Many times the first objection people have to deer is that they nibble on their $30 plants that, hopefully in time, will grow into a strong backbone of the garden. Not many people have taken to living behind 8 ft fences unless they grow veggies and gorgeous tomatoes. However, I’ve seen my squirrel indulge in my pot grown tomatoes with exuberance just as he rolled with delight in my crocuses in many early springs. The squirrel is in a better place now, but his kids still get to my tomatoes — I’ve seen them last summer. So you can’t blame the deer for all the damage!
While no plant is ever guaranteed deer proof because of all those variables, e.g., the place where one lives, the season of year, whether we’ve had drought or deluge, winter snows or summer heat, the availability of acorns, apples, fall forbs or spring forbs not eaten by domestic animals or had any adverse affects of planet alignments, still many plants can be considered deer resistant. Deer will not do well in areas where they have to compete with elk or cows, because they prefer to browse small wild flowers, we consider weeds, growing in the fields or low lying bushes. They are not grass eaters like elk or cows either. Yes, they have been known to get into the farmer’s corn field at night along with other furry creatures and sleep in the tall grass during the day. The PA Game Commission gives help to farmers affected by deer antics. But gardening not farming is my thing. So, here is a partial list of plants not liked by deer taken from http://awaytogarden.com/deer-resistant-plants-resource-lists-gardeners/
“for native-plant enthusiasts:
- This resource, created in southeastern Pennsylvania at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, tracked deer-resistant natives in a chart.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has likewise created a collection of recommended plants.
- The Gardening in Deer Country website, from Ohio, has more than 900 plants evaluated and even charted them.
- The Ohio Landscape Association’s list includes some favorites listed as ones deer there eat “less often,” including smokebush (Cotinus), and bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora).
- From Michigan State, a bulletin on deer-resistant plants for homeowners.
- Rutgers University’s deer-resistance database rates plants from in four categories, from “rarely damaged” through “frequently severely damaged.”
- Cornell professor Mark Bridgen’s chart of “plants deer do not like to eat,” from boxwood and bayberry to Nicotiana and Agastache.
- University of Connecticut’s Plant Database can be filtered for deer resistance (tick the box for “deer resistance” under the heading “special qualities”).
- Penn State’s deer-resistant plant fact sheet.”
Lady Bird Johnson WildflowerCenter https://www.wildflower.org/collections/collection.php?collection=deer ” click on your state.