After working diligently to create a beautiful garden, it can be frustrating to have your hard work destroyed by deer. Choosing plants that are resistant to deer, like astilbe, can preserve your garden's beauty. There are a number of deer-resistant plants like astilbe--including larkspur, oregano, vinca, buttercup and butterfly bushes--enough to create a beautiful garden by themselves. Or you may decide to strategically plant astilbe and other plants to discourage deer and other animals from damaging the more appealing plants in your garden.
Types and Care
Astilbe come in several varieties that bloom from early summer to midsummer. The bloom color does not affect its ability to deter deer. The most popular astilbe colors are white, purple and different shades of fuchsia and pink. Deer avoid astilbe because they do not like the taste of the leaves. Astilbe range in height from about 2 to 3 feet and can grow in most soil types. It is important to provide regular moisture for astilbe, and the plants require some shade. Astilbe are a hearty perennial when planted properly and usually grow enough to be divided every three or four years. Astilbe are relatively easy to grow and hearty in most climates.
Using astilbe to discourage deer from entering your garden or landscape area may help preserve other plants or garden vegetables that deer would prefer to eat. Planting astilbe in your garden can make it less appealing to deer, but it is important to remember that no plant is completely deer-resistant. If there is limited food available, deer will eat whatever they can find. Lewis Gardens.com writes, "I have planted some of these plants along the perimeter of my gardens, with decent success at deterring both deer and rabbits." He goes on to cite that Russian sage is also an effective deterrent to deer.
While deer usually find astilbe unappealing, they have been known to eat astilbe when there is no other food available. Deer are also more likely to eat younger springtime growth, which has a more appealing taste than mature growth. Some other plants that like similar planting environments as astilbe, like hostas and impatiens, are plants that actually attract deer.
Astilbe are native to Japan and came to the United States in the early 20th century. They may be referred to as "false spirea." Astilbe are known for their flowers that appear to be more like feathery plumes than typical flowers. In addition to the previously mentioned colors, some varieties have red flowers. One variety, Color Flash, has purple and burgundy foliage with pink floral plumes.
In a normal growing environment, astilbe is a beautiful addition to your garden that will provide years of low-maintenance beauty while encouraging deer to find another yard to use for a snack shop.