Garden Photo of the Day

Sue’s deer-plagued garden in Ohio

Red-leafed perilla is a self seeding annual. I prick out the seedlings and move them around every spring. Pinching them back makes a bushier plant, but delays their show until late summer. The groundcovers in that bed are ajuga and comfrey, both deerproof. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sue L'Hommedieu

Today’s photos are from Sue L’Hommedieu. Sue says, “I live in Hudson, Ohio, where deer are a terrible problem. Over the last few years, I have been eliminating the plants they love and increasing the ones they leave alone. These are photos of some plants I have had success growing.”

Natives such as eupatorium and vervain have worked. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sue L’Hommedieu

Sue gives more details in the captions, and has asked me to ask you all to let her know what plants in your region have proven reliably deer-resistant, so that she can try them in her garden. Thanks, Sue, for your suggestions!

Natives such as eupatorium and vervain have worked. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sue L’Hommedieu
Anything in the onion family is also good. These are garlic chives. I also grow several kinds of allium bulbs for spring color. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sue L’Hommedieu
Surprisingly, the deer have not bothered the colocasia, so I use those as a replacement for the big hosta I used to grow. They can take everything from full sun to full shade! I like to start them early in the spring in black nursery pots so they get a head start on the season. You can see one in a grouping with ‘Moudry’ pennisetum grass, sedum, and flowering tobacco. So far my astilbe have not been eaten, but I know in other parts of the country, the deer take them, so I hate to suggest them. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sue L’Hommedieu
In the shady parts of the garden I use hellebore, fern, European and native gingers and various lamiums. I turned to garden ornaments provide color when the impatiens were eaten. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sue L’Hommedieu

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  1. Olivetgarden 12/27/2012

    Your garden looks lush and full! Perilla has been a wonderful ground cover for me also and is easily controlled. You are growing many of the same plants I use in zone 5, Michigan. Coral bells, sedums, pulmonaria, grasses, and big root geranium have not been bothered by deer, although they have eaten red raspberry bushes to the ground, and startled me by grazing on the yews outside my bedroom window late at night! I have also started using garden ornaments for color and interest.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/27/2012

    Fortunately, Sue, all the plants you regard as survivors are favorites of gardeners for more than their lack of appeal to deer. Who doesn't love a grouping that includes hellebores, ferns,lamiums...yours looks great and is beautifully set off by the beautiful blue gazing ball (ha, I first typed "grazing" ball but that would defeat the purpose of it).
    I have not been put to the test yet of deer proofing my garden but since I know the critters are around, my days are probably numbered.

  3. Wife_Mother_Gardener 12/27/2012

    Nice plant combinations Sue! Thanks for sharing you photos and experience.

  4. pattyspencer 12/27/2012

    Love your plantings. You're blue gazing ball is certainly a bright spark of color - love it!

  5. GarPho 12/27/2012

    Sue, I completely sympathize and am grateful for your experience. As a member of both the hosta and daylily societies, I am not yet ready to part with my deer-eaten plants, so I wear myself out with repellents that only work until the deer get used to them. Like you, I have been replacing some with plants the deer won't eat. So far, they have not touched my irises, heucheras, boxwoods or Japanese Maples, but I was stunned the first time I went out to find the phlox, asters and geraniums pruned halfway down their stalks. They even ripped the bark off a young Pagoda Dogwood. Like you, I use blue balls as accents. I also use blue pots and have a blue Adirondack chair. These accents help a lot.

  6. KVgarden 12/27/2012

    Hi Sue, great plantings of some very nice plants. Another plant I love that the deer ignore in Kansas City is nepeta or catmint, especially "Walker's Low". And they don't touch the butterfly bushes, nor viburnums. I love impatiens too and have some success when I remember to keep them sprinkled with blood meal.

  7. user-908188 12/27/2012

    The deer are a serious problem here on Vancouver Island as well and we struggle to find anything they don't eat! They seem to have developed gourmet tastebuds........I have most success with hellebores, daffodils, ferns, hardy geraniums, hardy fuschias, and grasses. Under constant attack and nearly always taken are roses, hydrangeas, Japanese maples, hucheras, impatients, hostas, and they love to eat any lillies, pansies, and tulips. I use meatmeal, sprays, visual deterrents, and noise devices in my ongoing battle to protect my garden which is nearly impossible to fence completely. Despite our best efforts, there is always the heartbreak of finding chomped down plants and munched blooms---they always get the best, most expensive, or most precious ones, it seems. Guess they have good taste in more ways than one! Why don't they like the weeds and dandelions??? Gardening is a challenge, for sure.

