Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Peonies & Deer

...
pink peony image by Furan from Fotolia.com

Many gardeners know the joy and the agony of planting a beautiful perennial garden only to have their best specimens mowed down by hungry deer in one night. Deer are voracious eaters of many garden plants, according to University of Vermont Extension. It is important for the gardener to find plants that the local deer population stay away from. One favorite perennial, the garden peony, is a plant many gardeners find deer resistant.

Deer Preferences

Deer have a palette for a wide variety of plants. They tend to prefer the tender leaves of shrubs and herbaceous perennials, such as hostas and roses. They usually stay away from plants with strong, herbal odors, such as lavender and rosemary. The plants that deer eat change from location to location and from season to season, so it’s almost impossible to say that a plant won’t ever be eaten by deer, according to Maryland Cooperative Extension.

  • Many gardeners know the joy and the agony of planting a beautiful perennial garden only to have their best specimens mowed down by hungry deer in one night.
  • They usually stay away from plants with strong, herbal odors, such as lavender and rosemary.

Peony Susceptibility

Peonies often appear on deer-resistant plant lists. Their flavor tends to put deer off. Many gardeners, however, find that their peonies have been eaten to the ground or denuded of flowers very quickly. If deer are hungry enough, or if the plants are located conveniently along a deer trail, your peonies may be vulnerable. Ask your neighbors if their peonies are affected by deer.

Location

The location of peonies is important. If deer are known to eat peonies in your neighborhood, plant them closer to the house--the closer to the door the better. The presence and scent of human activity usually keep deer at bay. Planting them on the perimeter of your yard increases their visibility and deer’s access to them.

  • Peonies often appear on deer-resistant plant lists.
  • If deer are hungry enough, or if the plants are located conveniently along a deer trail, your peonies may be vulnerable.

Companion Planting

Reduce susceptibility by planting them near other plants known to be deer resistant. Peonies look very good with lavender, santolina and Russian sage, which deter deer with their strong fragrances and flavors. Resistant bulbs include fritillaries, alliums and lilies-of-the-valley. Plant peonies so they are sheltered among sticky barberries and smelly boxwoods.

Repellents

Effective commercial repellents are available. Many contain the urine of bobcat or coyote--natural deer predators. In the same vein, some old-time gardeners use human urine, sprinkled at the base of plants, to deter deer. Strong deodorant soap hung from nearby shrubs or spikes is often effective.

  • Reduce susceptibility by planting them near other plants known to be deer resistant.
  • In the same vein, some old-time gardeners use human urine, sprinkled at the base of plants, to deter deer.

Related Articles

Sedum Autumn Joy & Deer
Sedum Autumn Joy & Deer
How to Keep Deer Away From Hostas
How to Keep Deer Away From Hostas
Do Deer Eat Holly Bush Berries?
Do Deer Eat Holly Bush Berries?
Garden Plants That Animals Will Not Eat
Garden Plants That Animals Will Not Eat
Flowers That Rabbits Do Not Eat in the Garden
Flowers That Rabbits Do Not Eat in the Garden
Homemade Pest Control for Petunias
Homemade Pest Control for Petunias
How to Keep Deer From Eating Hostas
How to Keep Deer From Eating Hostas
Do Deer Eat Pansies?
Do Deer Eat Pansies?
How to Prevent Rabbits from Eating Impatiens
How to Prevent Rabbits from Eating Impatiens
Perennials Rabbits Do Not Eat
Perennials Rabbits Do Not Eat
What Kinds of Plants Do Squirrels Hate?
What Kinds of Plants Do Squirrels Hate?
Symbolic Meaning of Peony
Symbolic Meaning of Peony
Flowers That Repel Rabbits and Deer
Flowers That Repel Rabbits and Deer
Plants & Shrubs That Are Unappealing to Voles
Plants & Shrubs That Are Unappealing to Voles
Are Hibiscus Plants Deer Resistant?
Are Hibiscus Plants Deer Resistant?
Do Deer Eat Zinnias or Gerber Daisies?
Do Deer Eat Zinnias or Gerber Daisies?
Garden Guides
×