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Agriculture Today

Deer-proof zinnias

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South Texas Gardener
July 11, 2012 | 3,743 views | Post a comment

Q. Will deer eat zinnias? We are looking for a summer blooming plant that we can plant in our front garden bed that will be left alone by the deer.

A. Zinnias do appear on some deer-proof lists. They are not a favorite deer food in my neighborhood but the deer will eat them during a drought. If I spray the zinnias with a product like Liquid Fence every week, they seem to pass them up.

Other deer-proof blooming plants for summer color include lantana, thyrallis, angelonia, vinca, salvia, esperanza, and four o’ clocks.

Q. Is there an organic fire ant control that you recommend?

A. “Conserve” with spinosad seems to be effective for fire ants. Follow label instructions.

Q. We feed the birds and have for years. Last week we saw a roadrunner near the feeder grab and kill a house finch. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

A. Yes, this winter we had a roadrunner that picked off English sparrows on the ground that were picking up remnants under a suet feeder. I have also heard that they will catch hummingbirds feeding on low blooms in the landscape. They are interesting and opportunistic predators!

Q. We let our emerald zoysia lawn go unmowed for a month and now the mower has left big scalp areas. Will it recover? What is the solution?

A. Emerald zoysia is tough to mow. The easiest thing is to use a reel mower. I had emerald zoysia and used a rotary mower but kept it very sharp and tried to mow every week even if it did not seem to need it. You may need to do the same. The scalps will eventually heal. Emerald zoysia is worth the effort.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s director of water resources. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at

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