Deer-resistant plants are always the most popular topic of conversation here at Ashland Greenhouses. Gardening within an area of high deer populations can be frustrating, especially when you’ve worked so hard to make something beautiful it becomes what I call “expensive deer food.” I also have to mention that just because something worked for me or someone else doesn’t always mean the next customer will have the same luck. Young deer seem to try anything once, and if food is scarce, deer will often eat plants they’ve never tried before.
There are more perennials that are deer-resistant than annuals. This again can be frustrating, especially when you see beautiful blooming annuals in the garden center that you want in your flower beds and containers. My favorite deer-resistant annuals are verbena, lantana, and zinnias.
Verbena comes in a wide assortment of colors and growth habits. We grow 20 different colors and varieties of verbena. They are a very versatile and durable plant requiring minimal care. They work great as groundcovers and look beautiful in pots and hanging baskets. The EnduraScape is actually considered a perennial verbena, while the Lascars, and Superbenas are considered true annuals.
Lantana has become more popular each year, and not only for its deer resistance. Lantana thrives in the hot summer sun, is a major attractor for hummingbirds and butterflies, requires very little care, zero deadheading, and it does not get eaten up by budworms which are notorious for wiping out blooms of petunias and calibrachoas. We have more colors to choose from this year because of an increase in popularity.
Zinnias have always been a regional favorite. The color they add to a landscape is unbeatable and always impressive. I prefer mass-planting in a landscape bed for a truly stunning impact. We grow 22 different varieties and colors of zinnias. They range from small flowering Star Zinnias, to the larger, cut-flower series like State Fair and Cut and Come Zinnias. Lately, our most popular series has been the Zahara. It’s a very well branched, medium height zinnia. Because of its well branching growth habit, one plant goes a long way. They bloom profusely all summer into the fall and do not need deadheading.
These are just a few of my favorite and most popular plants for deer resistance. We have specific handouts that list more annuals and perennials best suited for deer resistance. The handouts are available for customers at our store. Come see us to check out these versatile plants and be sure to ask for one of our deer-resistant lists.