Seems to happen at my house every year without fail. Just as soon as my garden is at its peak in early summer, the deer find their way into my yard and being nibbling at all those lovely blossoms. Short of building a fence, the next best defense against these pesky creatures is adding deer-resistant varieties of plants to your beds and borders. You can still have beautiful blooms and interest in the garden while keeping pests at bay. Here’s a few of our favorite deer resistant choices.
Best known for their fragrant white flowers, gardenias are heat-loving evergreen shrubs that are happily unattractive to deer. Most gardenias grow into a round shape with dark green, glossy leaves and white, fragrant flowers that bloom from mid-spring into summer. Although once a mostly shade loving plant, there are varieties now that thrive in full sun, making these a wonderful plant option for foundation plantings.
A North American wildflower, Gaura is now widely grown across the continent. Plants bloom for many weeks, with loose sprays of small flowers. In the breeze these move constantly, looking like a cloud of small butterflies. Although Gaura may not always winter reliably, plants flower for the entire summer and fall, so consider using it even as an annual in colder winter regions. New plants will often appear from self sown seedlings. Superb in containers, the subtle color blends easily in borders. Drought tolerant once established.
Lantana’s aromatic flower clusters are a mix of red and orange florets. Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. Many cultivars display multiple colors within each two inch wide disc shaped flower head. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Use lantana as annuals or perennials in flowerbeds or containers. Spreading cultivars are attractive as groundcovers or trailing over containers and walls.
Creeping sedums, also commonly known as stonecrops, are among the most versatile, drought-tolerant, and easy-to-grow perennials. Renowned for their ability to spread quickly, these low growers keep weeds from taking hold and perform well in rock gardens, borders, and containers.
Coleus are prized for their colorful foliage which may combine shades of green, yellow, pink, red and maroon. New introductions of this popular annual have been selected for increased sun and heat tolerance. The brilliant and widely varied colors of coleus foliage make it a natural for use in summer bedding and as a color accent. Coleus also grows beautifully in containers, which can be used to highlight patios, porches and garden terraces.
Agastache, also known as Hummingbird Mint, are a showy, fragrant group of perennial herbs. The tubular flowers are borne in whorls all summer
long, and are very attractive to many species of insects and hummingbirds. All agastache species and cultivars have strong, square stems that hold up great in harsh weather conditions and laugh at heavy rain and extreme heat.
Salvia boasts tall wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers that produce a very showy display. This perennial earns its keep with fast-growing ways, beautiful blooms, and a flavor deer find distasteful. Once established, plants shrug off drought, although it’s wise to keep plants well-hydrated through the hottest parts of summer if you want a steady supply of supple foliage.
Lamb’s Ears is a low growing spreader with very fuzzy, pale, silvery gray-green foliage. They are grown primarily for the color and texture of their foliage, although the species does have flower spikes early in the season. Lamb’s Ears are often recommended for children’s gardens because of their soft feel.
Many people appreciate lavender for its fragrance, used in soaps, shampoos, and sachets for scenting clothes. The blossoms are also useful as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. The lavender plants themselves make a lovely small bushy shrub useful in beds, borders, and container plantings alike. Lavender plants will tolerate many growing conditions, but it thrives in warm, well-drained soil and full sun. Lavender is a tough plant and is extremely drought resistant, once established.
For more tips on growing deer-resistant plants in your area, stop by the garden center and speak with one of our friendly experts. We’re on hand seven days a week with answers for all your gardening questions. Hope to see you soon!