they all took longer to germinate.

I picked up 'Burgundy' at a local nursery, and from Baker Creek seeds I ordered 'Molten Fire' and two Vietnamese varieties. The ones that survive my haphazard gardening where all magenta varieties with white seeds, so either Burghundy or Molten Fire. This worked well for me because I grew them in my front yard and being ornamental was part of it's purpose.

If I were looking to plant huge quantities for food purposes, I would simply purchase in bulk at a food store. Most grocery stores will have it in bags near the flours or the pastas and it should be a staple at any health food store. Much cheaper than buying as a seed packet.

For your purposes it is important to note that even the 'grain' varieties are completely edible. This abundance of seed just increases the chances that the plant would be self perpetuating in a food plot situation.


You asking about it finally motivated me to actually clean some seed today. I pulled most of the flowers from the weakest plant.  This one plant yielded 1/4 cup of seed, which I will probably eat with oatmeal. Hopefully eating the seeds of the weaker plants and leaving the seed from the strongest in the garden will select for plants that grow vigorously in my conditions.

I'm planning to change how I save seeds in the future (mostly by saving extra) so that I am prepared when I want to share seeds in the future.  I've gotten it through my head that I can save seed and adapt plants to my specific garden. I'm still having a hard time convincing myself that those seeds could then be valuable to other gardeners. After all, I'm not any kind of expert plant breeder and haven't taken any steps to keep my seeds 'pure'. Having a bumper crop of amaranth from this years efforts would go a long way to breaking that thought pattern for me.  If I do, I'll try to remember to spread the seeds around to other gardeners
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 557
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I posted a reply about 6:30 this morning and it has never shown up.  we were have electric fluctuations so that maybe why it did show up.

Yesterday we went to the grocery store.  I looked at the produce for sunchokes, but didn't see any.  They had ginger at $6.99 a lb and jicama. I don't think they have amaranth.  They have quinoa for $15.00 a pkg.  I checked Walmart online and amaranth is $7.99 for 16 oz.

After looking at all the survival seed pkg with seed I don't want, I decided to start saving seeds, especially from things I buy at the store [which isn't much].

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.  I'm still researching.
 
Anupo Lich
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Location: Northern California
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Agapanthus africanus is the favorite of my deer population. I long ago stopped trying to plant this lovely tough drought resistant plant in my front yard. They were always nibbled to the ground and valiantly come up again in the spring. I now use them as a warning system on the perimeter of my vegetable gardens. They are the very first thing deer in my area will eat, leaves and flowers. Agapanthus are very tough. I can say inadvertently, I have tested, sometimes over years the minimal water idea - even in pots. What I've been thinking about recently is planting some along the ancient deer path leaving some protected in a wire frame until after they bloom then letting our friends chow down since that is about the time they are needing new food sources. I'm also zone 8. Northern California
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Agapanthus africanus  - Very pretty plant!

Today is 1/8/2017; tomorrow I am starting a project so I just thought I would do some research.  I haven't been able to find it HEB even though the website says they have it.

http://edibleplantproject.org/callaloo/

Callaloo (Amaranthus cruentus sp.) is usually regarded as an unwelcome weed in western agriculture, but it is a fantastically nutritious vegetable, appreciated most other places it grows. Amaranths are relatives of spinach and have a similar flavor. They use the C-4 metabolic pathway, which enables explosive growth under good conditions, growing up to 8 feet tall in just a few months ... It is an African species grown for its delicious large leaves and soft stems, and is used as a potherb (it is not eaten raw). It is enjoyed throughout the Caribbean, and our seed line came from Jamaica. Seeds may be broadcast and then thinned. They grow fast and tall, and will produce seed even if most of the plant has been eaten. Amaranths are full of vitamins and minerals, and even some protein. The nutritious nature of these plants has not escaped the notice of just about every species of caterpillar, so you would be well advised to pick up a bottle of concentrated BT and a spray bottle to mix and spray the plants with if you encounter problems.  They tolerate mild droughts and resume growth when rain returns, but severe droughts will be severely damaging. Sun: Full. Cold: They are summer annuals, and will be killed by frost, but they also grow very rapidly to a size that would be worth harvesting, so you can sometimes get a small crop out during the winter in North Florida if we have a month or so without frost. Propagation: For the black type, you can let old plants go to seed, and they’ll come up again on their own. Also collect branches and dry them, shake out seeds onto new spot. This should work for the white kind too. Seed trays are also useful to control spacing and ensure even stand establishment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth

Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of annual or short-lived perennial plants. Some amaranth species are cultivated as leaf vegetables, pseudocereals, and ornamental plants. Most of the species from Amaranthus are summer annual weeds and are commonly referred to as pigweed. Catkin-like cymes of densely packed flowers grow in summer or autumn. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to green or gold. Members of this genus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related genus Celosia

A good post about plants:

What does it mean when weeds "compete"?







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deer
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 557
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Species diversity.
Food plots for deer typically contain only 1 to 2 plant types. Other species of wildlife can benefit from plantings with more diversity (see Tables 2 and 4). However, food plots containing a mixture of four or more species are usually not
compatible and are therefore not very productive. Consider planting small food plots (1/2 acre) containing different combinations of two species.

Green Browse Food Plots (Perennial)-   These are usually mixed with a thin stand of cool-season grass or inter-seeded into an existing stand of cool-season grass
Alfalfa -well drained soil

Green Forage Food Plots (Annual)
Spring Oats - moderate well drained soil
Sunflowers -        "         "      "         "
Buckwheat - Well drained soil

Winter Food Plots
corn -  moderate well drained soil
grain sorgham (milo) -  moderate well drained soil
wheat - Somewhat Poorly Drained

Hunting Season Plots
rye - Somewhat Poorly Drained
wheat - Somewhat Poorly Drained

https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/fnr/fnr-194.pdf
 
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