What do your deer NOT eat?

weedwoman(z6 NJ)April 29, 2013

What garden flowers do your deer dislike? I'm moving some of my deer attracters inside a fence, and I need something to replace them with. I'd like to get other people's experiences with plants I may not have grown. Most of my yard is part shade but I'll consider anything.

Plants my deer don't bother at all: Iris, Bleeding Heart, ferns, ornamental grasses(!), Astilbe, Cimicifuga, Amsonia, Euphorbia, Daffodils, Cannas, Clematis, Autumn Crocus, Peony, Alliums, Hellebores, Mayapples, Variegated Solomon's Seal, Honesty.

Plants they LOOOOOVE: Hosta, Tulips, Daylilies and true lilies, Phlox. Sometimes they nibble on sedums, asters, and shasta daisies but they don't usually destroy them completely.

Funny, now that I look at it, I didn't realize my list of deer resistant plants was so long. It's just that I really like daylilies, tulips, lilies and hostas. And of course maybe I just have picky (or well fed) deer. What's your experience?


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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

My theory is that really hungry deer will eat almost anything, and with a nibble here and a nibble there, really toxic plants are not ingested enough to deter them.
Starving deer will even eat red cedar, and the toxins in the cedar kill the normal bacterial populations all such animals need. The deer die, unable to digest what they have stuffed into their stomach, and of starvation.
Interestingly enough, they do not seem to eat grasses.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 8:57PM
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I've never or seldom seen deer damage on Illicium, Clerodendron, flowering quince, Weigelia, Spiraea, Lagerstroemia, Cephalotaxus, Tsuga, Pinus, Poncirus, Begonia grandis, Zantedeschia, Crinum, Opuntia, Cornus, Bignonia, Gelsemium, Buxus, Ilex, etc.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 9:26PM
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They avoid aromatics--some of which are known for beautiful flowers as well (lavender, and rosemary where hardy), you can always plant the hardy cactus which are covered in beautiful yellow lowers in June. Other flowers that are same are bleeding heart, columbines, day lilies, daffodils, iris, lungwort and rhododendros. There are lots actually. But sometimes I will find things damaged that they are not supposed to touch (but may not always just be deer!) Flowers to protect from deer--azaleas, hibiscus, camellia, roses, hydrangea, HOSTA. Mine seem to love Euonymus japonica best of all.--I give p on that one. Would move them into the house but the deer would only be breaking into the house to eat them!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:31PM
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weedwoman(z6 NJ)

Thanks, everybody. Some good ideas here. I need to try the hardy begonias again, for one thing. Unfortunately I don't have enough sun for most of the aromatics (or the cactus, probably) but I should have added to my list Caryopteris. My deer have never touched that.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 2:10AM
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Try Queen Cleomes (Cleome hassleriana)! The deer stay clear of them, probably because they have needle-like spikes on the stalks. Though they are annuals, mine have reseeded for years. The spidery flowers in whites, pink and purples last through the summer. They can grow quite tall, depending on the variety. Mine grow to about three feet tall, just take that into account before you plant!
Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:42AM
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