by Connie Oswald Stofko
If you get discouraged when deer chomp away at your garden, know that growers and garden centers have the same problems.
“Deer are a battle for us,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.
In back of Mischler’s, there are fields filled with deer, eyeing the tasty plants set outside for sale.
“I swear by the repellents,” Yadon said. “If I didn’t have repellents, we wouldn’t be in business.”
Yadon’s go-to repellent is Liquid Fence. He switches that up with Everguard Deer & Rabbit Repellent so that the deer don’t get used to one or the other. They both work well, he said.
Make sure you watch your plants closely and spray the repellent on preventively. You need to spray the part of the plant the deer might eat. For example, if you sprayed the leaves of a daylily and now the plant is getting flowers, spray those buds before they become a deer delicacy.
The repellents suggest that you should spray them once a month. While they will stay on after a light rain, you should reapply after a gully washer, Yadon said. And reapply as soon as possible after the rain– The deer seem to know that after a hard rain, the plants will be tasty again.
To save yourself some time and work, choose plants that deer hate.
Well, hate is a strong word. If deer get hungry enough, they’ll eat anything; this happens especially in the winter. But you should at least choose plants for your garden that deer don’t like as much. Let the deer fill up on their favorite foods in other people’s gardens!
Here are some deer-resistant perennials that you can buy right now at Mischler’s. No, it’s not too late to plant!
Bonus tip: You’ll want to use many of these plants in your garden even if you don’t have a deer problem.
Extra bonus tip: If you don’t want to sift through this long list, skip down to the bottom and find out how you can get professionals to choose plants for you and get them delivered to your house in the Buffalo area.
Flowers and foliage for sun
Butterfly flower (or butterfly weed) or Asclepias tuberosa
In a previous article, we talked about using “two-fers,” plants that have at least two features that recommend them. The butterfly flower (also known as butterfly weed) or Asclepias tuberosa has many great qualities.
First, of course, it is deer resistant. It gets pretty flowers that attract and hummingbirds and other pollinators. It’s a kind of milkweed, and monarch caterpillars need milkweed.
And if you don’t like watering plants all the time, you’ll like butterfly flower. It’s drought tolerant.
The butterfly flower likes sun and gets 18 to 24 inches high.
Achillea or yarrow
Yarrow has frilly, fern-like foliage and pretty flowers that come in many colors, including white, yellow and pink. It likes full sun and grows 24 inches tall. In addition to being deer resistant, yarrow also attracts butterflies.
Nepeta or catmint
This is yet another plant that you may want to grow even if you don’t have a problem with deer. Catmint is a long bloomer– from May through August. The small purple flowers attract butterflies and bees. The foliage smells good.
Catmint needs part to full sun. The variety ‘Little Trudy’ is smaller than some other varieties, growing 8 to 10 inches tall and 12 to 16 inches wide.
Hardy geranium ‘Rozanne’
‘Rozanne’ is the best variety of hardy geranium, Yadon said, explaining that “it blooms almost all season.” It blooms from late spring to early fall with showy, purple flowers and is a vigorous grower.
I have it in my garden and I think it’s great, too, even though I don’t have deer. It’s easy to care for.
‘Rozanne’ is low-growing and spreads. It likes sun but can tolerate some shade.
I personally love Russian sage because the leaves smell wonderful. It’s an ornamental plant, not an herb, and it is pretty in the garden with its purple flowers and silvery foliage. It blooms in the summer and is easy to care for.
Agastache or hyssop
In addition to being deer resistant, agastache, commonly known as hyssop, attracts pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
“It’s just an awesome bee-friendly plant,” Yadon said. “They’re all over that thing.”
It blooms almost all summer long and is drought tolerant.
People love this flowering perennial for its scent, but deer apparently don’t share our taste in perfume.
“This is a truly deer resistant plant,” Yadon said.
There are many varieties of lavender. ‘Munstead‘ is a shorter, mounding variety.
Artemisia or wormwood
This plant is used for its silvery foliage. Two different varieties are ‘Silver Brocade’ and ‘Silver Mound’.
It’s drought resistant, plus it’s rabbit resistant, too.
Ornamental grasses & sedges
There are many, many varieties of ornamental grasses, and they’re pretty much all deer resistant, Yadon said. There are tall and short varieties, smooth and fluffy varieties, striped and solid varieties. They can really add interest to your garden.
Plants in the Carex genus are deer resistant, too. Those are sedges, which are grassy plants.
Flowers & ferns for part sun to shade
‘Obliqua’ is a pink turtlehead chelone, named because the flower looks like the head of a turtle. It is native to parts of North America and can get two to three feet tall. It likes a moist location.
Helleborus or Lenten rose or Christmas rose
Just when you’re tired of winter in March, the Lenten rose blooms– sometimes when there is still snow on the ground.
The plant isn’t a rose, which is in the Rosaceae family. The Helleborus is in the Ranunculaceae family, which includes the buttercup. The Lenten Rose gets large, flat flowers.
Don’t overlook plants like this; you want perennials in your garden that are interesting at various times of the year. If you plant only flowers that bloom in July, or that catch your eye when you shop in May, your yard will be boring the rest of the year.
Lungwort is a plant used for the color and texture of its foliage. There are spotted varieties as well as solid colored varieties.
It is low-growing and gets a pretty flower in the spring.
How the lungwort got its name is interesting. “Wort” means “plant” and is used especially for medicinal plants. Lungwort was used to treat breathing ailments. In medieval times it was thought that plants that were shaped like a certain body organ could be used as medicine for problems with that body organ. So lungwort was the plant used for lung conditions.
Lily of the valley
This fragrant white flower of the lily of the valley is a symbol of springtime. It is low growing and durable.
Aruncus or goat’s beard
Mischler’s carries a dwarf goat’s beard that blooms from early to midsummer with feathery, spiky flowers that are three to four inches long. The dwarf goat’s beard gets only about a foot tall, so it’s nice for small areas.
Anemone or pasqueflower
While the common name for this plant is pasqueflower, most people actually call it anemone.
‘Sylvestris‘, which Mischler’s has in stock, is a spring-blooming anemone, but there are autumn-blooming varieties as well.
Monkshood is poisonous, which may be why deer don’t like it. It gets its name because the pretty flowers are shaped like the hoods on monks’ robes.
Just as most ornamental grasses are deer resistant, ferns aren’t usually bothered by deer. Ferns grow well in shady spots and add texture to those areas.
Instant deer-resistant garden
Rather than sift through a long list of plants trying to decide what you should pick, there’s an easier way to get deer-resistant perennials for your garden.
Try Mischler’s Go Gardens, available during the growing season.
You get a collection of six plants, each in a large, one-gallon pot. For deer-resistant plants, choose the “No Deer Here” collection.
The professionals at Mischler’s choose plants looking at a number of different qualities. For example, not only will the plants be deer resistant, the plants will vary in height. There might be a plant that blooms early and something that blooms later. This gives you a good mix of plants.
Because the staff chooses from the best plants on hand, each collection contains different plants.
Other collections include “Butterfly Flutterby” for butterfly lovers, “Hummm Zinger” for bird lovers and “A Cut Above” for people who want cut flowers, as well as “American Natives,” “Pollinator Pals” and “Shady Characters.”
Not only can you stop into the garden center to pick up a Go Garden, you can have one delivered to your house in the greater Buffalo area.
See more about Go Gardens here.