Gardenias are deer-proof

Beautiful deer-resistant plants 2021 - ideas - nc to do

A dozen gardening tuners you'll love but these four-legged shredders won't

"Lucifer" Crocosmia

Photo by Charles Hawes / Gap Photos

Deer are creatures of habit. Once they claim your yard as their favorite lunch spot, it is difficult to convince them of anything else. And while there are plenty of malodorous repellants and deterrents out there, perhaps the best solution is to just plant plants that deer don't like to eat.

Of course, that's easier said than done. Many garden valleywarts - including roses, daylilies, tulips, rhododendrons, and hostas - are also popular with deer. All of them produce the tender leaves and plump buds that the deer salt on. Plus, almost any plant can be tempting in the spring as it grows back gently. Even more difficult, taste buds vary by herd, so a plant that is bypassed in Missouri may be eaten in Minnesota. And in the face of a harsh winter or summer drought, these adaptable eaters are notorious for indiscriminate feasting.

Fortunately, however, deer have food preferences. Trading in damage-prone plants for plants with unpleasant tastes and textures is a surefire way to make a garden less deer-friendly. Typically, they bump into plants that are prickly, aromatic, fluffy, or interspersed with natural toxins. Prickly ornamental grasses and ferns laden with such toxins tend to go unharmed, as do some evergreen garden staples, including box trees, plum trees, and most hollies. But there are also many flowering perennials that do not attract deer. The following are some of the best that don't compromise on decorative beauty and performance.

Displayed: With their arched growth and their bright red flowers on stems up to 2 meters high, masses of 'Lucifer' crocosms are spectacular. Planted in spring, these bulbs bloom in late summer. Deer generally stay away from their strappy grassy leaves.

Use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find the zone for your city and determine which plants will thrive in your yard.

'Green Halo' peony

Photo by Nova Photo Graphik / Gap Photos

Paeonia lactiflora 'Green Halo'

Peonies are valued for their lavishly layered petals in typical pink, red and white tones. They are also extremely drought tolerant, cold resistant, and not popular with deer who find the foliage and stems too fibrous.
OUR PICK: We love the ruffled green halo for its apple green skirt (although some gardeners complain that it lacks strength). Another madness: striped, pink and white “candy stripe”.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full sun and nutrient-rich, slightly alkaline, well-drained soil

'Tomato Soup' sun hat

Courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries

Echinacea 'tomato soup'

This native prairie blooms all summer. The hairy, aromatic foliage keeps deer off, as do the spiky seed heads loved by birds.
OUR PICK: Hot-red 'tomato soup' is one of the newer varieties that usually come sterile and in rainbow colors (purple blooming Echinacea purpurea free self-sows). Others noteworthy are gold-white 'Mellow Yellows' and lime-pink 'Green Envy'.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full to partial sun and dry to average, well-drained soils; will tolerate clay

"Patty's Plum" -Oriental poppy

Photo by Doreen Wynja

Papaver orientale 'Patty's Plum'

Deer usually transcend poppies, thanks to their thistle-like foliage and poisonous sap. But for the rest of us, its huge crumpled flowers with dark centers cannot be missed. Since both spring flowers and foliage die off, they are best populated with bushy summer bloomers such as asters or Russian sage.
OUR PICK: 'Patty's Plum' adds extra drama and blooms in a rare reddish purple.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full sun and fertile, well-drained soil

"Mango Popsicle" torch lily

Photo by Doreen Wynja

Kniphofia Popsicle ® 'Mango Popsicle'

It is surprising that long-flowering, fast-growing, undemanding torch lilies are less common. Deer will nibble on the flowers from time to time, but the inedible consistency of the grassy leaves usually prevents them from leafing.
OUR PICK: 'Mango Popsicle' has showy, long-lived, 30-inch tall flower spikes from June through frost.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full sun and average, well-drained soil

"Harlequin Gem" Hellebore

Photo by Doreen Wynja

Helleborus x hybridus Winter Jewels ® 'Harlequin Gemstone'

