“What can I plant that deer won’t eat?” It is one of the most frequently asked questions here at the garden center as the deer population in central Ohio are a constant threat to our gardens as they search for food sources. And it’s a very good question! Sadly, there are hardly any cultivated plants that are totally resistant, but deer do have certain favorites and others that they will less likely touch.
If looking into trees and shrubs for the landscape, here are a few to consider: for low growing attractive plants for foundation, entrance, and patio plantings, boxwood are one of the best choices. It has lush, vibrant green foliage that stays throughout the winter and can easily be maintained to certain shapes and sizes, often used as a low hedge. Dwarf Alberta Spruce is another evergreen that is more upright and conical in nature and is relatively small (about 6’ in height at maturity) and great for anchoring foundation and entrance plantings. To add some color to the landscape, consider potentilla, very attractive compact shrub with yellow, white, orange, or pink flowers depending on variety, that keep blooming throughout the summer! Barberries have foliage of vibrant color – red, orange, or yellow – some small and spreading, some upright, and all considered some of the most deer resistant shrubs available. For some larger shrubs in the border, consider Forsythia, an extremely hardy shrub known for its early golden flower; Blackhaw Viburnum, a natural looking taller shrub; Bottlebrush Buckeye, a shrub-type that has gorgeous yellow flowers; and Serviceberry, known for its early white flower and awesome red fall color. Magnolias, a staple of the landscape, also have great deer resistance. Butterfly Bush would be a great choice, and they provide flowering most of the summer and known for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds!
For perennial flowers and color, we fortunately have quite a few popular plants to choose from that deer tend not to bother. Firstly, ornamental grasses are considered safe and are staples of the landscape with majestic and graceful foliage and flower that lasts through the winter. Consider Coneflowers, Shasta Daisies, Salvia, Sedum, Geranium, Coreopsis, and Blanket Flower for some great options that flower most of the summer! Columbine and Bleeding Hearts are favorites that bloom this time of year. And for early flower Helleborus (Lenten Rose) are hard to beat as they start blooming as early as February! Peonies, a favorite for their summer blooms, are also good choices. For shady conditions, Astilbe, with their vibrant early summer flower, ferns and brunnera with attractive foliage, make great options.
It is also important to keep in mind that one of the best ways to keep deer from the garden is applying a repellent around and in those areas; we would be happy to help you choose the one most appropriate for your needs.
-Provided by Oakland New Albany