There are all kinds of ways to repel deer from the garden, ranging from potions made with garlic, hot sauce, rotten eggs, scare sprinklers, and 8-foot tall fences. 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 cannot keep the deer away from the garden, you can plant flowers that do not appeal to deer. These 10 choices include options for sun, shade, and all seasons.
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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 the flowers among hostas, which will fill in as the bleeding heart foliage disappears in the summer.
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Coneflower attracts butterflies, nourishes bees and wild birds, self-seeds in a non-aggressive way, and grows in sun or partial shade. Is there anything this versatile flower cannot 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.
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Not your average shade garden plant, the corydalis is noteworthy for its beautiful fern-like foliage and long blooming period. The plants resemble bleeding hearts, but the flower colors include 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 its recognition as the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1992. Plant it 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 do not 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.
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Pulmonaria plants with their quirky name and freckled foliage are an unsung hero of the shade garden. These 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.