Autumn Crocus- A Weapon In The Battle Against Deer


The autumn crocus (Colchicum sp.) is one of two bulbous varieties of crocus plants that blooms from September to late October. These plants are very easy to grow and provide a nice flower when the rest of the garden is going dormant in preparation for winter.  In addition to adding beauty to the landscape, these little dynamos also deter deer.

The autumn crocus provides a twist on the normal cycle of flowering plants because in addition to their flowers blooming in the fall, those flowers come up without leaves. The leaves grow in the spring and then become dormant in the summer. The double-flowering varieties of the autumn crocus yield a bounty of purplish-pink or violet flowers, depending on the gardener’s preference.

The additional function of the autumn crocus is that it is toxic to deer, giving them intense pain in their stomach when ingested.  Gardeners in the know plant autumn crocus throughout the garden in order to keep deer out of the area.  However, note that the corms of this plant are poisonous to children, so it is important to prevent children from handling them. Autumn crocus is also poisonous to pets, so keep your four-footed friends out of the area containing these plants.

Many other trees, plants, and flowers that will deter deer, whether because they are toxic or contain aromatic foliage. Common herbs used for cooking such as chives, lavender, and basil may be planted in conjunction with autumn crocus in order to deter deer. Fuzzy foliage contained in black-eyed Susan or lamb’s ears will also cause deer to shy away.

Incorporate autumn crocus into your garden in order to make destructive deer steer clear. The flowers of the autumn crocus will provide a nice compliment to the other plants, flowers, and vegetables within the garden. At the same time, this plant will be doing its job of keeping those other items safe and unharmed by hungry deer.

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