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Choosing Deer Resistant Plants

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

By Ray Allen, founder of AmericanMeadows.com

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

The obvious solutions are sometimes difficult. A homeowner can fence a vegetable plot, but that's not usually possible when people are trying to landscape a larger area. Also, the whole idea of flower gardens, wild or not-so-wild, is to create a beautiful landscape. A secure fence is not usually part of the plan. So more and more of our customers are asking, "What flowers are deer-proof?" Well, read on.

We work with gardeners across the country, and we've found that gardeners have the most success using deer use repellent such as "Deer Off", which is widely available at garden center stores across the country. Deer repellent can be a useful tool for protecting your favorite plants, and plants while they are young, since even deer resistant plants need time to develop their natural defenses. For more helpful tips, here are 5 Strategies For Preventing Deer Damage In The Garden.

Deer are a grazing species, which means they generally feed on whatever vegetation is available. As most gardeners know, they usually favor tender new growth: new spring twigs on trees and shrubs, and of course, tempting food crops that we plant in our vegetable gardens. Read on for our recommendations for deer-resistant (and even a few deer-proof) wildflowers, plants, and flower bulbs for your garden!

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
Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed MixtureDeer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mixture
Containing 17 wildflowers that deter deer and other critters, the Deer Resistant Wildflower Mix brings loads of colorful blooms to the landscape.

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 that's great, since many gardeners like to plant daffodils in their natural areas. Dutch bulb experts tell us that all colors and types of daffodils qualify as "deer-proof." Alliums, or Ornamental Onions, are the same. 

Deer Resistant Bulbs for Fall Planting

Deer Resistant Spring Planted Bulbs


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. 

You can learn more about how often common perennials receive deer damage in this study done by Rutgers University: Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance 

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