Deer are known for their voracious appetites and will eat a wide variety of plants, including both wild and domesticated species. While they are typically associated with munching on grasses and other foliage in the wild, they are also known to venture into gardens and other landscaped areas in search of food.
One plant that you may be wondering about is the wandering jew, a common garden plant known for its colorful foliage and easy care. But do deer find this plant to be appetizing, and should you be concerned about protecting it from hungry herbivores?
Let’s take a closer look.
What is Wandering Jew? Wandering jew (Tradescantia sp.) is a flowering plant that is native to Central and South America. It is widely cultivated as a houseplant and garden ornamental due to its attractive, colorful foliage and low maintenance requirements.
There are several different species of wandering jew, including Tradescantia fluminensis and Tradescantia zebrina, which are among the most popular.
These plants are characterized by their elongated, fleshy leaves, which are often variegated with shades of green, purple, and pink. They are also known for their small, three-petaled flowers, which are typically purple or pink in color.
Wandering jew is a fast-growing plant that is often used as a groundcover or trailing plant in garden beds and containers. It is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions and is easy to propagate from stem cuttings.
Do Deer Eat Wandering Jew?
So, what about deer? Is wandering jew on their menu, or do they leave this plant alone?
The short answer is that it is possible for deer to eat wandering jew, but it is not a common occurrence.
Deer are known to be selective eaters, and their dietary preferences can vary depending on a number of factors, including the availability of other food sources, the nutritional value of the plants they are considering, and their own individual tastes.
In general, deer tend to prefer succulent, nutritious plants with high protein and energy content, such as clovers, legumes, and grasses. They are also known to be attracted to plants with a strong aroma or taste, such as herbs and spices.
Wandering jew, on the other hand, is not a particularly nutritious plant and may not be as appealing to deer as other options. However, if deer are hungry and wandering jew is the only food available, they may be more likely to eat it.
In addition, some individual deer may have a preference for certain plants, and it is possible that some may find wandering jew to be more appealing than others.
There are also a number of other factors that can influence whether or not deer will eat wandering jew.
For example, deer are more likely to browse in areas where they feel safe and undisturbed, so if your garden is located in a secluded area or is not regularly visited by humans, you may be more at risk of deer damage.
Similarly, deer may be more likely to eat wandering jew if it is growing in an area with a limited food supply, such as in a drought-stressed garden or a landscaped area with few other plant options.
Personal experiences and observations also suggest that deer may be more likely to eat wandering jew if it is young or freshly planted, as the tender, new growth may be more appealing to them. On the other hand, mature plants with thick, woody stems may be less at risk of deer damage.
How to Protect Wandering Jew from Deer
If you are concerned about protecting your wandering jew from deer, there are a few strategies you can try.
One option is to use deer repellents, which are products that are applied to plants to deter deer from eating them. There are a wide variety of deer repellents available, including sprays, granules, and plug-in devices that release a scent that deer find unpleasant.
Some people find that using a combination of different types of repellents is most effective. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products, as they can be harmful to humans or pets if ingested or inhaled.
Another option is to use physical barriers to protect your wandering jew from deer. Fencing is the most effective way to keep deer out of a garden, but it can be expensive and may not be practical for everyone.
Alternatively, you can try using netting, mesh, or other types of protective barriers to cover your plants. Just be sure to use a material that is strong enough to withstand deer and other potential pests, and make sure that the barrier is securely anchored in place.
If you have a particularly large or vulnerable population of wandering jew, you may want to consider installing a deer-proof enclosure around your garden or patio. This can be a more permanent solution that provides a safe space for your plants to grow without the risk of deer damage.
In summary, it is possible for deer to eat wandering jew, but it is not a common occurrence. Deer have their own dietary preferences and will choose other plants if they are available.
However, if deer are hungry and wandering jew is the only food source, they may be more likely to eat it. To protect your wandering jew from deer, you can try using deer repellents, physical barriers, or deer-proof enclosures.
With a little bit of effort, you can keep your wandering jew safe and healthy in your garden or landscape.
How can I tell if my wandering jew has been eaten by deer?
If you suspect that your wandering jew has been eaten by deer, look for signs of browsing, such as jagged or missing leaves or stems that have been bitten off. You may also see evidence of deer hooves or droppings in the area.
Keep in mind that other types of animals, such as rabbits or rodents, may also eat wandering jew, so it is important to consider all potential sources of damage.
Are there any deer-resistant varieties of wandering jew that I can plant?
Some people have had success using varieties of wandering jew that are less appealing to deer, such as Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’ or Tradescantia albiflora ‘Lavender Lace’. However, it is important to note that no plant is completely deer-proof, and individual deer may have their own preferences.
It is always a good idea to take precautions to protect your plants, regardless of their supposed deer resistance.
Can I use chemical pesticides to keep deer away from my wandering jew?
Using chemical pesticides to deter deer is generally not recommended, as these products can be harmful to humans, pets, and the environment. In addition, deer are likely to become accustomed to the smell of the pesticides over time, rendering them less effective.
Instead, consider using natural or organic methods to deter deer, such as deer repellents made from essential oils or spicy herbs.
Is it possible to train deer to stay away from my garden?
Training deer to stay away from a specific area is generally not practical or effective. Deer are wild animals and are not easily domesticated or conditioned to respond to human commands.
Instead of trying to train deer, it is more effective to take preventative measures to protect your plants, such as using deer repellents or physical barriers.
Can I feed deer other plants to keep them away from my wandering jew?
Feeding deer is generally not recommended, as it can lead to overpopulation and other problems. In addition, feeding deer does not guarantee that they will stay away from your wandering jew or other plants in your garden.
Instead of feeding deer, focus on deterring them from your garden through the use of deer repellents or physical barriers.