I have sunflowers that are starting to flower .[ Lemon Queen, Busy Bee, Sunspot, Autumn Beauty, and Evening Sun ] I have been protecting them from rabbits and deer by use of repellant spray, AND a 7 foot plastic mesh fence-enclosure, but I would like to remove the fence-enclosure at some point.. and let the flowers' beauty be fully exposed. I could continue the use of the repellant spray. At what point in growth/ flowering does the likelihood of ravishing of the foliage diminish sufficiently to go ahead and run the risk. I hope to have them flower fully, then develop their seeded heads, and let them stand naturally for birds, especially, ( and other critters ) to eat the seeds from the heads as they remain standing in. place.
Livingston County Michigan
That's a difficult question to answer. I imagine that the tough stalks of late-season sunflower would be less attractive to rabbits than the tender shoots that come up in the spring. Deer will try to taste almost anything; the world is their buffet. Even if they don't like what they ate, the damage is done. In short, I think there's always a risk when it comes to deer.
You might try taking the fence down, continue using the sprays, and see what happens. If you lose the sunflowers, then you'll know better for next year.