Dear Deer, ΧΧΟΟ, Spring Edition

Hot topic: What won’t deer eat?!

Voracious grazers, they will eat anything if pressed. They have eaten poisonous plants from the yard during droughts. Yet, there are a few shining examples that have escaped these herbivorous “predators” year after year. Here are five spring perennials to consider.


peonies These beauties are a spring favorite. If you haven’t got out there and set up your peony hoops, you’d better get on it! A soaking rain can knock the blooms down and send the petals scattering.

Peonies are easy to grow. Their bloom time is short but spectacular. They need a good amount of sun to bloom, at least 6 hours a day. They reach a height of about 3 feet.

Even after they bloom, their palmate foliage is attractive and deer resistant. Water the plants in the heat of midsummer to avoid mildew.





Another perennial, and this one self-sows freely!

These plants have escaped deer grazing year after year, and happily spread in semi-shade. They prefer rich, moist soil. They have a low (6-8 in.), mounding habit and ferny blue-green foliage. They bloom from spring to fall. What more could you ask for?




Digitalis lutea

Photo: Isidre blanc 

This slim foxglove is another self-sower. It forms clumps of basal rosettes from which the flower stalks (2 ft.) emerge in late spring. The flowers last through early summer.

It will grow in sun and shade and doesn’t require any fuss.

Digitalis are short-lived perennials, but because they are prolific you will have many years of these moon-glow flowers to enjoy.



Siberian Iris “Caesar’s Brother”

siberian iris caesar's brother
Photo: F.D. Richards 

Siberian iris will grow in sun or shade, but blooms best in sun. Although the blooms won’t last a week, they are so beautiful when they pop; and the grassy foliage (about 2 1/2 ft.) remains attractive into the fall. Another late spring, early summer bloomer, you can divide the clumps to move it around your yard.



Lily of the Valley

photo: H. Zell

These sweet-smelling beauties are guaranteed to brighten your day, no matter how taxing it may have been. Put a small vase on your desk or next to your bed, and enjoy their unsurpassed fragrance.

The deer usually don’t touch them. However, in a particularly dry July, the leaves did get munched down. Yet, they made a glorious comeback the next spring.

These plants prefer some shade. They spread by underground rhizomes that are easy to dig up, divide, and replant.


Well, there you have it – some deer-resistant plants to get you started. Time to hit the dirt.

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