I’m living in a new neighborhood and have inherited a garden quit different from anything I’ve had before. The neighborhood is beautiful and the landscape is focused primarily on native woodland plants. In addition to our wonderful landscape we inherited something else…dozens of deer. Our new neighborhood is brimming with deer and other wildlife. So I have been studying all about deer resistant plants for both container gardening and landscaping.
The deer in our neighborhood are so used to humans they will come right up to the front porch and eat the flowers there. Oh the nerve. What’s a girl to do? Well the deer were here first…so I need to adapt to them.
My friend Kim, who is a local Master Gardener, came over and brought me some lists of some of the tried and true plants and remedies to turn deer away from my yard. There are a lot of plants deer won’t eat, although even some of those they might take a nibble.
After my help from Kim and lots of research on Pinterest I headed off to my local nursery and stocked up on lots of plants that are supposedly deer resistant and I bought a couple of other things to try as a gamble.
I planted eight pots of flowers, planted four pots of tomatoes, and added several things in the ground. After three weeks here are my success stories and the fails from A – Z;
I planted 12 astilbe in the ground. The deer took a few nibbles in the beginning, mostly just nipping off the new flower shoots, but have essentially ignored the astilbe ever since. However, the astilbe is planted around a small Japanese Maple, and the deer keep walking on the astilbe to nibble on the Japanese Maple.
Last fall I put eight peonies in the ground near the front of my house. The deer do not have any interest in them and the plants are flourishing beautifully. I think I will add some more.
I planted a couple of mugwort in a pot last year but they got so big I moved them to the ground this year. Mugwort has a strong odor of curry and the deer stay away. It’s not my favorite either but I’ll learn to live with it. I’ve grouped it with some lavender.
Another great plant the deer find offensive is lavender. Deer usually will stay away from most herbs, and although we love the smell and texture of lavender, deer do not. I now have six lavender in the ground, all healthy.
We inherited many mature Rhodies and were gifted some more from a neighbor and the deer have no interest in these beautiful and easy shrubs.
I got a little carried away at the plant store and, without checking my list, picked up three hosta to go under my maple tree where we removed some unsightly heather. Only later did I read hosta is deer candy. So, the hosta are there, and so far the deer haven’t eaten them but I am prepared for that to happen. Then I will try something else – maybe Bleeding Heart.
I put two Bleeding Heart (one of my favorite shade plants) in the tiny garden near our front door and they are doing great. For as delicate as Bleeding Heart is I am surprised the deer don’t like it, but apparently they hate it. More Bleeding Heart coming up.
I have a healthy Shasta Daisy in a pot from last year and the deer ignore it completely. I’ve added some Dahlias around this daisy for color and contrast.
It’s been years since I grew dahlias and this year I bought several from a local dahlia farm (Papa Paul’s Dahlia Farm). I put them all in pots. As of this writing they are emerging strong and healthy and so far the deer walk right by. I’ll need to wait until later in the summer to see if they ignore the blooms.
Canna is one of my favorite plants and I have four in two different pots. The deer are staying away so far. The other great thing about canna is it overwinters well in the Pacific Northwest.
I actually am not a huge fan of day lily, but they make the list of deer resistant plants so I have added two yellow ones to one of my pots. So far, no deer.
This purple flower falls into the deer resistant category of “usually”. So I put a nice healthy one in the same pot as the day Lily. The deer immediately nibbled off the tips of each oncoming bloom. Since then I have not seen any more damage. Fingers crossed.
One of my all time favorite flowers of summer, delphinium also falls into the “usually” deer resistant category. Last summer the deer ate all my delphinium, so this year I planted three in a pot closer to the house. So far they have taken a nibble on the petals of one of the plants but nothing more.
I planted several cone flower in with the canna and a Black Eyed Susan from last year. These have been great performers in my pots and the deer have been pretty ambivalent.
In addition to the lavender I have some sage, lemon thyme and oregano scattered around my yard and pots. I think I’ll intersperse a few more herbs like mint and parsley, as herbs certainly seem to work to offend the deer and keep them away.
My four pots of tomatoes and one pot of lettuce are just outside my kitchen and I have never seen a deer come up close to this door. All these plants are doing great.
I’ve never tried zinnia from seed before, but the odor and texture are a big turn off for deer (I’m sure you see a pattern here) so I sprinkled zinnia seeds in the ground and in one of my pots. I haven’t seen them even sprout yet, but I’m hoping for good color from these by midsummer.
That’s My Garden
Since we travel most of the year (well hopefully that will continue when the pandemic is over) I need a yard that doesn’t need a lot of care, but offers the summer color I crave when we are home. I will continue to experiment with deer resistant plants, and occasionally give a deer or two a good talking to when they visit.
There is a ton of information available online for deer resistant plants and how to approach gardening with wildlife. You can also try some old tactics. Irish Spring apparently works and I have some hanging near some plants, as does having your husband pee around plants you want the deer to stay away from. We haven’t tried that yet LOL. You can also purchase chemicals designed to keep the deer out. As much as possible I’d like to stay away from the chemicals, and instead learn how I can live peaceably with these rather annoying, outrageously hungry, but also beautiful creatures.
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