Special to the OBSERVER
Over the last few years, we have fielded many calls from residents at their wits' end about how to prevent deer from eating their flowers and shrubs. Whether this problem stems from a growing deer population or that deer have become savvier about where to find the tastiest meals is not the topic of this article. Instead, to outwit these pesky critters, we are providing gardeners with the following list of plants that deer do not find as appealing as, say, your favorite tulips. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, "deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough leathery and/or hairy or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap." Keep in mind, too, even though deer prefer to browse plants that are more palatable, they will eat almost anything available when food sources are scarce, for example, during winters with deep snow and extremely cold weather. Try growing some of the suggested plants and sit back, relax, and enjoy the flowers that are not on Bambi's menu.
Annuals: Angel's Trumpet, Calendula, Dusty Miller, Snap Dragon, Spider Flower, Sweet Alyssum.
Herbaceous Perennials & Bulbs: *Anise Hyssop, *Bee Balm, *Black-Eyed Susan, *Fringed Bleeding Heart, Butterfly Bush, *Butterfly Milkweed, *Chives, *Purple Coneflower, Daffodils & Narcissi, Foxglove, *Goldenrod, *Hibiscus, Japanese Painted Fern, *Lamb's Ear, Lavender, Lenten Rose, Lily-of-the-Valley, *Monkshood, Peony, Rhubarb, Russian Sage, *Helen's Flower (Sneezeweed), *Tickseed Coreopsis, Wormwood.
Shrubs & Woody Plants: Boxwood, *Diablo Ninebark, Forsythia, *Inkberry Holly, *Junipers (most varieties), Lilac, Rose of Sharon, *Potentilla, Quince (Hardy), *Spirea, Tree Peony, Variegated False Holly, *Viburnum, Weigela.
Trees: *American Sycamore, *Birches, *Eastern Red Bud, *Eastern White Pine, Mugho Pine, *Red Maple, *Spruces.
*Denotes native N. American plant. In some cases, the genus may include both natives and introduced species.
For more in-depth information on deer-resistant landscaping, you can consult the following excellent resources. Dr. Mark Bridgen of Cornell University has a detailed fact sheet which includes plant genus and common names at www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/deerdef/bridgen_list.pdf , and Rutgers University has compiled a list of "Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance" at njaes.rutgers.edu/deerresistance/. If you are interested in growing deer-resistant native plants, go to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at www.wildflower.org/collections/collection.php?collection=deer, where you can narrow your search by state, plant type, and other criteria.
Colleen Cavagna, Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator and Terry Haas, Master Gardener