Deer resistant suggestions for zone 5???

krafty(z5 IL)March 27, 2005

Hello fellow gardeners...

I am in zone 5 (Chicago area)and have just moved out to the country where I now face the problem of Deer eating my plants. I have a large border around the edge of my driveway that I would like to fill with lower growing flowers (like impatiens) that are perennial with lots of color and that the deer will not touch...any suggestions??

Many Thanx in advance...Happy Gardening :)

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joepyeweed(5b IL)

deer usually stay away from plastic plants and astro turf :-)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2005 at 10:22PM
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surf_grrl(coastal Van Isl)

My yard is apparently some sort of Club Med for deer i.e. they really, really like coming here (and to boot, they'll just stand there eating and staring at you while you tell them off).

I don't know which of these suit your climate, but colourful perennial (or bulb) plants the deer have not eaten in my garden include:

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Tropaeolum (Nasturtium - but maybe they were just too hard to reach)
Narcissus (Daffodil)
Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)
Digitalis (Foxglove)
Scilla (Bluebell - although they do munch the leaves)
Papaver orientale (Poppy)
Hypericum (St John's Wort)

I have no plastic plants or astroturf, but I suspect they might take a pass on those too.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 6:47PM
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kitova(z6 NJ)

we have deer in our yard every day. i spend my time filling in deer tracks! after two years of sorrow and shovel pruning, i have developed a certain level of confidence that they will not touch:

bulbs: daffodils
annuals: marigolds
perennials: coreopsis, peony, dianthus, foxglove, lavender, bearded iris, poppy

btw, they make a beeline to my dahlias here. my list is short but you're almost guaranteed they will not touch the above.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 8:48AM
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surf_grrl(coastal Van Isl)

Deer are funny. They eat kitova's dahlias, they leave mine alone. They turn up their noses at Kitova's coreopsis, but they ate mine down to nubs.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 10:55PM
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kitova(z6 NJ)

lolol, i just read somewhere that someone's local deer ate their peonies!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 11:53AM
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I live in Zone 4 just on the edge of town and I have been having numerous problems with deer coming into my yard and leaving land mines. Not only that, but they have destroyed two of my fruit trees by splitting them. I am through with them and have done a lot of research.

I decided to buy the wireless deer fence which consists of three posts and a lure that you put onto the post. It smells strong and if you think the shock is no worse than a 9 volt battery you're wrong. It takes about an hour to charge each post which uses 2 AA batteries.

I didn't think it was charged and touched it, talk about the same feeling you would get if you touched an electrical socket wire while the electricity was still on.

So if any deer do come into the yard they will smell it and come near, once they touch it they'll never want to come back to my yard. LOL They're small so if you have rabbit problems they can easily reach it and get shocked.

You can learn more about it at and I think it's well worth your money. So far I have not seen any presence of deer around and it's working very well. I have them spaced around my trees, garden and no signs of any destruction.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 5:16PM
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Adding to Surf Girl's list I have had no problem with:

day lily
angel's trumpet
blanket flower
oriental poppy (but they nip the buds of iceland poppy)
blue oat grass
blue fescue
echinea (cone flower)
For 5 long years they never bothered my mass of hosta's and last year they ate them to the ground. Go figure!!
I now use a spray of water with a few drops of peppermint oil and that keeps them at bay. May work for you.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 1:49PM
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potterhead2(z5b NY)

Check out this website by Cornell University. It covers fencing, deterrents, and an extensive plant list.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reducing Deer Damage

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 1:51PM
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Hungry deer will eat anything!

I have a herd of about 24 (not sure until later in Spring) that routinely visit my yard (an acre in semi-rural suburbia). The only plants that are safe, are those that are protectected by some sort of fencing.

Plants that are deer candy include: asian lillies, aurelian lillies, daylillies(hemerocallis), chrysanthemums, impatiens, hostas, PJM Rhododendrons, tulips, azaleas, and roses.

Plants that are survival food include: forsythia, privet, hellebores, yuccas, peonies, holly, cranberry viburnum(V. trilobum), blueberries, jack-in-the-pulpit, solomon's seal, and forget-me-nots.

Houseplants (outdoors during warmer months) that get eaten include: dieffenbachia (dumb cane), pathos, philodendron, christmas cactus, and spider plants.

Uneaten plants include: foxglove(digitalis), globe thistle, daffodills, some ferns (not all though), prairie sage, dusty miller, japanese barberry, oregano, and big trees.

Please understand, I'm in the metro NY area and the deer have greatly exceeded the carrying capacity of the land (by a factor of 10+ or so). Fencing is the best alternative for me (sprays don't seem to work), and even that has problems for me. Village doesn't want fences along the road frontage(so I'm stuck with 75% exclusion).

