Deer may be beautiful but, to gardeners, they are voracious chompers of beloved plants and devourers of our budgets. They even have the nerve to come close to the house and onto our patios where we try planting annuals in containers. Fortunately, there are some annuals that the deer usually don’t eat. I emphasize usually because with deer there are no guarantees except for the poisonous plants.
They tend to stay away from herbally or bitterly scented plants and from poisonous plants, thus most herbs are safe. Several tropicals that always make a statement are also usually safe, for instance, Canna, Phormium, Cordyline,
Ricinus (Castor Bean) and Elephant Ears (Alocasia and Colocasia).
If you are tired of fibrous begonias and would like to branch out a bit, there are some gorgeous new begonias with larger leaves and different colors like
‘Gryphon’ with its silvery foliage and and ‘Escargot’ with its spiral, variegated pattern. There are also some begonias that have long stems and that are perfect for containers or even in the ground because they cover so much space. Dragonwing has very large leaves and has either red or pink flowers. A new series called Million Kisses is also a spreader with pointy bell-like flowers.
Other annuals that the deer usually don’t have on their menu are Ageratum, Browallia, Cleome, Dahlia, Datura, Dusty Miller, Fuchsia, Gazania, Helichrysum, Heliotrope, Hypoestes, Lantana, Lobelia, Lobularia, Marigold, Nicotiana, Petunia, Salvia farinacea, Snapdragons, Torenia, Verbena, Vinca, and Zinnia.
Another group of plants the deer leave alone are the ornamental grasses. There are some gorgeous annual grasses such as
Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ with its pink, red, and green variegation and, of course, that old standby Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ with its burgundy foliage and inflorescences. Fiber Optic Grass is smaller but distinctive.
There are also many perennials that the deer tend not to eat. Again, scent can be an important factor. Perennials such as
Agastache (Hyssop) that smells like licorice, Digitalis (Foxglove) which is poisonous,
Aconitum (Monkshood) which is also poisonous and an excellent substitute for Delphinium,
Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard) that resembles Astilbe on steroids, any of the Astilbe, and virtually all ferns. The perennials mentioned are only a few examples of the ones that the deer usually leave alone.
Most of these plants will be for sale during my annual Plant Sale, this year Thursday, May 9. For more information about the plants and the sale, visit my website, www.bgthumb.com, and read the 2013 Newsletter and the Order Form; they have pictures and cultural information.