There are all kinds of ways to repel deer from the garden, ranging from potions made with garlic, hot sauce, and rotten eggs, to scare sprinklers and eight-foot fall fences. However, some of these solutions are ineffective, expensive, or distasteful enough to deter the gardener as much as the pests: after all, who wants to inhale the fragrance of rotten eggs among the otherwise sweet perfume of flowers? If you can't keep the deer away from the garden, you can plant flowers that don't appeal to deer. These ten choices include options for sun, shade, and all seasons.
01 of 10
With its delicate ferny foliage and appealing heart-shaped flowers that dangle from graceful, arching stems, bleeding heart plants may look like a deer menu item. However, neither deer, nor rabbits, nor heavy shade deters the spring blossom show of these old-fashioned favorites. Plant among hostas, which will fill in as bleeding heart foliage goes dormant for the summer.
02 of 10
It attracts butterflies, nourishes bees and wild birds, self-seeds in a non-aggressive way, and grows in sun or partial shade. Is there anything the versatile coneflower plant can't do? The many new varieties of coneflower on the market make it a designer's delight, but the common Echinacea purpurea is still a solid choice for informal gardens.
03 of 10
Not your average shade garden plant, the corydalis is noteworthy for its beautiful ferny foliage and long blooming period. Plants resemble bleeding hearts, but flower color selection includes yellow, purple, and blue varieties. Gardeners in areas with cool summers will have the best luck growing corydalis, where it can even become somewhat aggressive in moist soils.
04 of 10
Lance-leaf coreopsis plants are seldom browsed by deer, but you can plant threadleaf coreopsis with even greater confidence, as it rarely receives even a nibble by passing deer. 'Moonbeam' plants soared in popularity after recognition as Perennial Plant of the Year in 1992. Plant in full sun in average to poor soils.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
On the delicious spring bulb spectrum, daffodils are on the opposite end from tulips. Deer don't care for the milky sap, and neither do squirrels or rabbits. Daffodils have the added benefit of multiplying over the years, unlike tulips, which tend to dwindle in number each season. New exciting double forms and pinky-salmon colors make daffodils an essential part of any spring deer-proof garden.
06 of 10
What delights the olfactory senses of people is abhorrent to a deer. Both the foliage and the flowers of lavender emit the sweet perfume so beloved by potpourri makers, so plant enough to clip some bunches to hang around musty closets and stale rooms that can benefit from a scent boost. Give lavender plants full sun and sharp drainage for the healthiest plants.
07 of 10
Pulmonaria plants, with their quirky name and freckled foliage, are an unsung hero of the shade garden. The low maintenance plants not only repel deer, but also grow in the dense shade of walnut trees, with no signs of the juglone toxicity that plague other shade lovers like azaleas. 'Raspberry Splash' is a common cultivar that is also said to be powdery mildew resistant.
08 of 10
The legend and mystique of the poppy plant causes some gardeners trepidation about including it in the flowerbed. Are poppies difficult to grow? Is the bloom time too short to bother? Are they poisonous? Poppies are easy to grow in full sun and well-draining soil. They bloom for about two weeks, which is no less than peonies, but many poppies also have ornamental seed pods that endure for weeks afterwards. The poppy plant's toxicity is what causes deer to steer clear.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
The Madagascar periwinkle sounds like an exotic hothouse flower, but this hardworking annual shrugs off deer, rabbits, and drought with its leathery foliage. Whether you need reliable bedding plants, something for the container garden, a showy edging plant, or even a houseplant, vinca flowers will fill all of these plant niches.
Expect your vinca plants to flower from late spring until frost, although flowering is best in hot weather. Full sun is a must for best flowering, and if you add well-draining soil and a balanced flower fertilizer every other week, you will have all the ingredients for a low-maintenance flowerbed in place.
10 of 10
At the end of winter, when most appealing foliage, seeds, and brush have been browsed to the ground, the bright yellow flowers of winter aconite push their way up through the snow. You can plant these harbingers of spring with abandon along paths and open woodland areas, as deer will pass them by.
Plant winter aconite bulbs three inches deep in the fall, after soaking the tubers to wake them from dormancy. The flowers are a good choice for areas under deciduous trees that are sunny in late winter, but shady in summer. If your winter aconite patch gets regular irrigation, you will enjoy an ever-enlarging naturalized collection of these flowers.