I'm thinking about trying to use red-twig dogwood (and other species-gray), bayberry (Myrica), oregon grape (mahonia), and fenced plantings of vines (virginia creeper), in an effort to rebuild an understory(there isn't one anymore-I can see through it for hundreds of feet).

Deer will eat whatever they need to in order to survive---too many deer = habitat destruction. (IMHO) Some form of control is needed (more predators), harsher winters, or human intervention.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 11:18PM
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Jak43(5 NY)

Well, if deer don't eat Daffodils - will someone tell me who does? I planted a bunch of bulbs last fall at our home in Upstate NY (near Monticello) - two of my "beds" have lovely crocus, tulips and grape hyacinth sprouting up - while my biggest bed (number 3), that had crocus, daffodils and tulips planted were chomped down to the numbs by SOMETHING!! - Whatever it was, it left the bulbs in the ground. - We do not have rabbits - lots of squirrels, deer, bear, raccoon, geese, birds.... I assumed it was the deer.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 3:24PM
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krafty(z5 IL)

Thank you ALL for your WONDERFUL advice and ideas. I will definately keep them in mind. I think a little bit of all the ideas should do the trick :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 12:02PM
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my deer are moose and they love the dogwoods.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 8:07PM
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Jak43(5 NY)

They have dogwoods in Alaska?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 10:14AM
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I know deer love tulips and holly. You could put in a mulch barrier around parts of your property and also plant closer to the home. I think once you got them its hard to get rid of them. Also watch out because they bring in the deer ticks. (Lyme disease)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 4:00PM
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sauna(6 nw arkansas)

i am in a town that the deer cannot get out of , and we are creating mutant deer...these are the things they leave alone in my yard...they will walk over these plants to eat one in the center of the plantings that they like...

all ornamental grasses
all artemesias...though they eat limelight
all sages
parsley sage rosemary thyme catmint santolina marjoram
all allium bulbs
daffodils...they will leave grape hyacynth flowers alone, but eat the usually no flowers...opposite with hyacynts...they eat the flower, leave the green alone

star of bethlehem...
crown imperial bulbs
wisely blue ipheion
glory of the snow
lily of the valley (though they ate them to the ground last summer for the first time ever...came up healthier this year than ever before...go figure)
forget me nots

butterfly bush
bridal wreath spirea...ate all others i have tried
kerria japonica

sweet woodruff
celendine poppy

ferns of all kinds

arum italicum
siberian iris...only for bearded and dutch iris like crazy
creeping tall phlox
sweet rocket
lady's mantle

scotch broom

poppy's annual or perennial

lemon balm, mints
anmosia? blue star
monarda...the lavendar gets nibbled...the red left alone always

trumpet creeper

so far, lace vine...but only a one year attempt

meadow rue

joe pye weed
toad flax...yellow
bleeding heart
solomons seal...varigated


tansy, fewerfew, jackpot tansy, golden tansy....tansy's

chammomile...not true...but golden margueritte?


sweet rocket
money plant
lambs ear
rose campion
russian sage
and that is off the top of my head...of course these are what my mutant deer in a small town in northwest arkansas, zone 6 do not eat...yours will eat some of these, but one year...this year i thought to just plant five dollar bills in front of a hundred, bury a few coins, and maybe a ten dollar bill here and there, and lo and behold after five years of planting planting planting, i finally have a the next two years will be moving the plants around so they look good...ah, will it never end...

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 12:52AM
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If I get up early enough, I can watch the mother deer giving her children a tour of my beds. "No, no, not that-- *this* is much more tasty." I've finally resorted to deer netting around particular beds, and what a difference!

I have also had a problem with bunnies, who eat the stuff the deer don't. Then there's the woodchuck, who loves all the stuff the others leave behind. (Early achillea flowers)

My deer love:
daylilies of any kind
tulips tulips tulips
lily of the valley
bluetooth hydrangea
some coreopsis (zagreb seems safe)
black-eyed susan

My deer seem to dislike:
cranesbill geranium
some ferns (I've resorted to tromping around the woods behind my house and digging up what I find there)
sweet woodruff
some sedum (NOT autumn joy)
butterfly weed
maybe coral bells-- not sure if it's the bunnies or the deer who eat this one.
bleeding heart

good luck!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 6:40AM
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We have deer in the yard almost every nite..They're so generous, too, bringing ticks right up to the front door so my 2 and 5 yr-old daughters can meet them. My deer love: some hosta (shoots)..some hostas OK, holly, some boxwood (wider, thicker leaved variety), yews (of course), euonymous (emerald gaiety, winter creeper)..tulip (buds--they don't eat them after they're open)...rhodies (white flowered variety)..I've had good luck rotating two commercially avail. sprays (one cinnamon/clove, one egg-based)..the trick is to keep up the spraying especially in early spring when hostas and tulips are coming up..

