At the Forest Hill Heritage Community Garden we receive a lot of inquiries asking if a particular plant is deer proof or resistant.  Of course, nothing is off limits when deer are hungry, like in winter or when there are large populations that can overwhelm their and our environment at any time of the year, or they have acquired a taste for usually nasty tasting plants.  Having at least an 8-foot metal netted fence is an ideal solution with a matching metal roof, but that is not always enough with Foresthill’s large size properties that are common here.  

There are other ways to discourage deer and one is to own a dog, the scent strikes fear in some deer as well the barking and chasing them away.  Highly scented bars of soap help keep deer away.  Keep soap in wrapper, put in mesh bag or old stocking and hang soap from metal rod above the ground, occasionally vary its location.  Another method is motion detection sprinklers but you need to move their location or deer will get use to it.  You can also purchase precut Mylar strips and fasten it to tall stakes near your plants so they will flutter in the wind.  If you can’t locate these garden strips, you can buy a foil-like or Mylar balloon and cut it into strips. Along the same lines, you can also try stretching tight three fishing lines at 6, 12 and 18 inches high on wood stakes around your plant’s beds.  Deer can’t see it so when they bump into it, they turn rather than push against it or jump over especially in a small area.  Finally take away their favorite foods such as Hosta’s, impatiens, tulips and daylilies and keep these along with your vegetable garden behind a tall secure fencing.

Suggested Deer-resistant plants for our zone:

Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta, Bugleweed Ajuga spp., Dusty miller Senecio cineraria, Foxglove Digitalis spp., Marigold Tagetes spp., Purple coneflower Echinacea spp., Sage Salvia spp., Thyme Thymus spp., Tickseed Coreopsis spp., Wood fern Dryopteris spp., Yarrow Achillea spp., Shade--Serviceberry Amelanchier arborea (& sun), Christmas fern Polystichum acrostichoides, Deutzia Deutzia gracilis Chardonnay Pearls™, Lungwort Pulmonaria ‘Mrs. Moon’, Red-osier dogwood Cornus stolonifera, Stinking hellebore Helleborus foetidus, Columbine meadow rue Thalictrum aquilegiifolium, Daffodil Narcissus hybrids, Lady’s mantle Alchemilla mollis, Ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris. Sun--Goldenrod Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’, Deutzia Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’, Cosmos Cosmos sulphureus ‘Ladybird Scarlet’, Maiden grass Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’, Bellflower Campanula punctata ‘Cherry Bells’, Globe thistle Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’, Allium Allium aflatunense ‘Purple Sensation’, Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, Ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris.

Submitted by Marjene Streeper

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