Plants for a Deer Resistant Garden: Here Comes the Sun

by Aug 3, 2017News0 comments

Plants for a Deer Resistant Garden: Here Comes the Sun

By Alex Hall, Leon Levy Native Garden Intern

Many people think deer resistant native plants are boring, green leafy foliage– however, there are many colorful, showy flowers that won’t be eaten by deer that are perfect for your sunny garden!

Cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis), is a bright yellow low-lying shrub to give interest to the ground-level of the garden. It is also available in pink and creamy varieties. Similarly sunny in color is Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata), with wispy green foliage in addition to its small yellow flowers. Deer don’t like this texture, so you may find that other plants with slightly pokey, thin, spear-like leaves may also escape their nightly browse!

On the taller side, asters (Aster spp.) are a beautifully elegant flower, boasting bright pink, purple and even blue blooms in late summer to early fall. The broader leaf varieties may be less deer-resistant than their thinner leaved cousins, like the variety “October Skies.” Another favorite tall perennial is Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea.), whose purple flowers bloom all summer long, attracting bees and butterflies, and their seed heads make a fine place to perch in the fall for smaller birds like finches. The bright magenta “pom-pom” shaped flowerhead of Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) not only brightens up your garden, but attracts butterflies, bees, and birds including hummingbirds. Also look for Wild Bergamot, a purple version of Bee Balm (M. fistulosa). Asters, Coneflowers, and Bee Balms are all prolific spreaders– allowing you to fill in a garden over time by dividing and transplanting (or gifting your friends some native plants!).

The ultimate deer-resistant native plant is Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa). A native cactus, this groundcover will do well where many others won’t– punishing hot, dry, sandy or rocky soils. Its beautiful yellow flowers open and close with the sun, and if you don a pair of sturdy leather gloves you can even harvest the fruit!

Now that you are armed with knowledge about native deer-resistant native plants, it’s time to start pulling those invasive plants and design a garden that won’t be a deer’s next meal– but could be the next meal for birds and bees.

Want help designing your deer-resistant native garden? Consider becoming a member at the Great Blue Heron level to receive a landscape consultation with our Leon Levy Native Garden team.

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