In late winter, these graceful forest flowers nod over evergreen clusters of leaves. However, because hellebore is poisonous, they may not be a good choice for pets and children.
OUR SELECTION: Garnet-colored 'Harlequin Gemstone' is a standout part of the Winter Jewels range, as is Chartreuse 'Jade Tiger' and 'Black Diamond'.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full to partial shade and well-drained soil

"Chuck Hayes" Gardenia

Photo by Doreen Wynja

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

Summer-blooming evergreen shrubs, gardenias are perfect foundation plantings, but also compact enough for containers. And while the strong perfume of their flowers captivates the people, it repels the deer.
OUR PICK: 'Chuck Hayes' is a cold-resistant strain that has pushed the boundaries of this southern classic. "Frostproof" is another.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full sun until partly sunnier and acidic, nutrient-rich, well-drained soil

'Robustissima' Japanese anemone

Photo by Clive Nichols / Gap Photos

Anemone x Hybrida 'Robustissima'

This underused perennial, with its delicate flowers and berry-like mauve-colored buds held on wiry stems over serrated leaves, is commonly classified as poisonous by deer.
OUR PICK: Light pink 'Robustissima' is a vigorous grower and one of the coldest winter hardy. If there is enough space for naturalization, it will bloom freely and attract pollinators until frost.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full to partial sun and moist, nutrient-rich, well-drained soil

'Walker's Low' catnip

Photo by Jerry Pavia

Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low'

This rampant, fast-growing ground cover exudes a characteristic mint scent of leaves and flowers, which, like its flaky structured leaves, repels deer.
OUR PICK: 'Walker's Low' is one of the best bloomers with tiny lavender blue flowers from April to September. It grows up to 3 feet wide and almost as high, but stays compact if the soil isn't too rich.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full to partial sun and dry to average, well-drained soil

'Sir Winston Churchill' daffodil

Photo by Nova Photo Graphik / Gap Photos

Daffodil 'Sir Winston Churchill'

In the Hirschland, the daffodil is one of the most reliable spring flower bulbs; The animals avoid all of their parts due to a natural toxin. Allow groupings to be naturalized in garden beds and forest edges for the best effect.
OUR PICK: 'Sir Winston Churchill' is an intensely fragrant, double-leaved variety that flowers with a bouquet of three to five smaller flowers per stem.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full sun and average, well-drained soil

'Lucifer' sword Lily

Photo by Doreen Wynja

Crocosmia x Curtonus 'Lucifer'

This flower bulb, which blooms in late summer, comes from South Africa and keeps the gardens going with its bright color, graceful, arched stems and strappy foliage that deter deer. Thanks to the tubular shape of the flower and the sweet nectar, hummingbirds are more common.
OUR PICK: That scarlet “Lucifer” is one of the higher varieties.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full to partial sun and moist, but well-drained soil

'Beverly Sills' Iris

Photo by Nicola Stocken / Gap Photos

Iris germanica 'Beverly Sills'

Easy to care for and reliable, the eye-catching iris flowers in almost any color. The sturdy, sword-like, semi-evergreen foliage may not be tasty to deer, but it remains attractive throughout the season.
OUR PICK: 'Beverly Sills' is an award-winning, fast-spreading strain that is loaded with ruffled flowers in an unexpected pale coral hue.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full sun and average, well-drained soil

'Lemon Meringue' Fake Indigo

Courtesy of Mt. Cuba Center

Baptisia 'Lemon Meringue'

This native, drought tolerant wildflower has a compact vase shape with attractive leaves throughout the season. All parts of the beautiful fake indigo are poisonous to deer (and other animals). But butterflies are drawn to the spring blooms.
OUR PICK: The 3 foot tall spiers of the stout lemon meringue are particularly eye-catching and have blue-gray buds that bloom in yellow.
WHAT IT NEEDS: Full sun to partly sunny and acidic, dry to average, well-drained soil

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