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Please share your expertise and recommendations

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

I may have created a monster! No, I'm kidding.... But I encouraged my parents to attend the garden tour this weekend and now Mom wants me to do a design a garden for her. She has some garden--we are not starting from scratch. She's gardened for years, knows the basics, doesn't mind a little maintenance, etc.

The main challenge to designing a garden plan for her is the deer. She lives out in the country--in a little suburban-like subdivision of one street with about 20 to 25 houses. The houses all back up to undeveloped woods. One neighbor feeds the deer (as if there were not already too many deer in the area!) so a herd of deer move through her yard daily. Before this neighbor moved in and the deer got so bad, she used to have a rose garden with about 18 rosebushes beside the front drive. Only 2 or 3 tiny bushes remain now and she never gets to see them bloom 'cause the darling deer (sarcasm intentional) eat the buds right before they open! They regularly mow down her hostas....

We need to develop a plan that relies heavily on plants the deer only eat when they can't get anything else. Mom has some full sun areas, some full shade areas, and some in between. So there's a place in her yard for almost any kind of plant. Mom's yard is zone 6a.

I have no experience with planning a deer resistant garden. Any help y'all can give me about what to plant that the deer won't automatically munch on, will be very appreciated. I know about the deer repellent spray stuff--can't think of the name right now...Plantskydd or something like that....but I'd like to plant stuff that the deer won't really want to eat so we won't have to rely heavily on sprays, electric fencing, etc. Mom loves things that bloom--the more heavily it flowers, the better!

TIA for any help/advice!


New Madison, OH(Zone 5a)

Hey Kim,
Sounds like you need to talk to Rox_male! She does her garden like that...to be deer resistant. We have deer, but ...knock on wood....they seem to pass on through, and don't destroy. And I have lots of hostas where they come through too.????

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Anyone have any advice to offer?

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

FYI Lists of plants resistant to deer damange--- http://njaes.rutgers.edu/deerresistance/

It seems like everyone has deer problems these days and the deer seem to have varied appetites so there is some trial and error involved. Rox has done quite a bit of on site research on plant/deer likes and dislikes and may add more personal insights.

One very good non-deer flower for spring is the Daffodil. Most animals leave them alone. Deer seem to leave Muscari alone, too, so that is one springtime combination for you to consider. Tulips on the other hand are deer candy.

Our deer problem has waned since they had a 'controlled shoot' in our county forest for the past two years, so many of our formerly harassed plants have survived in tact.

I hope Rox sees your query and responds. She has lots of good ideas.

Good luck. t.

This message was edited Jun 27, 2007 8:57 PM

Athens, OH

Sorry I didn't see this earlier.

Kim, you should definitely come out and see the gardens. I have about 900 perennials/bulbs in the garden and boy do we have deer! I haven't sprayed the last 2 years, so what's left is somewhat deer resistant (for my deer at least).

It would help if you could come up with a list of colors and heights. Specify shade/part shade/sun. Then I can give you lists.

Here's and example:
My purple and pink sun garden.
Early Spring: iris reticulata; crocus (sometimes munched); pink daffodils; peony

Later Spring/Early summer: bearded iris; siberian iris; verbascum; penstemon (husker's red; red rocks; sour grapes; smallii); salvia (may night; hians (a little munched); ; saponaria ocymoides; geranium (low growing varieties only; will get nipped sometimes); japanese iris; verbena bonariensis (nipped but outlasts the deer; self seeds); veronica spicata (red fox; royal candles); clematis (the President);

Summer: perovskia; lysimachia beaujolais; stokes asters (some years this really gets nipped); rosa 'lovely fairy?' (I keep this short, ~1 foot and the deer tend to mostly ignore it; it blooms all summer); clematis texensis; lavender

Late summer/Fall: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides; lavender

I also like to add annuals: somniferum poppies; cleome

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Hi Rox! Thanks for the advice. My mom is at the point where I don't think she cares about colors--she just wants blooming stuff that the deer won't eat before she gets to enjoy it. I will have to come out and see your garden--remember I still have your two astilbe from the RU which I haven't delivered yet! They are doing fine in the pot and I'm watering them faithfully, but I need to get them to you soon.

By the way, Rox, guess what's getting ready to bloom any minute--well, probably tomorrow anyway.... Recognize it? The first of the Ismene festalis you gave me is ready to open!


