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Choosing Deer Resistant Plants

How to discourage deer from eating your wildflowers, bulbs, and perennials.

In recent years, the increase of deer in residential neighborhoods has sounded an alarm for many gardeners. While most people love deer and enjoy seeing them, they are not amused when Bambi walks in and strips a newly-planted garden, wildflower planting, or display of beautiful spring tulips.

The obvious solutions are sometimes difficult. You can fence a vegetable plot, but that's not always possible in every landscape - or for every budget. Also, when designing a garden, wild or not-so-wild, a towering fence is not usually part of the vision. If you, like many of our customers, are asking, "What flowers are deer-proof," we can help!

We work with gardeners across the country, and we've found that people have the most success using deer repellent, which is widely available at garden center stores across the country. Deer repellent can be a useful tool for protecting your favorite plants.

Another important strategy? Choosing deer resistant plants! These plants have natural defenses, such as fuzzy foliage, fragrant or resinous foliage, or bitter sap - all of which deter deer from eating them.

Read on for our recommendations for deer-resistant (and even a few deer-proof) wildflowers, plants, and flower bulbs for your garden.

Top Deer Resistant Wildflowers

Some wildflower experts have made up lists of deer-resistant wildflower species to inform homeowners. It's important to know that these lists are just that: deer resistant, not deer proof. It's important to protect young seedlings, since, as mentioned above, even deer resistant plants need time to mature and develop their natural defenses, such as fragrance or bitter taste. Here are the wildflower species we recommend as "resistant" to grazing from deer:

  1. Our Deer-Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix is formulated with wildflowers that deter deer and other critters.
  2. Achillea millefolium (White Yarrow)
  3. Coreopsis tinctoria (Plains Coreopsis)
  4. Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)
  5. Eschscholzia californica (California Poppy)
  6. Gaillardia aristata (Blanket Flower)
  7. Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)
  8. Lupinus perennis (Perennial Lupine)
  9. Lupinus succulentus (Arroyo Lupine)
  10. Lupinus densiflorus (Golden Lupine)
  11. Papaver rhoeas (Red Poppy)
  12. Rudbeckia hirta (Gloriosa Daisy)
  13. Salvia coccinea (Scarlet Sage)
  14. Salvia farinacea (Blue Sage)
  15. Zinnia

Top Deer Resistant Flower Bulbs

There are some bulbs that are actually considered deer-proof, because they have compounds that are toxic to eat. Deer and other critters simply won't eat them. The most famous is the Daffodil, and these are a great choice for planting in small gardens as well as large naturalized areas. Dutch flower bulb experts tell us that all colors and types of Daffodils qualify as "deer-proof." Alliums, or Ornamental Onions, are the same. 

Deer Resistant Fall-Planted Bulbs

Deer Resistant Spring Planted Bulbs

Top Deer Resistant Perennials

When it comes to the perennial garden, many plants are deer-resistant. Remember, it's important to protect young plants, since even deer-resistant plants need time to mature and develop their natural defenses, such as fragrance or bitter taste. 

For a details look at just how deer-proof each plant is, see this report from Rutgers University on how often common perennials receive deer damage : Landscape Plants Rated By Deer Resistance 

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