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Future Deer Hedge or Natural Nuisance?

Nothing says Nature’s wisdom like a sweet smelling citrus built like a prison wall.

I happend upon a hardy citrus plant that functions as a 2 ft wide and 6 ft tall barbed wire hedge. This plant is being used by some homesteaders and permaculture types as deer repellent fencing for their gardens. It delivers a delicious citrus aroma and yields a bitter fruit that can be preserved/frozen and made into desserts like key lime pie.



The downside? It’s like barbed wire. You don’t want to get stuck in it. It’s also not so pretty in the winter. My wife took one look at it and distaste spread across her face.

She brightened up when I showed her a few photos of these plants in bloom.


* image by Roberto Verzo cc

Poncirus trifoliata-4

* image by Roberto Verzo

It’s yet to be determined whether we will actually use these plants to create a natural deer fence around our future garden. Our current experiment will only take up a small space and help us decide whether this plant is as useful as some have said.


  • How would we protect the entrance to our garden?
  • Do we even want a walled garden we can’t see from the outside?
  • Will the thorn bush look dampen our spirits or make the property look less inviting all winter?
  • Will we find sufficient use for the bitter citrus fruit or end up wasting the produce?

Our experiment begins in a week when we begin to plant. I’ll post again as we get a feel for how this experiment is going.

Some additional plant info per Wikipedia:

Trifoliate OrangePoncirus trifoliata (syn. Citrus trifoliata), is a member of the family Rutaceae, closely related to Citrus, and sometimes included in that genus, being sufficiently closely related to allow it to be used as a rootstock for Citrus. It differs from Citrus in having deciduous, compound leaves, and pubescent (downy) fruit.

It is native to northern China and Korea, and is also known as the Chinese Bitter Orange.

The plant is fairly hardy (USDA zone 5) and will tolerate moderate frost and snow, making a large shrub or small tree 4–8 m tall. Because of the relative hardiness of Poncirus, citrus grafted onto it are usually hardier than when grown on their own roots.

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