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Salix (Willow) Stems at Bluestem Nursery

Salix (Willow)

Willows and Deer


We sympathize with those of you who must contend with deer eating their ornamental plantings. Our area has an abundance of the beautiful "but unwelcome in my garden" animals.

I am not sure about the deer in your area, but I can tell you about the deer in southern British Columbia. For many years our willows grew out in the open and no deer touched them. Then came the really hot and bone dry summer of 2003 (the infamous summer of forests fires). That fall and winter the deer ate our willows.

I have a fedge out of S. triandra 'Black Maul' and it is right alongside a major deer pathway (they touch it when they walk by) and they sleep about 20 feet away from it. But they don't so much as nibble it.

Also, a customer in New York state buys willows from us because she says the only plants not eaten by deer on her acreage are the willows. So I am guessing that willows are not their favourite food and they will only eat them when there is nothing else to eat. Salix purpureas are known to be bitter and not eaten by livestock or rabbits.

Willows grow so fast that even if the deer do eat them, they will bounce back very quickly. However if you are planting plugs or cuttings, they should be protected until well rooted because if a deer decides to sample it, they would likely be pulled out of the ground.


Ornamental Grasses and Deer

Tip from Kathy Phillipy:

Kathy grows willows and they don't touch them, however she is not so lucky with her other ornamentals. She has recently discovered a product which is working very well to keep the deer from munching on her ornamental. She says "It is working beautifully. They haven't touched anything since I sprayed." The company is called Messina Wildlife.