As the weather begins to get nicer and the snow recedes off the mountain, it’s time to get planting! And if you’re like me, you must take into consideration planting things that aren’t a dinner bell to the pesky deer. The last thing you want to do is attract more of them to come and munch on your plants, they do enough damage already!
I have found that there really are no “safe” deer plants; if they are hungry, they will try just about anything! At my house, the deer even come up onto my porch to sample my flowers!
There are a few plants that they prefer not to eat and seem to have a better survival rate. Daffodils for instance, seem to be a pretty safe bet against the deer, and they are easy keepers since they come back every year and add beautiful color in the spring! Same is true for hyacinths; these two flowers are very aromatic and are also toxic to deer. Poppies, bleeding hearts, and bearded iris don’t seem to be as tasty either. Peonies are a beautiful option, but occasionally, I get a curious deer who takes a sample of the flowers, usually just one nibble though!
If you’re going for the greener look, lily of the valley plants never disappoint. These can be slightly invasive, however. Lavender plants deter deer and many people plant lavender or marigolds (orange variety) around their garden areas as a natural deer deterrent. More options include garden verbena and snapdragons. If you are looking for a shrub option: boxwood, juniper, or lilacs are great choices. There are also many different varieties of dwarf spruces including Alberta, Norway or blue, which provide excellent landscaping options and stay smaller in size. Deer are not fans of prickly foods such as the needles of these dwarf plants.
Like I mentioned before, all these plants are just recommendations because if a deer is hungry enough, they will sample anything. However, these plants have had a slightly better survival rate.
Most of the potted plants from nurseries come with labels about growing conditions and usually indicate if they are deer resistant. There is nothing worse than spending significant time and money on planting a beautiful landscape and having deer come through in just one night and mow it all down.