Because many of us live in the suburbs we share our environment with local wildlife, from squirrels to skunks and the mischievous raccoons, but none of these critters can cause as much irreparable damage to our gardens as this one: the deer.
Deer are beautiful, curious, creatures and a nice sight to see; unless of course they are ravaging the new plants in your garden! It is quite difficult to defend your garden against these agile creatures as they are able to jump over six foot high fences and are unpredictable as to when they strike -be it the middle of the day or while you are sound asleep at night.
Many articles have been written saying that the best defense is designing a garden with plants that deer don’t like to eat, but there is no certainty that a plant is absolutely “deer resistant” because deer will nibble on just about anything especially if they are hungry or thirsty. Also, it would seem that deer show difference preferences depending on location. We have found that a plant that doesn’t get eaten in Hillsborough may get devoured in Portola Valley. It is important to remember that deer are creatures of habit, they have the same trails that they walk daily/nightly and their mothers teach them at a young age which plants to eat or not.
That being said here is a list of plants that we have had success with against deer browsing:
|Agastache aurantiaca ‘Apricot Sunrise’ – orange hummingbird mint
Teucrium chameadrys – trailing germander
Lavandula angustifolia – English lavender
Mimulus ‘Peach Hybrid’ – sticky monkeyflower
Salvia clevelandii ‘Allen Chickering’ – Allen Chickering sage
|Carex testacea – orange-leaved sedge
Festuca californica – California fescue
Muhlenbergia rigens – deer grass
Ferns and Shrubs
|Woodwardia fimbriata – giant chain fern
Rhamnus californica ‘Eve Case’ – coffeeberry
Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’ – dark star California lilac
Penstemon, Lamium, Campanula, Bacopa and Epimedium are on many of my numerous “deer resistant” lists. I recently planted a bed for a client who wanted it to look “like a bouquet” in serious deer country. I’m not sure they actually ate the epimedium, but they trampled it to death while they were consuming all the other plants! Isn’t our work fun?
For a garden adjacent to the one above, I’m sticking to grasses, smelly plants and succulents with fuzz or prickles!
Thanks for your list.
Hi Claudia. Thank you for sharing your plant/deer successes. I will have to try Epimedium- I love the flowers. It’s so funny what we do to please our clients. Wink!
I have salvia bushes, (huge) which are blooming all over my property. We have an unfenced acre at the base of Mt Diablo, and the deer wander through in family groups every day. But they never touch the salvia or lavender! I’ve also had good luck with most scented geraniums.