Deer resistant plants

ksokiegonnab(z6, OK)February 26, 2009

I know I've seen a thread about deer resistant plants here, but the search yielded nothing useful. I would appreciate a link. I'm afraid this predicted warm day today is going to get me 'in the mood' beyond recall!

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I have found that the deer here will eat many plants that are on the lists of deer resistant plants, but at least the lists give you a starting point.

And, don't let today fool you. It is going to be in the 70s and 80s today, but many of us have a freeze in the forecast for overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, so keep that in mind when purchasing and planting.

In our home landscape, deer simply devour most veggies, especially okra, pepper plants, tomato plants, pumpkin and squash plants, swiss chard, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, etc. They don't touch many herbs like basil, parsley, catmint, lemon balm, borage, catnip, sage, oregano, etc.

They do eat hollyhocks, sunflowers (eat them right down to the ground), hardy hibiscus, begonias, nasturtiums, daturas, and hostas, but they don't eat four o'clocks, verbena bonariensis, dusty miller, most salvias, cleome, cannas, zinnias, veronica, honeysuckle, iris, shasta daisies, morning glories, moonflower vine, sweet alyssum, globe amaranth, celosias and amaranths, black-eyed susan vine, cypress vine, cardinal climber vine, mina lobata and canary creeper vine. At our house they will browse on Texas Red Star hibiscus and Castor Bean foliage, but don't care as much for those and usually stop after they eat a couple of leaves.

The shrubs we have that they seldom nibble include Burford Holly, Stokes Yaupon Holly, Possumhaw Holly, American Beautyberry, Southern Wax Myrtle, dwarf nandinas, and dwarf junipers.

The worse the conditions in terms of drought or just a lack of available browse in the wintertime, the more the deer will nibble plants (out of desperation) that they don't normally bother.

At our house they generally don't bother American Cross Vine, Wisteria, both the orange and yellow-flowered Trumpet Creeper or coral honeysuckle. They also don't eat purple wintercreeper.

I have the worst trouble in early spring when the deer are desperate for ANYTHING and they tend to nibble and sometimes devour anything I plant, no matter what it is, so most of the plants I care about go into an area with a 7' tall fence. Once Apr./May arrive and there is significant green-up of native vegetation, they generally won't bother as many varieties of plants as they do in Feb./Mar.

In general, the deer don't bother native plants and hybrids developed from native plants as much as they devour exotic, expensive, imported ones.

I have linked one list for you below. You can google "deer resistant plants" and get many other such lists.

Here is a link that might be useful: One List of Deer Resistant Plants

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 9:15AM
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ksokiegonnab(z6, OK)

Thank You. I don't know why I can't seem to remember to Google before I ask. I found the OSU list helpful, too. After moving my hydrangeas to their new OK home, I learned they must be tasty. Ditto roses. Thank goodness iris seem to be "safe". I didn't see daylilies on any of the lists I checked (doesn't mean it wasn't there) but before I plant a bed of them I want to be sure I'm not just laying out a smorgasboard. Since I often see huge clumps of the old fashioned orange ones blooming around abandoned farmhouses, I am hoping that their relatives are also resistant. What is your experience? What about crapemyrtle?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 9:27AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


You're welcome. Don't google too much--often the lists can be contradictory and confusing and the more lists you look at the worse it gets!

At our house, the deer generally do not both roses or daylilies, but in many people's yards they do bother them. Daylilies are said to be eaten a lot by deer, but I had daylilies in a remote (unirrigated) location far from the house and the deer didn't nibble at them. That won't be an issue any more because I am pretty sure the 2007-08-09 drought here has killed them.

Crape myrtle is very deer-resistant but you have to remember that the hungrier deer are, the more they'll eat. So, while they might not eat crape myrtle 9 years out of 10, they may eat it during that one very "hungry" year when there is a prolonged drought period and little for the deer to eat.

In a wet or rainy year we won't even see deer (or any deer sign) from early spring through the beginning of winter. In a dry year, though, they come into the yard and eat landscape plants every chance they get--often one, two or more times daily. So, you just have to plant what you think will grow, and then hope the deer cooperate.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 4:22PM
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Much like Dawn, I've found that deer will eat pretty much anything when they are hungry enough! :-( When I lived out in a highly populated deer area, I couldn't grown any roses because they ate them all (this was in Oregon...maybe the deer in Oklahoma have a different palate?!). Things I grew that didn't get demolished were: nepeta (catmint), lady's mantle, iris, zinnias, verbena bonariensis, poppies, cosmos, other herbs, azaleas. If I remember more, I'll post again...

I also just read an article in the last edition of Organic Gardening that had "25 plants deer won't eat" or something like that, but I can't find the magazine right now... I don't know if the articles are available online, but you might check their site. And, if I run into it I will post their list. I'm pretty sure gaillardia was on there...

Good luck!


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:30PM
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Okay - I found the Organic Gardening magazine, and here is their list. Who knows whether or not they are really deer proof, but it's a reputable magazine.

They say the more unappealing the foliage is, the better. Some of the plants on their list may not do well here in Oklahoma (I think the author is out of California), but it's food for thought... They are listed by reasons why deer don't like them.

Poisonous: Hellebores, some Ferns, daffodils, snowdrops, autumn crocus,

Foul Smelling (at least to deer): rosemary, lavender, catmint, salvias, mint-family members

Annoying Foliage: Spurge, lamb's ear, cleome, scented geranium, scabiosa, yarrow, blue oat grass, sea holly

Others: ornamental alliums, peonies, butterfly weed, bluestars, verbascum, artemisia, ornamental grasses

They also listed a website to check out:

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 6:54PM
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ksokiegonnab(z6, OK)

Will I be wasting my time with sweet peas? I probably will not be able to keep the deer away. I want them for picking. I have an old gate on which I would like to grow them.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 11:47AM
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