Nearly every gardener in Deer Country has a list—a short list—of annual flowers that local deer don’t eat. Over the years my short list included—note the past tense—marigolds, petunias, and vincas.
In “Deer Country 1,” I mentioned how the sunflowers and pansies I planted when we first moved to Meadow Glenn disappeared and how I then realized that deer were going to use our flower gardens as a salad bar.
My defense was to start planting annuals that I thought deer would pass by. Friends advised, “Try marigolds. They have a strong scent that the deer will avoid.” Others suggested, “Try petunias. They have furry leaves the deer don’t like.”
I planted marigolds, and, amazingly, the first year had beautiful blooms. But the second year, deer regularly browsed the marigolds—and we had no blooms to admire.
I had better luck with vincas, a tropical import. I planted a line of them in the narrow bed between our front sidewalk and our front porch. In fact, I planted them successfully for about five years, and we enjoyed their pink and white blooms in mid-summer until cold weather set in. And then in year six the deer decided to browse the vincas. They ate the leaves and as they browsed pulled up many of the plants, which don’t have much of a root system.
|Browsed & uprooted vinca|
Are there annual flowers that I could grow without deer browsing here at Meadow Glenn? Probably. Are there annual flowers you can grow without deer browsing in your landscape? Probably. The only way to find out is to experiment. Grow some good candidates and see what your deer think of your additions.
There are lists of good candidates in the publications I mentioned in “Deer Country 3.” The Soderstrom book lists a page and a half of “Annuals and Biennials.” Hart lists seven candidates, including zinnias, which our deer browse. Adler has several pages of “Plants Rarely Damaged,” including some annuals, and Drzewucki lists a dozen annuals. Both Adler and Drzewucki include marigolds and petunias, which Meadow Glenn deer browse heavily. University of Maryland Extension Fact Sheet 655 includes several annuals in its “Rarely Damaged” section on “Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs.”
If you’re serious about growing annual flowers in Deer Country, I recommend that you invest in a deer-resistant fence, experiment to find varieties your deer don’t eat, or use a deer spray.
To go to “Deer Country 3,” which lists the books and brochure mentioned in this posting, CLICK HERE.
To go to “Deer Country 4,” which discusses repellents, CLICK HERE.
Please post a Comment to identify annual flowers that deer in your part of Deer Country don’t eat.