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gailcalled's avatar

For those of you in the northeastern US who garden, can you recommend any flowering perennials that the deer won't eat?

Asked by gailcalled (54631points) June 25th, 2012

They have been particularly predacious this season, eating the tops of phlox, wild orange day lily buds, loosestrife, sunflowers, my new $$$ baptisia bush, the buds and tender shoots on pink double-knockout roses, and most of a supposedly really tough and thorny Hansa rugosa.

Even though I should simply skip the middleman and plant cash, I continue to hope. How does your garden grow?

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12 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Hire a bow hunter to trim the herd come hunting season. Heck the hunter would probably pay you.

ccrow's avatar

@gailcalled I had hosta for several years without them bothering it; about two days after I read an article that said hosta was one of their favorites, I woke to see that they had eaten all the leaves and left stems about six inches long. Guess they read the same magazine…
From what I’ve been able to find out, there are plants they don’t like as well as others, but it seems like they will at least sample just about anything. There are various repellent products out there, sprays and such. (I think most of them are decent people repellents as well!) I love the name of this site! I’ve heard the motion-activated sprinklers work but they are pretty pricey IMO.

amujinx's avatar

Here’s a list of plants and how resistant they are according to Rutgers. The only plants I could think of off the top of my head were boxwoods and viburnums, neither of which is helpful when looking for flowering perennials. I know a good plant guy at work, so I might have a few more selections for you after I get home later today as well, but I’m sure the list will probably cover any I do learn of.

Earthgirl's avatar

This has a lot of choices. I can’t say from personal experience how deer proof they ar though since I have never lived anywhere that it’s a problem. I see echinacea listed quite often and this site has coneflowers. I have a lime green coneflower by my front steps that took 2 years to grow and flower.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I plant a lot of garlic around my garden. I’m talking one plant every few inches. We have deer, rabbits, you name it, but they don’t go past the garlic.
@Earthgirl I love that place.

marinelife's avatar

Here is a list of deer-resistant plants:

Columbine, Astilbe, Tickseed, Bee Balm, Blackeyed Susan, Bleeding Heart, Campanula, Catmint, Purple Coneflower, Gaillardia, Gayfeather, Bluestem Joe-Pye-Weed, Cranesbill Geranium, Foxglove, Dianthus, Hellebore, Bugbane, Sunflower, Canytuft, Iris, Japanese Anemone, Lavender, Lupine, Monkshood, Pearly Everlasting, Penstemont, Peony, Poppy, Lungwort, Daffodil, Goldenrod, Speedwell, Yucca, Yarrow, Salvia, Russian Sage, Dedum, Shasta Daisy.

and ground covers: Ground Covers
Carpet Bugle, Lily-of-the-Valley, Periwinkle, Pachysandra, Lamb’s Ears, Lamium, “Silver Brocade” Artemisia, Snow-in-Summer, Thyme, Dead Nettle.

Good luck! If they are really hungry, deer will eat anything.

Here is one other option:

Plantskydd Deer & Rabbit Repellent, developed for the forestry industry, is becoming a more widely used deterrent. Don Doninger, who lives outside Livingston, is the area representative, and he offered insight into how the product works, and why it lasts up to six months during the dormant season. The product was developed in Sweden, where they found a way to sterilize and pulverize dried blood so that it can be put into a solution of water, with a vegetable oil binder, he explained. The product is now manufactured in the United States. Plantskydd should be applied to dry plants, and it will become rainfast in 12–16 hours in this dry climate. Of course, you need to keep your sprinklers turned off until it’s dry. In more humid sections of the country, it needs at least 24 hours to dry.

The product repels deer and other animals based on its smell, he explained. They think a predator is in the area, and that a kill has taken place, and they leave the area. The more product you put out, the more likely they are to leave. “If it’s wild, from a mouse to a moose, and it’s a plant-eater, it doesn’t like this stuff,” he said.


Earthgirl's avatar

@gailcalled I love gaillardia and just realized your name is in it as I wrote it! But I planted some a couple years ago and some critters got to them til I had nothing left! Maybe deer don’t like them but rabbits and squirrels must since that is mostly what I have around me i

gailcalled's avatar

I need to rephrase the question because, I too have lists of resistant and possibly resistant trees, shrubs, vines, ground-cover and perennials.

So I am looking for your personal experiences. In March of this year I would have said that my baptista and phlox were safe, but the early and too warm spring changed the deer’s eating habits. “Off to Gail’s for brunch” became the rallying cry.

For me, I have discovered that the early spring gardens do very well (lilies-of-the-valley, Jacob’s ladder, bleeding hearts, sweet woodruff, hellebores, columbines, brunneria, annual forget-me-nots, lung wort, Virginia harebells, lamium, myrtle, and the like.) The plants that bloom from mid-May to June seem to get hit the hardest.

They have even snipped the tops off of my monkshood, which is poisonous. And all the new coneflower hybrids with their cheerful crayola colors are fair game. Only the original boring pink ones are immune.

picante's avatar

From the Texas Hill Country, where the deer outnumber the people, the only perennial that seems to be off limits to the deer, even during the recent years of terrible drought conditions, is Salvia. While these look lovely to my Texas eye, where the gardening conditions aren’t ideal, I hope you find varieties that are pleasing to your visual palate, @gailcalled.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Prickly pear seems to be low on the list of what they will eat. They like it but the stickers keep them away most of the time.

SpatzieLover's avatar

To combat wildlife eating my garden, I feed them. One, we have feeders for the birds, ducks, squirrels-etc, along with many birdbaths to accomodate all heights.

Next, I planted trees, thicket and shrubs specifically for the deer and birds. So far in all of my years here I have only lost the occassional plant to a deer or rabbit (meaning one per year or less).

I make certain that any particularly tasty plants are planted between or behind less tasty plants. Generally though I buy things that both the wildlife and my family can enjoy together peacefully.

ccrow's avatar

Well, so far(touch wood) the plants right up next to the house have been ok. The eaten hostas were all at the edge of my yard, which borders woods. I like @Adirondackwannabe ‘s garlic method!

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