I’m standing just inside my screen door watching a young doe and her fawn browse on plants that are suppose to be "deer resistant". They are only about 5 ft from me and not really doing much damage yet. I see deer all the time but I confess, I am mesmerized. The fawn is so cute and still covered with spots. Then the doe reaches up and takes a bite from my variegated hanging fuchsia. I have been meaning to spray it with deer repellent but just haven’t gotten around to it. I quietly say "Don’t eat that" from behind the screen door. She looks all around- up, down, sideways- but can’t figure out where the voice is coming from. Deciding she wants no more of the talking fuchsia she rambles on followed by her little one.
It’s frustrating living in deer country. Fencing is expensive and deer repellent sprays need to be applied on a regular basis to be effective. What is safe from browsing in one yard is breakfast in another. Don’t be discouraged. Plants like lavender, sage, canna and calla lily, erysimum, euryops, lysimachia and grasses are top performers around deer. But if you’re itching to add something new to your garden try one of these.
Agastache is a long-blooming perennial with leaves that smell like licorice, sprearmint or lemon depending on the species. Also called Orange Hummingbird Mint, Anise or Lemon Hyssop, the leaves can be used in teas and the flowers are a hummingbird favorite.Their strong odor and flavor repel deer. Most grow 2-3 ft tall in sun or partial shade, are drought tolerant, long-lived, insect and disease resistant, non-invasive and need no staking. They also thrive with little deadheading or dividing. What’s not to love about agastache?
Need a vigorous groundcover that can compete with tree roots? Ceratostigma plumbagiodes or Dwarf Plumbago grows in sun or shade. Being drought tolerant it’s a good choice under native oaks. Electric blue flowers are showy in summer and fall and are set off by rich scarlet autumn foliage as the weather cools. They look great in front of golden foliage plants like coleonema ‘Sunset Gold’. A light pruning in spring makes them look their best.s Easy to grow, spreading but not invasive, deer, pest and disease resistant they are true workhorses in the garden.
My last suggestion for a high-impact, low-care, deer resistant plant is Brilliance Autumn Fern. This is no ordinary looking fern. Striking as a specimen on it’s own or massed as a groundcover to create a glowing display, the fronds of this classy fern start out a shiny red-orange and hold the color long into the season before maturing to a glossy green. Combine these coppery new fronds with hellebore and ligularia to add zest to a container or shady garden. Another plus- they are pest free and not troubled by thrips that may infest other ferns like the western sword fern.
Add one of these new plants to your garden and welcome Bambi. We can all get along.