Deer-proof Plants

The front garden in August

I know, I know, there’s no such thing.  I suppose if they were really starving they’d eat anything.  But my overpopulated neighborhood provides a great test of what is usually ignored by deer.

Picea abies 'Gem'

So I thought I’d share some of the plants that my deer have left alone.  Mind you, if you live more than a block away you may find that your deer enjoy browsing different plants, so don’t blame me if these selections don’t work for you!

The new growth on this Picea orientalis aurea is stunning!

Conifers are, in my opinion, much underused plants, and there are many different conifers that deer do not care to eat.  In my front garden I have:

Just a few hoofprints around my Cedrus 'Feelin Blue'!

  • Spruce seem to be completely inedible so I have several, some are tiny, some will be large trees, in time;

    Picea omorika 'Bruns'

    Blue Spanish Fir

  • Abies (true fir);
  • Taxus (Yew);
  • Pinus;
  • Cedrus;
  • Cryptomeria (Japanese cedar);
  • Chamaecyparis(false cypress), and
  • One lonely juniper (deer don’t like them at all, but neither do I, much).

    Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Cream Ball'

There was one chamaecyparis, my treasured dwarf Hinoki Cypress, that they did chomp on one cold winter so I moved it to the back.  It is recovering but still looks like an example of poorly pruned bonsai!

Dwarf Hinoki Cypress

These conifers are invaluable to the structure of my garden, especially during the winter when so many other plants “disappear”.  When you are planning a garden, don’t neglect conifers, there are so many interesting options, varying in size, shape, colour and texture.  Conifers are often overlooked in favour of flowering shrubs and trees, but they more than pull their weight in the garden, offering structure and colour throughout the seasons, and  are undemanding as long as you meet their basic needs.

Next post – Deer proof deciduous and broadleafed evergreen trees and shrubs.

Pinus thunbergii 'Yatsubasa'

Cryptomeria japonica 'Tenzan' winter colour

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About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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8 Responses to Deer-proof Plants

  1. What about some really cuddly cacti? The proof of the pudd…, er, planting is in not being eaten.

  2. I grow them and last year it rained for 3 months!!. Are deer partial to succulents?
    our problem was rabbits. Now it’s cats!

    • hortophile says:

      Deer certainly do like to eat the succulents that are hardy enough to grow here. I grow sedums and sempervivum in the back yard (deer-free zone). I also have a few echeveria and aeonium but these need to come in to survive our winters.

  3. Your front garden looks very pretty. I just saw somewhere that catmint is something deer don’t like. Have you ever tried it? It’s good to use in vegetable gardens, too, as it repels certain insects. Here is a link in case you haven’t:

    http://gardening.about.com/od/plantprofile1/p/Nepeta.htm

    • hortophile says:

      Thanks Julee! And yes, catmint, like many herbs, is too strongly flavoured for deer (and their sensitive noses, I guess). I don’t have any because it can be a wee bit invasive, but it is lovely, long blooming and easy to grow.

      • Poor wittle deer and their sensitive noses, lol! I guess that means they dislike most mints? I suppose that’s an argument for an “all mint” garden! I know regular mint is invasive, so I guess that’s why catmint is, too? I always plant mint in containers. Don’t want it to take over everywhere, and it will!

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