Deer Resistant Perennials

White tailed deer are beautiful animals, graceful and elegant when still or in motion.  But, to a farmer, they can be a significant financial problem; to a motorist they can pose serious danger; and to a flower gardener they can be destructive pests.

 

This is a problem humans have created.  Deer thrive in “edge habitats,” places where different types of vegetation meet.  “Edges” offer food, cover, travel paths and easy escape routes.  Suburban landscapes are perfect “edge habitats” and also provide the bonus of well-watered, well-fertilized banquet tables of flowers and plants. How is a gardener to cope with these adversaries?  A blend of deer-resistant plantings can all help to maintain some semblance of a garden.  Deer-resistant planting is as inexact science at best.  There are few hard-and-fast rules because deer behavior and taste preferences vary from place to place, and even season to season.  The following plant tips should be considered when dealing with deer in the garden.

 

Deer do not like flowers and plants with a spicy taste.

 

Aromatic foliages are usually ignored.

 

Plants with fuzzy foliage such as Lamb’s Ear are usually passed by.

 

Various plants, such as Monkshood and Digitalis, are poisonous to deer.

 

Avoid using spring bulbs; with the exception of daffodils and alliums, they are considered a ‘delicacy’ by most deer.

 

Plants with needles or spines, such as spruce, holly, and barberry are usually passed by

 

. The following is a list of perennials most likely avoided by deer.  Remember, deer will eat these plants if no other food is available in the area.

 

Achillea – Yarrow

 

Aconitum – Monkshood

 

Anaphalis – Pearly Everlasting

 

Anchusa – Bugloss

 

Anemone japonica – Japanese Anemone

 

Artemesia – Wormwood

 

Aruncus – Goatsbeard

 

Asclepias – Butterfly Weed

 

Astilbe – False Spirea

 

Campanula spp. – Bellflower

 

Centaurea Montana – Bachelor Buttons

 

Cimicifuga – Bugbane

 

Convallaria – Lily of the Valley

 

Delphinium – Larkspur

 

Dicentra spp. – Bleeding Heart

 

Digitalis – Foxglove

 

Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower

 

Erigeron – Fleabane Daisy

 

Euphorbia spp. – Spurge

 

Gypdophilia spp. – Baby’s Breath

 

Geranium spp. – Cranesbill

 

Helianthus spp. – Perennial Sunflower

 

Iris spp. – Iris varieties

 

Kniphofia – Red Hot Poker

 

Lavendula – Lavender

 

Liatris – Gayfeather

 

Lychnis – Maltese Cross

 

Macleaya – Plume Poppy

 

Monarda – Bee Balm

 

Paeonia – Peony

 

Penstemon – Bearded Tongue

 

Perovskia – Russian Sage

 

Phlox Subulata – Creeping Phlox

 

Polemonium spp. – Jacob’s Ladder

 

Salvia spp. – Hardy Sage

 

Stachys lanata – Lamb’s Ear

 

Stokesia – Stoke’s Aster

 

Tanacetum – Painted Daisy

 

Thalictrum – Meadow Rue

 

Tradescantia – Spiderwort

 

Trollius – Globeflower

 

Verbena spp. – Verbena varieties