Are you tired of deer munching on your garden plants?
If you’re looking for a ground cover that’s both beautiful and deer-resistant, you might want to consider thyme.
But does that mean deer won’t eat thyme ground cover at all?
In this article, we’ll explore the answer to this question and provide you with some helpful tips on how to grow and maintain thyme as a ground cover.
So, let’s dive in and find out if thyme is the perfect solution to your deer problem!
Do Deer Eat Thyme Ground Cover
Deer are known to be voracious eaters and can cause significant damage to gardens and landscapes. However, when it comes to thyme ground cover, deer tend to steer clear.
Thyme plants contain volatile oils that give off a pungent scent that is quite repellent to deer. This means that thyme is not a preferred food source for deer, and they are unlikely to eat it unless they are desperate for food.
In fact, thyme is one of the best plants to grow in a deer-resistant garden. It’s not just the scent that repels deer, but also the fuzzy foliage that they don’t like to eat. Other herbs that are not a deer’s favorite food include sage, rosemary, oregano, and mint.
Deer-Resistant Ground Covers: Why Thyme Is A Great Option
If you’re looking for a ground cover that is both beautiful and deer-resistant, thyme is an excellent option. Creeping thyme, in particular, is a popular aromatic herb that has a strong scent that makes it the perfect ground cover to deter deer.
One of the benefits of using creeping thyme as a deer repellent is that it’s pretty effective and stress-free. It does not require a lot of maintenance, giving you the time and freedom to focus on your garden instead.
Thyme is a small Mediterranean herb that deer do not eat. It has a very strong aroma, and it also has amazing medicinal properties. Thyme essential oil is actually far stronger than the popular tea tree oil. And our beautiful but hungry herbivores don’t like many medicinal herbs.
Thyme is an excellent herb and given its small size, it’s easy to grow it between vegetables, shrubs or flowers. It’s also very undemanding and it’s ideal for rock gardens. In fact, it actually likes poor conditions, and if you visit its natural environment, you will see it cropping up among stones on the sides of roads.
There are many varieties of thyme, including decorative ones; in fact, the little lavender to white flowers are very attractive. Thyme is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 and prefers full sun exposure. It can grow up to 1 foot tall and in spread (30 cm) and requires very well-drained loam, chalk or sand-based soil with pH from mildly alkaline to neutral. It’s drought-resistant and rocky soil tolerant.
It should be noted that no plant is 100% deer-resistant. When times get tough and food sources dwindle, even these deer-proof ground covers may be consumed. Applying commercial deer repellents during these times may provide sufficient protection to ground covers to deter deer.
Understanding Deer Feeding Habits: Will They Still Eat Thyme?
Deer are herbivores and will eat a variety of plants, including flowers, leaves, and young branches of vegetables, decorative plants, and herbs. However, their feeding habits can vary depending on the availability of food in their natural habitat.
Deer have a strong sense of smell that is 50 times stronger than humans. They are attracted to plants with a sweet aroma, but they are put off by plants with strong scents. Thyme is an herb that contains volatile oils with a pungent scent that is quite repellent to deer. This means that deer are less likely to eat thyme ground cover unless they are in a situation where food choices are slim, and they need to survive.
It’s worth noting that deer tend to avoid plants with fuzzy foliage as well. Thyme has leaves with a fuzzy texture that deer don’t like to eat. This makes it an excellent plant to grow in a deer-resistant garden, as it’s less likely to be damaged by these four-legged visitors.
Tips For Growing And Maintaining Thyme Ground Cover
Growing thyme ground cover is relatively easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure healthy growth and maintenance of the plants. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Soil: Thyme ground cover grows best in well-draining soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Ensure that the soil is not waterlogged, as this can lead to root rot, which can be detrimental to the plants.
2. Sunlight: Thyme ground cover needs full sun to grow properly, although it can tolerate some shade. Make sure that the plants receive at least six hours of sunlight per day.
3. Watering: Thyme ground cover does not require much watering once established, but it’s important to keep the soil consistently moist during the initial growth phase. After the plants have matured, water them only when the soil is dry to the touch.
