Category Archives: Deer resistant plants

Not tonight Deer

Those who listen to my radio show or watch my television segments have asked me for a list of MY favorite deer resistant plants. I live in an area with a fair amount of deer pressure. I use repellants, however I have found that incorporating deer resistant plants in my landscape helps minimize the browsing. Bambi’s appetite can cost me “deerly” as in “bucks” not to mention the frustration of spring foliage munched just as they were putting on a show. That’s why in my landscape I incorporate plants from my “Not tonight Deer” list of favorites to discourage the deer from using my yard as a buffet.

Rick’s “Not tonight Deer” favorite plants (Note: this is not a complete list of rarely damaged plants but are plants I try to work in throughout my landscape to reduce deer browsing)

  • Alliums
  • Achillea
  • Ornamental Chives
  • Anemone
  • Bergenia
  • Brunnera
  • Carex
  • Cimicifuga
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Fritillaria
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Lamium
  • Myosotis
  • Echinacea or Rudbeckia
  • Hellebores
  • Perovskia or Russian Sage
  • Nepeta
  • Narcissus
  • Iris
  • Stachys byzantina Lambs Ears
  • Thyme and Oregano
  • Hakonechloa
  • Heuchera and Tiarella
  • Gomphrena
  • Nicotiana
  • Ornamental Grasses (Calamagrostis to Miscanthus to Pennisetum)
  • Viburnum
  • Spruce
  • Beech
  • Dogwood
  • Lilac
  • Wisteria
  • Hydrangea
  • Deciduous Azaleas
  • Rosa Rugosa

Superior Firepower

With the predictions of heavy snow this winter, by the time spring comes along deer pressure will be significant on your emerging hostas and tulips….that’s where you need superior firepower in your garden….Milorganite.

Bill Murray may have used bags of Milorganite as furniture in his hangout, but Milorganite is the trademark of a biosolids Fertilizer produced by theMilwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. It makes a great lawn fertilizer and can aid as a deer deterrent from browsing on your prized landscape plants while feeding at the same time.

I have a friend on the east coast who slits open bags of Milorganite in late fall and leaves them setting out all winter. In spring he scoops the slimy sludge out of the bags and spreads it around his emerging hostas as both a fertilizer and deterrent. He claims it works like a charm, Hostas treated in this manner are untouched whereas Hostas untreated become Bambi’s all you can eat buffet in spring. I might suggest super charging your firepower by additionally working in some blood meal. Remember to bring a clothespin to plug your nose when it comes time to scoop the sludge next spring. Your superior firepower may result in the “Deerly departed” around your landscape next spring!

Not tonight Deer!

After a long cold winter followed by a late cold wet spring, deer are good and hungry for any blooming taste treats that might pop up in your yard. A perfect example is tulips which taste better than candy to Bambi. For some early blooming perennials that don’t end up being a snack it’s “Not tonight Deer” when it comes to these early bloomers….all favorites of mine………

Deer resistant Early blooming Perennials

Hellebore or Lenten Rose in bloom

Hellebore (tight shot)

Brunnera Jack Frost

Pulmonaria or Lungwort

Dicentra or Bleeding Heart


Deer….let’s go someplace else…..

It’s bulb planting season….or as some would see it time to set out a buffet for the hungry deer next spring. True….spring flowering bulbs like tulips in flower are tastier than candy for Bambi….especially when planted in a bed of Hosta. You don’t however have to throw in the “trowel” on spring flowering bulbs. I would suggest the following deer resistant flowering bulbs in your landscape before your effort and money are “deerly” departed…….

Scilla pronounced sil-uh

Allium (in the onion family)

Eranthus (Winter Aconite)

Fritillaria (smelly...hold your nose...but beautiful)

Narcissus and Iris

Puschkinia pronounced push-kin-ee-uh

Chiondoxa pronounced kye-oh-no-doks-uh or call it "Glory of the snow"



In addition to these suggested deer resistant bulbs, I recommend you inter-plant some deer resistant perennials….try plants from the following list:

  • Hellebores
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Bergenia
  • Achillea
  • Lamium
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Russian Sage
  • Lavender
  • Lambs Ear
  • Carex
  • Mountain Garlic
  • Japanese Anemone

For additional plants, click on “Deerly Departed” at the top of my home page and you’ll find a link to a Michigan State bulletin listing rarely damaged plants.