Gardeners who live in heavily deer-populated areas know just how frustrating it can be to see their hard work trampled and eaten by hungry, roaming deer. Fortunately, there are numerous steps gardeners can take to keep deer at bay.
One of the best options is to incorporate plants that deer don’t like into the layout of your garden. Below are 10 such suggestions. Some are annual (die after growing for one season) while others are perennial (regrow on their own every spring).
Vinca (Catharanthus) is a hardy annual plant that is drought-tolerant and doesn’t taste good to deer. It grows well in hot and dry places, and happily, you’ll see blooms all summer long with this plant. Find it in numerous colors from red and pink to purple and white.
2. Dusty Miller
To offset the dark greens and vibrant colors of your garden, dusty miller’s (Senecio) silvery white appearance is the ideal choice. Deer tend to avoid eating plants with fuzzy leaves, like dusty miller. This annual is simple to plant and tolerates drought easily. It grows low, so it’s great as a perimeter plant.
3. Vinca Vine
Vinca vine (Vinca major) is an evergreen perennial that is perfect for gardeners who don’t have a lot of time for fussing. It does well in nearly any climate and can easily withstand drought. These vines are low to the ground and spread rapidly, making them an excellent groundcover.
Looking for more groundcover? Bugleweed (Ajuga) is practically foolproof and doesn’t taste good to deer. This perennial is fast-growing and is available in a wide range of lovely leaf colors. Additionally, blue flowers bloom from late spring to early summer; it’s easy to care for and can spread wherever you want it.
Boxwood (Buxus) encompasses hundreds of shrubs and small trees and is likely the most popular shrub in America. These shrubs do great lining pathways or surrounding your garden. It can withstand full sun and partial shade. Trim them into classic spheres or boxes, or get even more creative — they take on whatever shape you desire.
6. Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) plants are small conifers (bearing needles and cones) that can add height to your garden and serve as a framing feature. But don’t worry: their cone-like shape won’t get too high — they’re dwarves (six to eight feet) — and you can enjoy them year-round.
Some of the largest and most beautiful perennial flowering plants are peonies (Paeonia). They don’t require a lot of tending, but their fluffy blooms do like full sun or partial shade. When planting near other flowers, they do best next to roses and irises. Plus, deer usually don’t like the taste of peonies.
The lovely purple, pink or white blooms of lavender (Lavandula) are an excellent addition to any garden. Like peonies, lavender is another perennial. Plant it in the ground or containers. Deer don’t like to eat lavender plants because of their fragrance. Their neat forms are easy to grow, but they prefer full sun and plenty of air circulation.
9. Anise Hyssop
Anise hyssop (Agastache) is another ideal perennial plant. The erect shoots have fuzzy lavender blue spikes at the tops, and on average, they’ll grow three to five feet tall, making them great for borders. Their flowers also attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Even humans can eat them. Deer avoid eating anise hyssop plants because of their strong, licorice scent.
Finally, there are daffodils (Narcissus). These reliable perennials are often the first to bloom every spring. Their cheerful flowers can grow almost anywhere, and their straight and orderly leaves frame the blooms nicely. They’ll do well with full sun or partial shade. Daffodils are toxic to deer, so they won’t eat them.
If your deer problem is severe, plant these 10 plants in a pseudo-perimeter around the deer-alluring plants in your garden. The strong scent of these “deer deterrents” will disguise the others and leave deer uninterested in pursuing your garden for food.
Looking for more ways to stop deer? Check out 5 easy ways to deter deer from your garden.