In many landscapes there is a problem with deer getting into the garden. Some gardeners are unaware that there are some plants that are more resistant to deer foraging than others. While all plants are targets, some species do get foraged less than others. The plants that are least likely to be used as deer forage and that are perennials can be a gardener’s best friend with the ability to plant once and enjoy for many seasons. Having both qualities makes for deer resistant perennials.
Adam’s Needle, or Yucca filamentosa, is from the Agavaceae, or agave, family. It is an easy to grow evergreen perennial. Leaves are like straps and 1 inch wide by 2 to 3 feet long. There is a spike up to 12 feet with several flower clusters that are white and 2 inches long. Depending on the variety of Adam’s needle, the leaves and spikes may be variegated or different color hues. It prefers full sun or partial shade, average to dry soil, and propagates via seed, offshoots, and root cuttings.
Lamb’s Ear, or Stachys byzantina, is from the Lamiaceae/Labiatae, or mint, family. It is a perennial that is easy to grow and has interestingly fuzzy foliage. Leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, grayish green or silver and fuzzy. Flowers are 12 to 18 inches high, purplish pink, and come out in summer. It prefers full sun in north and in the south to have afternoon shade, a moist well drained soil, and it can be propagated via root mass division. It can self seed on occasion.
Garden Sage, or Salvia officinalis, is from the Lamiaceae/Labiatae, or mint, family. It is a perennial classified as a shrub. Leaves are fuzzy and 3 inches long on a shrub that gets 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Leaves are lemony smelling and flowers are white, blue, or lilac. It prefers full sun and average water. Propagate via seed, root division, stem cuttings, or leaf cuttings.
Dusty Miller, or Lychnis coronaria, is from the Caryophyllaceae, or pink, family. It is a short lived perennial that can be drought resistant. It gets 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. Leaves are 4 to 6 inches long with pink, purple, or white flowers that are trumpet like and 1 inch wide. It prefers poor soil, full sun or partial shade, and will propagate via seed in the autumn. It can self sow.