Bambi may be pretty to look at, but deer can be devastating to your landscaping. As natural habitats shrink, deer are forced to infringe on areas all over and it seems no city or community is safe.
Although you will never find deer proof plants, many are deer resistant. Before I go any further, be advised if the deer are hungry enough, they will chomp and try any of these plants. It's not a fool proof list, but many have had success with the following plants.
Let's start with annual flowers first. Deer dislike flowers with leaves of a bristly texture that deliver a nasty taste to a hungry deer's mouth. Heliotrope, sunflower, and zinnias offer this rough texture that deer avoid. Persian shields and ageratum are also good choices.
Vining moonflowers and morning glory vines planted on fences offer all season blooms and will help to stave off deer. Cool-season bloomers larkspur (Consolida), sweet William (Dianthus), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and lobelia (Lobelia erinus) all are reported to be deer resistant annuals. Heat-loving annuals that deer tend to ignore include lantana, Cosmos sulphureus, angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia) and summer snapdragon (Angelonia) and zinnias.
Another fun deer resistant annual that is a star performer in the summer garden is four o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa). This time-telling bloomer adds a shrubby form to the garden and opens colorful flowers daily around 4 p.m. Two edible flowers that you can grow to grace your mealtimes—calendula and nasturtium—fall into the deer resistant annuals category. It’s not surprising that deer dislike nasturtium, with its peppery flavors. (these comments courtesy of Julie Martens Forney)
As for shrubs, boxwood is the number one deer resistant plant I sell. Following that are barberry, butterfly bush, blue mist spirea, blue fescue, winterberry, bayberry, dwarf alberta spruce, willows, yucca, junipers, pieris japonicas, leucothoe and viburnum. French Lilacs seem to be ok as well. Potentilla and varieties of pines which are somewhat sappy when munched on are deer resistant plants. Deer do not like prickly, sappy, pungent smelling plants.
As for perennials, many are deer resistant. Catmint, yarrow, aster, astilbe, lenten rose, lily of the valley, foxglove, fern, bluebells, snow on the mountain, baby's breath,iris lavender, lemon balm, bee balm, daffodils, lamb's ear, thyme sweet woodruff and bleeding hearts are some of the plants deer stay away from. Bergenia forget me nots, toad lily, geranium rozanne, brown eyed susans, butterfly weed and coreopsis are a few more. Several other varieties are available as well.
As for the myriad of products out for repelling deer, I like only four. Number 1 is Deer Screen. Deer screen contains meat meal which has an odor deer
do not like. They are little tea bags which you hang from or around plants you want to keep deer away from. The beauty of this product is, the active ingredient is
reactivated each rain and can last 3-6 months. We sell tons of this and have great success.
For those who want to create a barrier with a granular around their desirable plants, Deer Scram works well. Again, meat meal is the main ingredient. Simply shake
around plants and keep deer away...
Another product, MIlorganite, has been around forever. Sold as a fertilizer to green your yard a 30# bag goes a long way. Priced around 17 dollars give or take,
this activated sewage sludge from Milwaukee not only will give you the deepest green,almost black lawn, it is also a great deer deterrent. Simply take a handful and
broadcast around the area you wish to protect. My landscape designer loves deer and feeds them daily. He also has a garden less than 50 feet away. Deer
do not touch his plants. Once to two twice a week he throws out a handful and deer stay away.
The final product is feather meal. Apparently, deer and turkeys are natural adversaries in the wild. One turkey will defend its ground from many deer. The scent of the feathers deter deer from coming
around. Again, just dust around plants and deer will stay away. Plus as an added bonus, feather meal is a great organic fertilizer which
slowly releases and nourishes your plants.
What I have learned is to keep alternating products so deer do not get accustomed to one particular thing and thus renders it ineffective. After rains, some products will need to be re-applied. These products are not 100% guaranteed to perform but many have had success...
If you have not had a visit from a deer yet, consider yourself lucky. When they do come to see you, be prepared. They can seriously be devastating to your yard
and garden. Keep battling with new ammunition and sooner or later you can win the war!!