I love to watch deer play in their natural habitat and living in the south, venison is often on the dinner menu at my house. The one thing I don’t like about the graceful woodland creatures is their appetite for my tasty garden plants. Since I’ve discovered via trial and error which plants deer love and which ones they hate, the four-legged, plant marauders aren’t a problem in my landscape, but I know for many of my gardening clients their number one problem is deer. While no plant is one hundred percent deer-proof, there are at least a dozen plants deer hate and usually won’t eat. Plant some of these around the perimeter of your garden to act as a deer deterrent for your more valued flowers and vegetable plants, or just use these plant to create a Bambi-proof garden.
* Agastache, also called hummingbird mint, (Agastache aurantiaca) agastache produces spikes of fragrant flowers in a variety of bloom colors. Plant reaches a mature height of 12-60 inches, depending on variety planted.
* Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa L.) loves full sun, reaches a mature height of 2 feet and produces clusters of small orange flowers that attract butterflies.
* Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) grows into a large bush of about 15 feet and produces fragrant spikes of purple flowers all summer that attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
* Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) perennial that produces single, daisy-like flowers atop 2 feet tall stem. Blooms all summer and attracts butterflies.
* Bee balm (Monardra didyma) grows best in damp soil and partial shade. Tall-growing, perennial plant produces fragrant red or purple blooms that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
* Black-eyed Susan (Rudbekia hirta) is an easy-to-grow garden favorite that deer hate. Yellow petals surround a dark brown center atop a 1-2 foot tall stem.
* Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) drought-tolerant, deciduous bush that can reach heights of 20 feet and be used as small shade trees. Bloom spikes consist of multitudes of crepe-like blooms in a variety of colors during the late summer.
* Coneflower (Echinacea) colorful, flat blooms last for about 2 months during the summer on these native perennials that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
* Globe thistle (Echinops) produces a perfectly round flower-head on 3 feet tall stems. Drought-tolerant, easy-care perennial that slowly self-seeds itself.
* Heliotrope (Heliotropium) drought and heat tolerant, heliotrope produce clusters of fragrant white or purple flowers. Plants can reach up to 4 feet tall.
* Thyme (Thymus) white-blooming herb that can be harvested, dried and used in a variety of recipes.
* Verbena (Verbena) comes in a variety of plant sizes that range from trailing vines to 10 feet tall shrubs. Long-blooming, heat-tolerant purple flowers are typically not on menu for hungry deer.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The National Gardening Association