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We Had A Very Cold Winter And The Deer Ate…

Steve Asked

We had a very cold winter and the deer ate 55 mature junipers down to the stems. These plants were 4 feet, now they look like rose bushes. I was told to sprinkle some holly food on them, but the remaining green leaves seem to be all turning brown. Will these shrubs grow back or are they dead? I use them on a slope to hold back mud slides and they worked great, but now I’m trying to decide if I should replace them.

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Steve: Only time will tell if they are going to recover or not, but to be honest it does not sound good for your evergreens. Juniper is not a favorite among deer, but they will eat just about anything when food is scarce and it is certainly not unheard of for deer to consume a mass amount of juniper in one feeding. Unfortunately and fortunately as gardeners, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature and so are the deer when it comes to food availability during the winter months. As a general rule, evergreens do not usually replace any foliage that is damaged. Your junipers are definitely stressed and it seems as though they are continuing to decline in health. Feeding them is fine but there is no guarantee it will help them recover. It seems like a large planting area, so you might want to wait a couple weeks and see it if they show any signs of improvement, but more than likely they will need to be replaced. I am sorry that I do not have more encouraging news for you.

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