One way to outsmart deer is to make astute perennial choices in your garden. Here are 5 plants we’ve picked to keep your garden looking beautiful all season long while keeping the deer at bay.
Getting Started: There are so many beautiful Allium plants available now. While Allium may look exotic they are really treated just like any other bulb. The bulbs are planted in the fall for late-spring and summer bloom. They add height and interest to your garden. Allium needs bright light and well-drained soil. They are hardy in garden zones 4-9 and come in many shades of purple, pink, blue, yellow and white.
Keep In Mind: When most people think of Alliums they are usually referring to the “Globemaster” or “Gladiator” varieties of the bulb which are the large purple, baseball-sized flowers that stand about 3 feet tall. However, there are a couple of other interesting Alliums available; Mount Everest, which is similar to Globemaster but comes in white; the Fireworks Mix whose blooms burst forth in yellow, white and pink and the Drumstick, a summertime bloomer with egg-shaped heads in a rich purple color.
Good Companions: These showstoppers look best when planted in masses of 10 to 12 bulbs and can be planted alongside Tulips and Dutch Irises. Foxgloves and Salvias also bloom at a similar time of the year as Alliums.
Bee Balm (Monarda)
Getting Started: Bee Balm is best known for its red flowers but there are also purple, pink and white varieties too. It is somewhat unique in that it does best in areas that get full sun but the soil must be kept moist to maximize its flowering potential. It can have a problem with powdery mildew if air can’t circulate around the leaves. This doesn’t hurt the plant but it can prevent the plant from looking its best. It is hardy in Zones 3-9.
Keep In Mind: It will grow vigorously in ideal conditions and in some situations it can be considered an invasive plant. If you have any concerns about growing it because of this characteristic you can place Bee Balm in a plastic container and sink the container in the ground. Bee Balm spreads from runners that come out from its root base and putting it in a container will minimize the ability of these runners to overwhelm your other plants. Spring is the ideal time to divide the plant and you usually have plenty of it to share with friends and family members.
Good Companions: To go along with Bee Balm try perennial Lobelia. Other good companions include Goldenrod and Caryopteris; both of which bloom in the fall after Bee Balm has faded.
Getting Started: Daffodils sometimes take a back seat to Tulips as the most popular spring flowering bulb. After all, a single red Tulip in bloom is capable of standing out in any flower bed and you probably need a mass planting of Daffodils to create the same impact. These bulbs are planted in the fall for spring blooms. They need well-drained soil and do best in a sunny condition. Daffodils survive for many years with little or no care. They are hardy in zones 3-8 but if you live in warmer USDA zones such as 8 through 11 you can still grow daffodils. You will need to put them in the refrigerator for a few weeks to simulate the cold period that they require and then you will plant the bulbs in December or January.
Keep In Mind: Daffodils are also more likely to multiply and over the years they can provide you, even more, bulbs to plant. Daffodil foliage continues for up to two months after the flowers have faded. Do not remove the foliage after blooming. This article on Daffodil clean up can help you with this process.
Good Companions: Snowdrops and Hyacinths are great companions to Daffodils and both are equally deer-resistant spring-flowering bulbs.
Lambs’ Ears (Stachys Byzantina)
Getting Started: Lamb’s Ears grow best in conditions that would cause most plants to “surrender” and the fact that it’s planted more for the beauty of its leaves than its flowers make it an attention getter in any garden. Most varieties grow 12 to 15 inches high which make it an ideal candidate for the edge of a flower bed and in the right spot it can act as a ground cover as well. It grows in USDA Zones 4 through 10 and while it is a lover of full sun in most situations it will benefit from a little shade in zones 8 through 10. It favors well-drained soils that are not enriched. For this plant the dryer and poorer the soil quality the better.
Keep In Mind: Too much moisture can cause the leaves to become diseased and it will also attract slugs which are one of the few pests that are attracted to this plant. As was mentioned previously it is grown primarily for the uniqueness of its leaves but Lamb’s Ears does produce flower spikes in late spring or early summer in most of the United States. These spikes are generally a shade of pink, purple or white and they are highly attractive to bees. Lamb’s Ears can become invasive and take over your flower bed. One way to combat this is to surround it with a barrier such as a metal or plastic landscaping edging which will help keep it contained. Finally, if you allow it to flower it can spread a lot of seeds so you may want to be sure to cut the flower spikes off as soon as the flowering has ceased.
Good Companions: Two flowers you can try with Lambs’ Ears are purple Coneflowers or yellow Coreopsis.
Getting Started: Yarrow is an easy plant to grow. There are many different varieties of Yarrow and they bloom all summer long. Most grow 2-3 feet tall. Yarrow is heat and drought tolerant and even does well in poor soil. Hardy in Zones 3-8. They come in many shades of purple, pink, blue, yellow and white.
Keep In Mind: Want to attract butterflies to your garden, make sure Yarrow is included. There are some Yarrows that can be invasive, but new varieties are not. Removing the spent flowers, a practice also known as deadheading will encourage new blooms. Make sure you divide your Yarrow every few years to refresh the plant.
Good Companions: Traditionally Yarrow came in yellow and white but with newer varieties you can now find pink, red and even bicolor. Consider planting them with Catmint or Lavender.