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Discouraging Bambi

Deer will eat any plant if they are hungry enough. However, like us, they find some foods more appetizing than others.

Deer will eat any plant if they are hungry enough. However, like us, they find some foods more appetizing than others. So, to discourage them, we need to populate our gardens with plants that are described as deer resistant. For spring bloom that includes any type of daffodils, hyacinths and hellebores. Lily of the Valley, columbine and euphorbia are also good candidates. The evergreen Austrian Pine, Pinus nigra provides a good backdrop for flowers and also anchors the landscape in winter.

Iris and peonies are excellent choices and peony bushes are useful planted as a barrier in front of less resistant plant specimens. Another deterrent is the small shrub Stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa’ which is 2 feet high and hardy in zones 3-8. Plant them in a curved or straight line as a buffer, and they will repay you with little white flowers in the spring and red/purple fall foliage. Low growing perennial catmint (Nepeta) is a good edging for beds and borders as it has soft grey foliage and blue/purple flowers and can be sheared back to stimulate repeat bloom. In the beds use the taller catmints, lavender, lamb’s ears and wormwood for grey foliage accents.

For showy flowers select monarda, salvia, Shasta daisy, yarrow, Joe Pye weed, veronica, and black eyed Susan. For fall display select the short plumbago and the tall airy Russian Sage. Some grasses, such as feather reed grass, are also possibilities. For extra insurance regularly spray deer repellent around the perimeter of the garden and at entry points.


Stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa’ is available from Wayside Gardens 1 800 845 1124

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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