Garden Q&A: Deer-proof plants hard to find
Question: Last summer, I planted geraniums around the house and on graves at a nearby cemetery only to find that deer would come in frequently and eat off the flowers, leaving only empty stems standing above the leaves even after I had sprayed the plants periodically with commercial deer repellents. I would like to know what flowering annual(s) you can recommend to plant in areas like this where deer and other animals are a problem.
Answer: No plant is totally deer-proof, especially because each herd has its own feeding preferences and habits. And, depending on how hungry they are, they are often willing to try almost anything once.
There are, however, some annuals that the deer seldom feed on, no matter where you live.
Look for annuals with fuzzy or hairy foliage. Rub the plant's foliage between your finger and thumb. If you feel small bristly or soft hairs there, it's a good bet the deer won't eat it. Annuals that fit into this category include tuberous begonias, heliotrope, ageratum, dusty Miller, flowering tobacco (Nicotiana), and licorice plant.
Next, look for annuals that have heavily fragranced foliage. Deer, like people, eat with their noses first. A very aromatic plant is often a turn-off for deer. Most members of the herb family fit into this category. Annual flowering herbs that would be suitable for deer territory include the salvias, calendula, dill and lantana.
Deer also tend to avoid plants with thick, fibrous foliage. Wax and angelwing begonias fit into this category and are good choices for shade or partial-shade areas, as are caladiums. Snow-on-the-mountain is a good choice for sun.
Deer dislike grasses because they are difficult to digest and their sharp edges make for tough eating. Annual grasses, such as red fountain grass, pink Muhly grass and hare's tail grass, would work in areas that receive full to partial sun.
There are a handful of other annuals that are consistently deer-resistant in my own garden. They include love-in-a-mist (nigella), tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis), larkspur, snapdragons and celosia.
Most of these plants should be available at many local garden centers over the coming weeks.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers should corner the market at NFL Draft
- 2 men hospitalized in seperate shootings in Pittsburgh
- Latrobe baseball routs Connellsville to move closer to WPIAL playoff berth
- Arnold, New Kensington drug busts net 2 arrests, heroin, cocaine, cash
- Most talent in NFL Draft play at Steelers’ positions of need
- Monessen buys four heavy duty trucks
- Leechburg softball wins, ties WPIAL record with 29th consecutive playoff berth
- Hammel, Cubs shut down Pirates, snapping 5-game winning streak
- Penguins’ Pouliot learns from rookie season
- BVA stadium upgrades OK’d
- New Kensington-Arnold to revisit superintendent’s fate