Saturday, August 6, 2011

Deer Country: New Systemic Repellent Tablet

Repellex Systemic tablets
(Photo: Repellex USA, Inc.)
Have you ever dreamed of giving your hostas browse-control pills once a year and then having never to worry about deer chowing down on the plants?

Can’t you imagine saying to your hostas, “Take two pills and call me next spring. Deer and other browsers won’t bother you again this year.”

You dreams have just come true.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on January 31, 2011, issued a Notice of Pesticide Registration for “Repellex Systemic Tablet.” The EPA Registration Number is 85493-2. On May 3, 2011, the EPA published the text that will be on the product labels for both commercial and residential uses of the systemic tablets.

Enough of the gobbledygook—oops, sorry, legalese. Here are the high points stated in the registration documents for the new plant tablets:

Not just for deer
(Logo supplied by Repellex USA, Inc.)
The tablets protect ornamental plants from these browsing animals: deer, rabbits, voles, moles, gophers, groundhogs, feral hogs, dogs, and cats. Active ingredient (0.3% or 0.213 g per tablet) is capsaicin and related capsaicinoids, or as you might say in the garden, the stuff that makes hot peppers hot. The tablets don’t repel birds and insects.

How do the tablets work? “Water dissolves this product in soil, where it is absorbed by roots and moves up through the plant. Once absorbed, rain or watering cannot wash off this internal protection. Even new growth is protected against animal browsing for the entire growing season. For complete results, the repellent must distribute throughout the plant. Depending on the size and health of the plant, this may take one week to one month (for very large plants). To protect plants during uptake, treat with a foliar spray such as Repellex® Deer & Rabbit Repellent.”

Note that there are two products mentioned in this paragraph, the new systemic tablets and a traditional spray-on repellent. This posting is about the systemic tablets, not the spray, which must be reapplied periodically to your plant leaves over the growing season.

Obviously the new tablets can’t be used in your veggie garden or fruit orchard: “Avoid contact of pesticide with roots, foliage, stems, and fruit of all crops intended for consumption because unpleasant taste will result.”

Application: “Place tablets in soil or growing medium of plant. Position 2-3 inches away from root crown, and push 1-3 inches below the soil surface. When more than one tablet is applied at once, evenly space them around the plant. Activate the application with irrigation or natural rainfall. Do not over water. For containerized plants, use enough water to wet the potting soil thoroughly without causing water to flush out from the bottom of the container.”

Application rate is based on the sum of the height and width of a plant. A plant that’s 3-feet wide and 3-feet tall would need six tablets. The label explains that fast-growing plants may need more than one application per year.

Cost: The company website currently lists several size bottles of tablets (30, 150, 300). Prices range from 40¢ a tablet in the smallest bottle to 33.3¢ a tablet in the larger sizes, with even larger bottles to be added later to the product line. If you have large numbers of plants, the cost may be considerable but the convenience and effectiveness irresistible.

This posting is your notice that this new type of deer repellent—a systemic tablet—is now in the market place.  It's likely we'll hear and read a lot about this new repellent tablet between now and Gardening Year 2012.

By following the links below, you’ll see (1) the EPA Registration Notice, (2) the EPA document that includes the text that will be on the product label, and (3) the Repellex USA, Inc.’s website, where you can see what the company says about its new product, which was developed at the University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute. The tablets are a derivative of technology used in human and animal medical treatments.

To see the January 31, 2011, EPA Notice of Pesticide Registration, CLICK HERE.

To access the EPA May 3, 2011, document that includes the Master Labels for Repellex Systemic Tablets for both commercial and residential uses, CLICK HERE. Note: You’ll have to skim several pages into the document before you get to the good stuff.

To access the Repellex USA, Inc., website, CLICK HERE.


  1. Great article Bob. I look forward to the upcomming test in your yard. Especially, the results in late fall and winter.

    The best results will probably be attained by application of the chemical in early spring, when plants are making rapid growth and uptaking lots of water and nutrients. Like all chemicals, proper dosage will be important.

  2. Appreciated the article...can't wait for Spring!! I will definitely be a customer. Hey, we should buy stock in this company!!

    Do you happen to know whether we can still use Holly Tone and other plant foods along with Repellex?? I usually apply Holly Tone and Systemic Advance to my plants in the Spring to keep aphids and other diseases from my shrubs. So, was wondering if Repellex would work together with these other applications? If you have any wisdom on this matter, let me know. Thanks.