This past winter I did see the remains of two deer that I suspect were taken by coyotes. Gardening nuisance aside, I believe we must manage the deer population in certain areas because of the threat of Lyme disease and auto accidents, and their impact on other native species that need a diverse and healthy understory. If anyone knows of a group committed to deer control, I'll join it.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 10:20AM
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The latest edition of Fine Gardening has listings by area of deer resistant plants.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 8:47PM
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UncleJerry(Z8 MS)

My biggest problem with deer is them eating my young fruit trees. They seem to love apple the best, and pear and plum after that. They don't care much for persimmon though. I have to put hog wire around them, and when they get taller than that, I add another ring on top of it so they can't reach the top. I put two rows of the wire around my garden to keep them out.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 10:01PM
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I just returned from vacation to find the deer had eaten all the buds from roses (20+ of them), my largest dinner plate dahlia buds, echinecea, rudbeckia, phlox, helianthus, asters, all asiatic lilly buds, mock orange, viburnum, spirea, yucca, kale, beets, peas and even some tomatoes! I know this was not the question you asked but I had to vent. Uuugh. I even put down dried blood and rotten eggs around garden perimeters before I left. Lousy deer. I used to think they were pastoral...ha!

They seemed not to prefer kinophea (sp?), budelia, artemsia, russian sage, or centurea but I wouldn't put anything past them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 7:36PM
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echoes_or(Zone 3)

Check out

Put your zone in and it will come up with deer/plant lists. I have found it's pretty accurate also.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2005 at 5:34PM
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I tie strands of human hair on my plants, and although I have "hairy plants" on close inspection, it definitely keeps the deer away. Doesn't wash off like repellents after it rains. My experience is that the deer will eat anything if they are hungry, especially the buds of my daylillies and flox. The hair has definitely kept them away since so far they have only eaten plants that don't have the hair on them yet. (I have some trouble finding long hair once I have cleaned out everyones brush at home!)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 9:12AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I don't think I have enough hair to protect the garden I am anticipating next year. I would probably look like "Mr. Clean".

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 9:28PM
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Suzinthecountry(z5 NY)

I'm in zone 5 in NY. Deer have been eating mostly everything. This is what they've left alone:

Aquilegia canadensis and hybrids
Coreopsis verticillata
Solidago 'Fireworks;
Salvia "Cardonna'
Pieris japonica
Spirea japonica 'Anthony Waterer'
Lynis coronoria
Euphorbia dulcis
Nepeta x fassenni
Miscanthus sinensis
Achillea ' Moonbeam'
Dicentra 'Luxuriant'

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 9:45PM
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Mine eat the native Christmas ferns, daffodils, solomon's seal, and toad lily. They prefer my variegated taod lily and solomon's seal. They prefer flower buds to leaves on most anything. I formerly thought some plants were "safe." I compiled lists and re-landscaped, using what I thought were resistant plants. The deer will leave them alone for a while, then eat them. It seems to be about how hungry they are. It also seems to help to put enough repellant spray on to take your yard off their preferred dining list. Deer take the asme paths, cycling thru every 1-3 days. If you spray everything heavily, they will change path and leave you out. You must continue to spray at periphery of property, becasue they will occasionlally come back to sample again. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 4:34PM
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galen1115(z5 MO)

Molasses Grass planted on your property helps a lot. Real oil of pepperment is good. Not pepperment extract. Get it at a health food store. Irish Spring soap shreaded like cheese and spread around is good. But a 30.06 is the best.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 10:18PM
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littlebitofheaven(New Jersey)

The deer literally live on our property. We have about 20 that are on the property all of the time, not just passing through. They do not eat my Rhododendron called "Olga" (a daphne pink color). They do not eat Coreopsis "Moonbeam" (yellow). I will be trying Toad Lilies next (Tricyrtis Hirta) which look like orchids and love shady gardens (which is one of my other problems). Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 2:28PM
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tyshee(Z 3 & 4)

Better a deer in your beds that a huge pregnant moose. Tulips attract the deer family as do young emerging lilies so I use wire over the beds that have things they like. I also have raspberries, serviceberry, mountian ash and other things they like fenced in during the winter and spring to keep them out of favorites. They don't like red bud, flowering plum and things that tend to have natural arsnic in them. They leave many of the plants mentioned above alone. You can also spray your bulbs and plants with deer skydd purchased at the nursery and that seems to help. I painted all my rose bushes with it and I had less damage.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 9:15AM
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