Frustrated because deer are devouring your expensive landscaping, but not willing to install a deer fence? Then put daylilies, roses, hostas, tulips, and lilies out of your mind (unless you’re prepared to put them in containers close to the house, where they can be protected). Since deer have sensitive noses that tend to be irritated by overly pungent odors, most herbs — including butterfly bushes, lavender, yarrows, salvias, boxwoods, and thymes — are usually deer-safe. Deer also tend to leave alone ferns and grasses, as well as daffodils, hellebores, and aconitums, which are poisonous to mammals. (The list of deer-safe plants varies regionally, so check your local Cooperative Extension office.)
The plan here is suitable for sunny gardens in Zones 5 to 8, and includes popular shrubs and perennials that deer usually leave alone. Prepare the soil thoroughly, adding plenty of organic matter such as compost; water deeply and apply an organic mulch.
Key to Plan
1. Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii ‘Purple Emperor’). 1 plant; 4′ to 5′ tall; dark mauve flowers; silvery foliage; attractive to butterflies. Deciduous shrub.
2. Butterfly bush (Bddleja dvidii ‘Peacock’). 1 plant; 4′ to 5′ tall; rich pink flowers; silvery leaves. Deciduous shrub.
3. Milky bellflower (Campanula lactiflora ‘Loddon Anna’). 3 plants, set of 18″ to 24″ apart; 36″ tall; pink bell-shaped flowers bloom for several weeks. Perennial.
4. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Razzmatazz’). 3 plants, set 18″ apart; 30″ tall; double, rosy pink flowers all summer; good cut flower. Perennial.
5. Anise hyssop (Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’). 2 groups of 3 plants, each set 18″ apart; 36″ tall; upright stems topped with powder blue flowers, long-blooming foliage. Perennial.
6. Purple maiden grass (Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’). 2 plants set singly; 36″ to 48″ tall; lightly arching foliage has purple cast, turns reddish when cold. Perennial.
7. Yarrow (Achillea ‘Moonshine’). 2 groups of 3 plants, each set 18″ apart; 12″ to 24″ tall; soft but bright yellow flowers all summer; aromatic foliage. Perennial.
8. Hybrid cranesbill (Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’). 2 groups of 3 plants, each set 18″ apart; 24″ tall; 2″-wide dark lavender-blue flowers over mounds of cut leaves. Perennial.
9. Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Saphirsprundel’). 1 plant; 36″ tall; neat mound of grassy blue leaves; beige flower panicles in summer. Perennial.
10. Tickseed (Coreopsis ‘Creme Brulee’). 3 plants, set 15″ apart; 18″ tall; butter-yellow daisies cover mounds of foliage. Perennial.
11. Perennial sage (Salvia x sylvestris ‘May Night’). 3 plants set 18″ apart; 18″ to 24″ tall; spikes of blue-violet flowers bloom for weeks; aromatic foliage. Perennial.
12. Germander (Teucrium hyrcanicum ‘Paradise Delight’). 1 group of 3 plants and 1 group of 5 plants, each set 12″ apart; 16″ tall; low bushes with dark-green leaves, purple-red tubular flowers. Low shrub.