Thumbnail by kevanrijn
Springfield, OH(Zone 5b)

oh.that reminds me kev.. those hollyhocks are doing great

Thumbnail by Jazzpunkin
Athens, OH

I am so glad the Ismene is blooming!

I forgot two other favorite purple/pink sun perennials that deer don't like:
monarda (sometimes nipped)

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Rox, the Ismene festalis has fully opened and boy! Is it ever gorgeous!

Thanks for all the recommendations, it's a huge help. I've got some books from the local library on the topic but it's always good to know what works in the local area.

Do the deer leave the Ismene festalis alone? My mom is gonna wanna know once she sees mine!

Thumbnail by kevanrijn
Springfield, OH(Zone 5b)

THat really looks huge! I thought that Peruvian Daffs were tiny for some reason

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

It is big...I'd compare it to an amaryllis bloom for size (both amaryllis and Ismene festalis belong to the same family and the leaves look a lot alike too).

Link to plant file http://davesgarden.com/pf/go/1234/

Springfield, OH(Zone 5b)

Do you have to dig it up or is it hardy?

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Dig it up. I put my amaryllis outside in the summer too. I don't mind digging them back up. Or you can plant them in containers and just move the containers from outside to back inside for the winter. Only hardy in zones 8-10 or 7-11, depending on the source you consult.

Athens, OH

The deer should leave the Ismene alone.


Springfield, OH(Zone 5b)

ooh..containers would work..

Athens, OH

For the Ismene, I find that digging them up, drying them out for a few weeks in the garage, chopping off the dead leaves and storing them in cardboard boxes with shredded newpaper in my attached garage works well for winter storage.

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Rox, my garage is unattached (but not single, *snicker, snicker*) and unheated, so do you think I would do better to store them in my basement? Or would our unheated attic be better? Basement is somewhat damp, attic is dry but colder, but not as cold as the garage....

Athens, OH


The temp needs to be above freezing but not too warm. I would think the basement might be better if the attic can get hot.


Springfield, OH(Zone 5b)

ohh.. ROx. shoudl that EE you gave me go in the basement then..My garage is unattached and unheated also

Sugar Valley, GA(Zone 7b)

Kim.. Dutchgardens.com has a tab on the website with nothing but deer resistant plants..You may see something there too...


Athens, OH

Which EE?
The A. gageana should be grown as house plants next to a window during the winter.
The C. Fontanesii can be grown as house plants next to a window during the winter or the corm can be dried and stored in the basement.


Springfield, OH(Zone 5b)

think it's the Fontanesii

Sugar Valley, GA(Zone 7b)

Kim...GrandMother used to save the hair from the brushes, and GrandFather put it in little nylon netting bags and hung it all over the perimeter of the property....There is something else he did, that has to do with the bladder.. Nuff said

Deer don't like the smell of raw eggs, fish products, kelp, or ammonia. Any spray made from these products can be used. Just mix the product of choice in water and spray the plants to be protected.

Deer don't like the smell of soap either. Some gardeners have especially found success with Dial and Zest brands.

Blood meal scattered around the garden is another good deterrent.

Since deer don't like capsaicin, the ingredient that makes peppers hot, a spray made from chili peppers deters deer.

Hang fragrant fabric-softener strips on trees around the garden.

Some gardeners have found success by laying chicken wire on the ground about six feet wide around the perimeter of the garden. The deer don't like to walk on it because their hooves get stuck in the loops of the wire.

Try planting time-released garlic capsules, or real garlic plants at the bases of trees or shrubs or in the rows of plants to be protected.

And finally, someone said hanging sweat soaked T-shirts in trees or bushes will keep them away too..but remember to change them frequently..

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Thanks for all the good suggestions everyone! I was reading of a botanical garden that hired snipers and put them up in tree stands, then set out corn to attract the deer... My mom has 11 grandchildren--7 of them males ages 30 down to 8 years old. Maybe we could set up a sniper training program. LOL.

