Tempted by plants they like, hungry deer can leap tall fences and do severe collateral damage to neighboring plants they don't eat. While no vegetation is completely deer-proof, don't lose heart. A wide range of plants, including numerous wildflowers, hold little appeal for deer. These deer-resistant plants can also make charming ornamental additions to your garden.
Lemon beebalm (Monarda citriodora) is an annual wildflower native to Midwestern and Southern prairies, pastures and slopes from Florida to Arizona to Missouri. Standing 1 to 2 feet tall, it has lance-shaped green foliage that emits a distinctive lemony aroma when bruised. Between May and July, lemon beebalm has multiple stems bearing spikes of tufted pink or lavender flowers. The blooms attract bees and butterflies. Flowering may continue until October where plants receive regular moisture. Beebalm colonizes easily. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center rates this ornamental wildflower as highly deer resistant. Plant it in full sun to partial shade and dry, rocky or sandy loam soil.
Fringed Bleeding Heart
Fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) is a mounding, 1- to 2-foot high perennial that is native to mountains from Massachusetts to Ohio to North Carolina. This shade-loving plant has pale-green, deeply cut fern-like leaves that can reach 3 feet across. Evergreen, fringed bleeding heart blooms from March until October or first frost. Its leafless stems bear multiple, nodding, heart-shaped blooms. They range in color from white and several shades of pink to red or purple. The Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experimental Station gives fringed bleeding heart its highest "rarely damaged" deer-resistance rating. Plant it in partial to full shade and moist, rich acidic (pH below 6.8) soil.
Corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens), or rock harlequin, is a biennial wildflower found along rocky ledges and in dry woods. With a "rarely damaged" Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experimental Station deer-resistance rating, it reaches 1 to 2 feet tall. As a biennial, corydalis spends its first year of life growing foliage and food-storage structures. It has a base clump of greenish-blue, lacy foliage. In its second year, the plant's multiple, branching stems appear. From May to September, clusters of tube-shaped yellow and pink flowers hang from the branch ends. Flat seedpods follow the blooms, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Plants die after blooming and setting seed. Plant corydalis in partial shade and infertile, dry, acidic rocky soil.