My subdivision has been taken over by deer. As I plan next year’s garden, please suggest some perennial flowers or shrubs that deer will not eat.
If deer are hungry enough, they eat just about anything. This answer will include deer-resistant or rarely-damaged varieties and resources to check out more. You might first consider deterring deer from entering your garden. One suggestion is a motion-sensitive sprinkler, called the ScareCrow, which is available at many garden centers. It sprays a shocking blast of water about twenty feet, scaring away deer. Move it periodically or the deer “learn” the pattern, but it is harmless and waters your plants. Be sure to turn it off if you have guests! Also, deer do not like prickly items, many fragrant plants, and footing areas that make noise or feel unstable.
Here are some plants that deer tend to avoid. Bulbs: allium, daffodil and autumn crocus. Herbs: dill, purple coneflower, lavender, sage, tansy, thyme. Shrubs: boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), American holly (Ilex opaca), and Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica). Trees: paper birch (Betula papyrifera) and Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens). Perennials: yarrow, columbine, bergenia, bleeding heart, oriental poppy, Russian sage, coneflower (Rudbeckia), lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina), and yucca. Groundcovers: sweet woodruff, dead nettle (Lamium maculatum), plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), and pachysandra.
Deer-Resistant Plants for Homeowners is a 2008 publication by Michigan State University, Bulletin E-3042. Contact your county extension office for a copy (www.msue.msu.edu). Also try the book Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden by Rhonda Massingham Hart (Storey Publishing).