Tonkadale was asked to be a guest blogger on the Monrovia site this week!  Monrovia is a national plant brand (maybe you’ve heard of it) supplying great plants to garden centers like ours all over the country.  Of course, we jumped at the opportunity and the perfect topic for our customers: Deer Resistant Perennials.  Check it out.  If you like it, share it.  

Make sure to check out Monrovia’s plants and their blog too!  They are promoting plants, planting and gardening – colorful, easy care, sturdy, hardy, drought resistant and pollinator friendly varieties – which is the best thing ever.  We look forward to contributing to their blog again.  Plant plants – it’s important!

Oh, deer! They may be cute while prancing through a meadow or navigating snow in winter, but in the garden deer are far from fun. It’s always the same sad story. As new growth emerges or just when that long-awaited bloom is about to open, the top is lopped right off. Sometimes, plants are newly planted, they are ripped entirely out of the ground. What’s a gardener to do?

Unfortunately, it’s true, deer will eat almost anything. Get one step ahead by gardening with plants that are not their favorite buffet offerings and they might just cruise over to someone else’s yard. Here are 10 plant selections to try. Extra bonus – 5 of these varieties are for shade.

Gay Butterflies Milkweed

Gay Butterflies Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa ‘Gay Butterflies’

Stunning and most effective at attracting pollinators in mass plantings. A larval host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars – extra bonus! Jump into the Monarch Zone. Often seen in prairie plantings or wild areas, this orange stunner is sturdy and reliable once established. Re-seeds and forms clumps in the garden. Not thirsty, drought tolerant. USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-11.

Use: Ideal for naturalized areas, meadows, and borders.

Golden Sword Yucca

Golden Sword Yucca
Yucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’

Stunning, structural foliage with floaty, flirty and fragrant white blooms make this easy-care plant a must-have. Extremely drought tolerant, this sun lover pairs well with sedum for deer resistance and low water input. Use this plant in mass for a contemporary, modern look or as a specimen plant in a mixed garden. USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9

Use: Mass for a contemporary, modern look or as a specimen plant in a mixed garden.

Powwow White Coneflower

PowWow White Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea ‘PAS702918’ P.P. #7,982,110

Coneflowers, especially PowWow White and its close cousin PowWow Wildberry, are deer-resistant perennials with prolific flowers that last and last! This mid- to late-summer bloomer is a major pollinator magnet. Butterflies and bees love to visit. Dried seed heads become food for birds during the sparse winter months. PowWow White is also an excellent addition to the moonlight garden because you can see it in the dark! Drought tolerant too! USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9.

Use: In a mixed border, or in a moonlight garden where they gleam at night.

Caradonna Meadow Sage

Caradonna Meadow Sage
Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’

Deep purple stems and a strong, upright habit provide interest even after the blooms have finished. Cut this salvia back after first bloom for another round of purple power. Leave the stems for structure and interest after the second flush of flowers. Resilient and hardy are the best two words to describe sage. Attractive to many pollinators too! USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9.

Use: Mass plantings create waves of dark purple for days on end.

Foerster's Feather Reed Grass

Foerster’s Feather Reed Grass
Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’

Every garden needs a backdrop for blooming plants to stand out. Hardy, vertical, and adaptable to many soil and sunlight conditions, this is a garden staple. Plays well with others. Always dependable! Adds structure and interest to a winter landscape. Blooms earlier than your standard feather reed grass. This type of grass is good at processing water and can be used to mitigate run-off or as a nice addition to a rain garden. USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9.

Use: Adds structure and interest to a winter landscape. Use to mitigate run-off, or in a rain garden.

Balmy Lilac Bee Balm

Balmy Lilac Bee Balm
Monarda didyma ‘Balbalmac’ P.P. #26,594

Vibrant purple flowers on a compact plant add punch to garden borders and attract pollinators such as bees (obviously), butterflies and hummingbirds. This is a compact, prolific bloomer and is less likely to “run” the way some Bee Balm will. USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9.

Sweet Dwarf Astilbe

Sprite Dwarf Astilbe
Astilbe simplicifolia ‘Sprite’

Another shade garden go-to. Delicate, white blooms that tend to arch outward and down add a soft touch and brighten dark garden corners. A dwarf variety, this plant performs equally well in the landscape or in a mixed container. USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9.

Double Fantasy Lenten Rose
Double Fantasy Lenten Rose (Winter Dreams Series)
Helleborus niger ‘Double Fantasy’

Pokes its eager head up out of the snow when the deer are their hungriest. A favorite among gardeners, but happily, for deer, not so much. Extremely early bloom time. Beautiful, ruffled white petals and gold stamens. Evergreen. Zones: 3-9.

Use: Shaded woodland garden. Excellent cut flower.

Luxuriant Fringed Bleeding Heart

Luxuriant Fringed Bleeding Heart
Dicentra x ‘Luxuriant

With a longer bloom time than the old-fashioned bleeding hearts, this variety a must for the shade or woodland garden. This is where the deer like to hang out. Despite the delicate look of the foliage, this variety stands up to the heat quite well. Interesting foliage adds texture and bluish tones to the shade garden, long after its early bloom time has come and gone. USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-8.

Use: Adds delicate greenery to corners or shaded niches.

Golden Duchess Eastern Hemlock

Golden Duchess Eastern Hemlock
Tsuga canadensis ‘MonKinn’ P.P. #25,503

Compact with golden foliage, this shade-loving shrub can be planted as a specimen or in mass for stunning effect. Enough said! USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-7.

Use: Perfect for woodland or rock gardens. A stunning container specimen.

Aside from planting deer-resistant plant varieties, here are a few other tips and tricks to help save your garden from unwanted pruning, mowing and munching.

  • Deer are pattern eaters. Like us, they can get in a rut. Once they discover your yard as their favorite lunch truck, they’ll just keep coming back. Make sure they never discover the tasty nuggets your yard has to offer.
  • Modify deer eating patterns and behavior early. Early in the season, string heavy gauge fishing line between posts about one and a half and three feet high. Be sure it’s tight and the posts won’t fall over with a little pressure. Deer love to visit at dusk and dawn, when the light is waning and visibility is hampered. Being nervous creatures by nature, they don’t like being touched by something they can’t see. The fishing line will not be visible, and will hinder their movement. They may back away and try again, but they’ll soon find where they can and cannot walk.
  • Apply repellants. There are plenty of scents deer dislike, and repellents use these scents to mask the delectable smells deer prefer. Repellants are just stinky stuff. They aren’t harmful or toxic to you or the environment. Repellants are sold in granular or liquid form and are easy to apply. Intermix desirable deer candy with resistant varieties and begin applying repellants early in the season for maximum effect.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Gardening in a verb. That means it is an ongoing activity that happens over time and space. Most plants tolerate being munched on a bit. They will grow out of it and perennials will come back next year. Start small, think big and plant plants!