  8. KVgarden 12/27/2012

    Also, there are some colorful yuccas you might try. And I don't think they have ever eaten my peonies.

  9. ClareRocky 12/27/2012

    Sue, I love your deer-resistant plant combinations. I live in northern NJ (Zone 6) and we have lots of deer here. I am able to grow plants the deer like to eat in my backyard because it is totally fenced in. But in the front yard, it has been a "trial and error" process to find plants that the deer don't eat. Here, I have found that the deer leave the following plants alone: spirea, foxgloves, bleeding hearts, lilac, daffodils, 4 o'clocks, datura, columbine, cleome, betony, heliotrope, elderberry, leopard's bane, cardinal flower lobelia, artemisia, nepeta (catmint), Profusion zinnias, yarrow, vinca, boxwood, pieris, yucca and marigold. Good luck and keep letting us know what works!

  10. sheila_schultz 12/27/2012

    Sue, you have done a fabulous job of finding plants that the deer don't find tasty, and your combinations certainly haven't suffered from lack of visual interest! I've been very lucky not having to worry about deer in my own gardens, but they are nearby. I've been told that 'fuzzy leaves' aren't considered a delicacy by most deer, so 'Helene Von Stein' Lamb's Ear is a good addition for both sun and shade gardens. Good luck!

  11. tractor1 12/27/2012

    It's nice to hear I'm not the only one with a munching deer problem. After testing all the repellants I decided that the only thing that deters deer all the tme is a good fence. I got tired of plantint what deer are not supposed to eat only to find that after growimg for a few years and watching them mature nicely to have a hard winter when deer fodder is lean they will eat those plants that they are not supposed to eat. The only area on my property where I attempt to propagate deer resistant plants without fencing is at my creek; typically the native plants that grow naturally and only a few that if they don't eat they trample while drinking. As long as it's green I'm satified... mostly the plants are to stem errosion.

  12. PeonyFan 12/27/2012

    The deer in my neighborhood never eat my peony plants--that's why I am such a peony fan! (I grew roses when I first moved to MN, before I realized I was just feeding deer and rabbits.) Peonies would grow well in Ohio. Thanks for sharing photos of your garden; love the looks of the perilla and the elephant ears. Happy new year to all!

  13. tractor1 12/27/2012

    Here in the Catskills we received over a foot of snow last night and this morning. At noon I went out to plow my driveway, and this time I plowed all the way out to the barn so I could get to feed Newt. Plowing took me three times as long today but at least it's done and Newt was fed, albeit a few hours late.

    I don't even know the names of many of the plants growing at my creek, mostly whatever wildflowers grow naturally... I know that there's a lot of mint.

  14. KVgarden 12/27/2012

    Deer do not eat my coreopsis....., Moonbeam is my favorite.

  15. SueLHommedieu 12/28/2012

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments and the plant suggestions. I have many of those plants that were mentioned in the comments and agree they are deerproof. Except, around here, deer love the tall Sedums like Autumn Joy and they eat every variety of hardy geranium except one with scented leaves. Amsonia has been deerproof for me and I grow three different cultivars of it. Primroses have been very successful in my garden--hardy English ones and the candelabra Japanese ones both. I'll try to take some more photos this summer. Happy New Year!

  16. kayneff 12/28/2012

    Beautiful garden!
    In my deer-populated world, I find it varies from year to year. They always take most of my lilies and daylilies just at the flowering point, but the other choices often surprise me. Last summer my next door neighbor's hosta were eaten to the ground and mine were (mostly) ignored. So far Japanese anemone and nepeta have been spared. In June they pruned all my phlox back to about 18 inches, but never returned to that area. As a result, there was quite a phlox display in late August. I also use repellents, but find them only marginally helpful. It seems as if the young ones bite first and taste later!

  17. UndelfFen 02/18/2013

    Buy Dianabol Online

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