Deer are famous for their fascination for tender greens and young plants, which can cause quite a damage to our gardens.
While some maple tree subspecies are too sweet for them to resist, others do not make it to their list of preferred meals.
In this article we will see If Deer will eat Japanese Maple even they if are often sold as deer resistant trees.
Do Deer Eat Japanese Maples?
As spring starts, Japanese maples become an excellent source of food for deer and they will eat Japanese maples, but they won’t be so attracted to them during fall or winter. Among the 128 species, deer seem to love the forage of Sugar and Red maples the most. However, the changing burgundy leaves and thin branches of Japanese maples do not seem to be a deer favorite.
Deer are not picky eaters, especially during the winter when food is scarcer than at any other season, but their taste buds have particular preferences to some trees, fruits, and leaves.
In general, deer prefer those trees that bear nuts and fruits. Experts could not categorize or identify a pattern between favorites because it varies depending on the season. They can love a tree in the summer and hate it by winter.
During spring and summer deer will eat the moss, leaves, and branches, but during fall and winter deer will eat the bark or the fallen seeds.
If you want to Protect your Japanese Maple from Deer it would be wise to use deer Repellent sprays.
So, Are Japanese Maples Deer Resistant?
Not exactly, even when they are often sold as deer resistant trees. Truth be told, deer-resistant plants are just those deer will not choose to eat if some better options are available. Deer will eat Japanese maples and other resistant plants, especially on dry periods of food, when they will eat whatever is on the way.
Japanese maples are not a deer first food option, but newly planted and young Japanese maples are at the most risk of being eaten by a deer, especially by curious fawns that are exploring different food sources.
Deer will nibble on fresh leaves, sometimes enough to defoliate a young tree, and they will try to get their hooves on the lowest tender branches of your beloved maple.
Do Deer Eat Dwarf Japanese Maples?
Since Acer Platinums are not deer favorite meals, it is not common, but it can happen. Even so, more easily than with a regular Japanese maple. The size of dwarf maple also known as Wilson’s Pink Dwarf can be attractive for deer because they can easily access them. At just 2.4 feet tall deer will not need to struggle or jump to reach branches or higher young leaves.
Also Read: What Do You Feed A Baby Deer
What To Do If Deer Ate My Japanese Maple
Deer are adorable creatures, but they can cause significant damage to our landscapes. If a deer came too close the first thing we want to know is if the tree will survive or if it is doomed. That depends mainly on the tree species.
With Japanese maples, you have little to worry about because they are quite resistant, and even with some damage done they will make it through; but here are a couple of recommendations to follow in case a deer came too close:
Evaluate: The first recommendation is to assess the damage. Sometimes the damage is provoked by an insect or an illness, rather than by deer, so inspect the leaves. If a deer ate your tree, they will most likely chew the whole leave or complete halves of it, but leave the stems untouched. On the contrary, most insects will make holes on the leaves or eat just the corners.
The next step will depend on how damaged the leaves, the bark, or even the roots are. Trees are most likely to recuperate from any damage, but they might need a little help.
Remove: If deer left behind some buds, you have very little to worry about. Remove the chewed parts of the leaves–they will turn brown and die anyway- and wait for them to regenerate on their own. If you spot any, also trim any damaged branches and let time do its job.
Protect: Now that you’ve cleaned up the mess, you will probably want to avoid future deer attacks by protecting the Japanese maple with a deer fence, chemicals, Solar Deer repeller, or homemade remedies. We will talk about these later!
Note: Besides eating, deer can also cause some damage when they mark their territories. As warm seasons begin, male deer change their old antlers for new ones covered in a velvet coat.
By fall, this coat will dry out and start to itch, so deer need to scrape it off, which they will probably do by rubbing against the bark of a tree. This also helps them mark their territory for mating season, but the damage done to some trunks can be quite irreversible.
If the damage is not severe, it can take a few years, but the tree will make it and repair itself from its wounds. However, sometimes trees will die or become so brittle they will eventually break off.
How To Protect Japanese Maples From Deer
A hungry deer can be quite a headache for our beautiful gardens, most commonly around fall and winter when food is less available. While Japanese maples are considered deer resistant, they are not deer-proof, especially young ones. So, if you just got a new Acer palmatum here are some things you can do to prevent deer from attacking them:
Deer Fencing: Deer will not go through too much trouble to get their food unless they have to. It might not be the most aesthetic solution, but it is definitely the most recommended. Getting a chicken or heavy wire fence around–but far away- from the tree could make them struggle and search for snacks somewhere else. It is recommended for the fence to be at least 7 to 8 feet tall and to not have gaps bigger than 6×6 inches.
Fencing your Japanese maple will also protect your tree from deer rubbing.
Deer repellent: Some people suggest that odor deterrents keep deer away from our gardens. This solution requires constant usage because the effect will only last a few days. There are a lot of options in the market, but it is suggested to keep an eye on those that do not have too many chemicals in them—after all, we do not want to damage the innocent animal nor the tree. You can also try homemade repellent such as – fabric softener, garlic or rotten fish heads.
Deer distractions: Among the recommendations, it is to set up a couple of objects that will distract deer from getting too close. Reflective objects such as silver CDs or aluminium pie pans hanged on a string, so deer get startled when struck by the sunlight’s reflection; colored ribbons that blow with the wind so they spot movement or even motion-activated sprinklers or lights that will keep away many predators.
Deer sounds: Deer can be as easily frightened with objects as with sounds. Using high-pitched objects such as whistles, wind chimes, radios or even electric wires might help.
What Other Animals Eat Japanese Maples
Japanese maples have more enemies than just our lovely Bambies. Mice, rabbits, and voles are bark-eaters and they can be pretty destructive; while squirrels love to chew or prune their teeth on Japanese maples and they also tend to tear the branches off to mark their territory.
Insects are also considered a threat. One renowned insect is the Japanese beetle. A shiny green beetle that loves to feed on Acer Platinums. These pests appear in the summer and can be quite a nightmare because they will devour the foliage in sizeable groups, leaving just the skeleton behind. They also chew on the roots of the trees, reducing water flow.
Also read: Do Deer Eat Butterfly Bushes
Will Deer Eat Regular Maple Trees (Not Japanese)
Yes, deer adore feeding on most maple species. The sugar maple, the red maple, and the Silver maple make it to the top deer favorite meals!