Deer and rabbit damage to plants is such a problem for most of us that we’ve almost given up trying to plant home gardens, landscapes and orchards. Short of surrounding our yards with ten-foot fences, no deer deterrent seems to work for long. According to the U.S. government, “… there is no single product or device that will provide consistent long term plant protection from animal browsing damage.” , we’ve found this to be true. But the key word here is “single product”.
Happily, there’s a game changer in the war with hungry deer and rabbits. It’s a combination of two products: “Step One” and then “Step Two”. Together, these steps are revolutionary.
Let’s start with Step Two, a plant food tablet containing 6-8-8 fertilizer, a wide array of soil mycorrhizae, and one percent Denatonium. Called PlantSaver, this small pill can be easily pressed two inches deep in the root zone of any ornamental plant. The Denatonium, also called Bitrix, is the key ingredient and the supplements just help the plant absorb it. As the tablet dissolves, it feeds the plant while at the same time giving it a terrible bitter taste.
Denatonium is the most bitter substance known. It is widely used to prevent accidental poisoning by products such as rat poison, anti-freeze, rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover. It isn’t poison, but even trace amounts are unbearably bitter to eat. When it is absorbed by plants, it has a long-lasting effect. Deer and rabbits simply won’t eat more than the first nibble.
Which brings us to Step One. Installing PlantSaver with new plants or adding it to existing plants will not work until the Bitrix is absorbed and travels up into the plant, which must be actively growing. In the meantime, you need to spray the plant with PlantSaver repellent. By the time the repellent loses its effect (four to six weeks), the Bitrix will be all throughout the plant and will stay there until dormancy.
The two-step system was developed and field tested in co-ordination with Glaxo-Kline Pharmaceutical from 1996-2004. Comparison tests of many sulfur and capsicum based repellents were performed. In every test, the key ingredients in PlantSaver Step One spray worked better and lasted longer than competitors using other active ingredients. Since then over 5 million plants worldwide have been successfully treated with the Natura PlantSaver 2-Step combination.
We believe that the battle to protect ornamental plants from deer and rabbit browsing is winnable. It will take just two steps, and we have them both at our nursery.
Steve Boehme and his wife Marjorie own GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located at 9736 Tri-County Highway, near Winchester, Ohio. More information is available atwww.goodseedfarm.comor call (937) 587-7021.