Sugar Valley, GA(Zone 7b)

Rarely Damaged by Deer

Botanical Name Common Name
Aesculus parviflora Bottlebrush Buckeye
Amelanchier arborea Downy Serviceberry
Amelanchier canadensis Shadbush
Amelanchier laevis Allegheny Serviceberry
Betula albo-sinensis Chinese Paper Birch
Betula nigra 'Heritage' Heritage Birch
Betula papyrifera Paper Birch
Chamaecyparis pisifera Japanese Falsecypress
Cryptomeria japonica Japanese Cedar
Picea pungens glauca Colorado Blue Spruce
Pinus sylvestris Scotch Pine
Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas Fir
Shrubs and Climbers
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry
Asimina triloba Pawpaw
Berberis spp. Barberry
Buxus spp. Boxwood
Caryopteris x clandonensis Caryopteria
Calastrus scandens American Bittersweet
Cornus sericea Red Osier Dogwood
Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. horeana Japanese Plum-Yew
Elaeagnus angustifolia Russian Olive
Gaultheria procumbens Creeping Wintergreen
Hibiscus syriacus Rose of Sharon
Ilex x 'John T. Morris' John T. Morris Holly
Ilex x 'Lydia Morris' Lydia Morris Hollies
Leucothoe spp. Leucothoe
Ligustrum vulgare European Privet
Pieris japonica Japanese Andromeda
Rhamnus cathartica Common Buckthorn
Sambucus canadensis Blueberry Elder
Sarcoccoca hookeriana var. humilis Dwarf Sweet Christmas Box
Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs
Achillea spp. Yarrow
Aconitum spp. Monkshood
Ageratum houstonianum Ageratum
Allium christophii Star of Persia
Allium neapolitanum Daffodil Garlic
Allium ostrowskianum Lily Leek
Anemone x hybrida Japanese Anemone
Anemonella thalictroides Rue Anemone
Anethum graveolens Common Dill
Aquilegia spp. Columbine
Aurinia saxatilis Basket-of-Gold
Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon
Arabis spp. Rock-cress
Arisaema thiphylum Jack-in-the-Pulpit
Aubrietia deltoidea Rock Cress
Bergenia spp. Berginia
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Plumbago
Cimicifuga racemosa Snakeroot
Colchicum autumnale Colchicum
Colchicum speciosum Colchicum
Consolida ambigua Larkspur
Convallaria majalis Lily-of-the-valley
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' Threadleaf Coreopsis
Cyclamen hederifolium Neopolitan Cyclamen
Dicentra spectabilis Bleeding Heart
Digitalis spp. Foxglove
Dryopteris marginalis Wood Fern
Ecinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower
Epimedium spp. Barrenwort
Euphorbia spp. Euphorbia
Fritillaria spp. Fritillary
Galium odoratuim Sweet Woodruff
Gloriosa superba Glory Lily
Hemmerocallis 'Stella de Oro' Stella de Oro Daylily
Hesperis matronalis Dame's Rocket
Hyacinthus orientalis Hyacinth
Lamium maculatum Deadnettle
Lavandula spp. Lavender
Linaria vulgaris Toadflax
Lobularia maritima Sweet Alyssum
Lychnis coronaria Rose Champion
Matteuccia struthiopteris Ostrich Fern
Narcissus spp. Daffodil
Nicotiana spp. Flowering Tobacco
Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis Royal Fern
Pachysandra procumbens Allegheny Spurge
Pachysandra terminalis Japanese Spurge
Papaver orientale Oriental Poppy
Pelargonium spp. Scented Geranium
Pervoshia atriplicifolia Russian Sage
Ranunculus spp. Buttercup
Rheum rhabarbarum Rhubarb
Rudbeckia spp. Coneflower
Salvia spp. Sage
Santolina chamaecyparissus Lavender Cotton
Scilla spp. Squill
Stachys byzantina Lamb's Ears
Tagetes spp. Marigold
Tanacetum vulgare Common Tansy
Thymus spp. Thyme
Tiarella cordifolia Foam Flower
Tropaeolum majus Nasturtium
Yucca spp. Yucca

Faversham, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

If you want to know more about Aconitums check out my thread



Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

There is nothing deer will not eat, in our experience, if they are hungry enough. Deer populations are out of hand in our area and need to be thinned. The animals are desperate for food come winter. We have more than two acres (1 hectare) fenced. It keeps the deer out of the vegetable and flower gardens during the warm months but during winter they either go through or over the fences. We have whole herds of up to a dozen that will come up against the fences to graze off the woodland plants right outside the kitchen window in summer. They watch me and I watch them. BTW, our fences are more than 1.5 meters. We have an additional unfenced fifteen acres where they are decimating the indigenous terrestrial orchids and other endangered native plants. I used to be all about Bambi but now think Bambi looks better in the freezer than in the garden.

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