4. Fertilizer: Thyme ground cover does not require heavy fertilization, but you can add a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season to promote healthy growth.
5. Pruning: Thyme ground cover can become woody over time, so it’s important to prune the plants regularly to encourage new growth. If woody stems take over, you may want to remove and replace the plants or strongly prune back the plants to rejuvenate growth.
6. Propagation: Thyme ground cover can be propagated from seed or division. To divide your creeping thyme, pick a nice, healthy plant with lots of stems growing from the base. A one- to two-year-old plant works best and will live longer than older specimens. Dig up the entire plant, being careful not to damage the root ball. Gently tear or cut the plant in as many pieces as you require making sure that each piece has adequate roots attached. Plant each new piece into its new growing position between stepping stones or as a ground cover, and water well.
By following these tips, you can successfully grow and maintain thyme ground cover in your garden or landscape. Not only will it add beauty and texture to your space, but it will also deter deer from munching on your plants.
Other Deer-Resistant Ground Covers To Consider
While thyme is a great option for deer-resistant ground cover, there are many other plants to consider as well. Here are some other deer-resistant ground covers to consider for your garden:
1. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum): This low-growing herb is prized for its thick, mat-forming growth and the blanket of color its blooms create. It’s tolerant of full sun and easy to maintain, making it a great option for ground cover. Creeping thyme has a strong scent that makes it the perfect ground cover to deter deer.
2. Japanese Sedge (Carex marrowii): This true sedge grows in a low mound with long-bladed leaves similar to grass. Japanese sedge loves moisture and is suitable to plant around ponds and water features. Japanese sedge cultivars are easily maintained deer-proof groundcovers.
3. Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis): This attractive herbaceous perennial has circular leaves with scalloped borders. The yellow flowers last several weeks, and the plant reaches heights of 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm.). It’s easily grown from seeds and prefers partial shade. Lady’s mantle can be grown in full sun; however, leaf scorch can occur.
4. Junipers: Junipers have many different uses, including ground covers, accent plants, topiaries, and privacy screens. They repel deer because of the volatile oils in their needles, they are also drought tolerant and have few pest problems.
5. English Ivy: English Ivy is a fast-growing vine that can be used as a ground cover or as a climbing plant. It’s an evergreen plant that is easy to grow and maintain, and it’s also deer-resistant.
6. Snow-in-Summer: Snow-in-summer is a low-growing perennial with silvery-gray leaves and small white flowers that bloom in early summer. It’s drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, making it a great option for ground cover.
7. Purple Coneflower: This perennial flower is known for its striking purple petals and large, cone-shaped center. It’s a hardy plant that’s easy to grow and maintain, and it’s also deer-resistant.
8. Mexican Hat Coneflower: This wildflower has yellow petals that droop down to form a cone shape, giving it its unique name. It’s a hardy plant that’s easy to grow and maintain, and it’s also deer-resistant.
9. Russian Sage: Russian Sage is a tall perennial with silvery-gray leaves and spikes of lavender-blue flowers that bloom in late summer. It’s drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, making it a great option for ground cover.
While no plant is 100% deer-resistant, these ground covers are known to be less attractive to deer and can help protect your garden from damage. Applying commercial deer repellents during times of food scarcity may provide additional protection to your ground covers.
Conclusion: Is Thyme Ground Cover The Right Choice For Your Garden?
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, attractive ground cover that is also deer-resistant, thyme ground cover may be the right choice for your garden. Not only does it repel deer, but it also adds a pleasant aroma to your garden and can be used in cooking.
However, it’s important to note that no plant is completely deer-proof. If deer are hungry enough, they may still nibble on your thyme plants. Additionally, thyme ground cover may not thrive in areas with heavy foot traffic or where the soil is not well-draining.
Overall, thyme ground cover is a great option for those looking to add some greenery to their garden without worrying about deer damage. Its hardy nature and resistance to pests make it a popular choice for many gardeners.