It’s a familiar feeling in the garden at this time of year, as in “I regret filling my car with new bedding plants and trundling home only to regret I didn’t buy that fill-in-the-blank plant when I saw it,” or “I regret I didn’t cut back that plant because now I have to, and I don’t have room left in the yard waste cart.”
What I don’t regret, however, is fending off deer who want to turn my annuals, perennials and shrubs into their salad bar. Smelly deer repellents may work — if you remember to reapply often —and a fence can a deterrent — if it’s tall enough, but having your plants grazed away can be discouraging, frustrating and expensive. Granted, a hungry deer may eat any plant on the menu, but this list of six deer-resistant plants provided by Proven Winners might curb their appetites.
1. Catmint. Apparently deer dislike this fragrant plant with its bright lavender blooms. “Cat’s Meow” is a low-maintenance catmint that has a neat, dense habit that doesn’t need clipping to make it manageable in the garden. Older varieties can quickly get out of bounds. Easy to grow in zones 3-8 in full sun, it blooms from summer into early fall.
2. Perennial salvia. Deer avoid this plant, but bees and other pollinators are drawn to those fragrant spires. Make it a staple in your garden and you’ll be rewarded with blooms through early summer. “Color Spires’’ series are hardy variety in zones 4 and 5.
3. Russian sage. This gorgeous and airy perennial is supposed to be highly deer resistant, and it is a lovely addition to the garden. Bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators find the blooms irresistible. “Denim ‘n Lace” has a tidy habit and stays within bounds. Grow it in full sun and dry, unfertile soil.
4. Baptisia. Prepare to fall in love. Baptisia is one of my favorite perennials, particularly the newer varieties like “Blueberry Sundae,” “Vanilla Cream,” “Cherries Jubilee” and “Lemon Meringue.” These are shorter versions of the native prairie plant which are drought tolerant, thrive in full sun and are long-lived. Once planted, they don’t like being moved.
5. Amonsia. Also known as “blue star,” this native performs in full sun to part shade. “Storm Cloud” has finely textured, unique near-black foliage and stems that transition to deep green. Flowers are periwinkle blue. This perennial is low maintenance and long-lived.
6. Aruncus. “Chantilly Lace” is a new goatsbeard that is a part-shade loving perennial. Sprays of lacy, cream-colored flowers drench the deep green foliage in spring. It takes a few years to get established in the garden, but it is worth the time. It is drought-tolerant and hardy.