fbpx skip to Main Content

Win a copy of 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants

Gardening in deer-infested territory may be old hat for you, or deer may be a recent challenge for you, thanks to recent increases in herd size in the D.C. area.  And by “challenge” I mean the untold frustrations and horrors of continually losing beloved plants to these voracious herbavores.

I’m one of the new-to-Bambi gardeners, so I latched onto this new book from Timber Press a bit desperately and, like any good form of therapy, it made me feel better about my lot in life – or gardens.

50 Beatiful Deer-Resistant Plants is an exceedingly helpful resource, expertly researched and written by the respected writer Ruth Rogers Clausen.  It includes not just the 50 but her favorite companions, and design tips for every plant she covers.  Add the terrific photos of Alan Detrick, and indeed the options look “drool-worthy,” to quote the publisher.

I was surprised to learn a couple of things about my deer-infested back yard.  First and quite happily, it’s filled with shrubs that deer don’t like – like spirea, weigela, boxwood and beautyberry.  So I got the big stuff right – yay!  My perennials, not so much, so I’ll to either keep spraying, or invest in some of the options presented here.  Either way, I’m not giving in, giving up and settling for a blah garden.

Just leave a comment to this story and we’ll choose one by random.  So you can say whatever you’d like in the comment but how about a deer story?  The deadline is June 30, 2011 and the winner can pick up the book at either Behnkes location.

Deer-resistant Astilbe and Spirea seem to protect the Hydrangeas in my garden.

Posted by Susan Harris.


Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has 42 Comments

  1. They used to have the decency to act scared and run away from me. Now the evil black-hearted forest ruminants just look up at me and go right back to munching my plants.

  2. Last year they ate all my tomato plants. Who would have ever guessed tomato plants would have been considered tasty!

  3. Right now I have a faun sleeping in my tall rye grass in the backyard. She’s gorgeous – just wish her mother wouldn’t eat hostas so I could have a good shade garden!

  4. This past spring: azalea buds – eaten, crocus – devoured, lilacs – chomped, liriope – nibbled to nubbins, smokebush – gnawed, Manhattan euonymous – severely sheared back and river birch used as a loofah.

  5. I NEED this book! I look out each morning to a group of 7 deer looking over our short fence, just deciding what to nibble on……..

  6. Honestly, I almost gave up on gardening a few years ago my deer problem was so bad. I gave it another try and began installing ‘deer resistant’ plants and spraying deer repellents. Things are better.

  7. They chomp the shrubs all around the edge of my acreage. Started on the bark of an ornamental crabapple this winter. Still too timid to come further into the yard, probably because of my dogs.

  8. Once, when I lived on Whidbey Island in state of Washington, I had two little brave tomato plants growing. The deer came along and ate off all the leaves but the top two on each plant!! They looked like little palm trees!

    I would love to win this book. Thank you for the opportunity.

  9. Deer are a constant problem, but I get my revenge when a friend hunts them in our woodland. Venison has become our favorite meat. Curried, stir-fried, burgundy-style, it seems to work in any dish. Even with the annual harvest, they continue to bite the tops off baby trees, munch their way through the hosta, and prune white cedar trees into lollipop toiaries.

  10. We have a meadow out off of our little entry road to the house where I see deer frequently. I love to see the new little fawns. They cross the main road often so I like to shoo them across when I see them so they go quickly and do not get hit bay a passing car or truck. Sometimes I just stop my car and blast the horn so they run off into the woods. I do my best to keep them away from the garden and plant deer resistant plants and strong scented ones hopefully deter them from visiting the garden area of our yard.

  11. We actually have a doe in our neighborhood that eats so well it has belly fat that hangs down in a little pouch. They sleep in our back yard along the treeline and rise leisurely in the evening to continue the deforestation of suburbia.

  12. We definitely need this book. We have 6 dogs and the deer are still sneaking into our garden at night and eating the tops out of everything. Help!?!

  13. The doe that had been having her babies here for at least 9 years was tragically killed 2 weeks ago. I miss “Doereen” but I must admit that I am enjoying the flowers she used to eat. So far the yearling has not yet developed her mother’s tastebuds. LOL

  14. How can anything so cute drive us to distraction? But they do. They are the “enemy”. Grr!

  15. I just moved to a new house in the woods surrounded by the perfect deer habitat. So far although I’ve seen them pass through the woods behind, they have left my hosta alone, but seem to be munching on the rudbeckia (they can have it as it’s taken over like a weed here). So I’m interested in figuring out what I can replace the rudbeckia with once they nibble it down to nubs! This book sounds perfect! I hope I get a chance to win it….

  16. I hate when the deer eat my plants. But I must confess, I still think they are beautiful creatures. I would love to figure out how to get them to eat the English ivy and the Virginia Creeper that have taken over part of our land.

    One helpful thing: they don’t seem to want to get near Lily of the Valley. When I plant Lily of the Valley (which is poisonous) among other plants, the deer seem to stay away.

  17. I’m in the midst of changing out a lot of my plantings and this book would be invaluable with regard to making the right choices for new shrubs and plants… Especially since my side yard and the area out back seems to be a “herd favorite hangout”!

  18. Deer will eat anything where I live. I enjoy seeing how brave they can be, coming right up to the house. Lots of fun seeing them in the neighboring yards.

  19. I counted on my black Lab to chase them out of my yard as they ate everything in sight. Now he’s just used to them and barely raises his head when he sees them. I need the book! Thanks for the opportunity.

  20. We have a deal: they can have the apples and anything else in the back yard, but they’re not to eat my garden. They watch me solemnly and nod. Then they come in the next Sunday morning and eat my tomato blossoms. This year, I have a 3×8 enclosure around the plants, thinking that if they can’t see a place to land safely they won’t jump in. We shall see. I’m also letting mint take over the borders, since that’s supposed to deter them. As if!

  21. Last year deer ate my beautiful okra plants leaving only leafless stems about two feet high. Ironically they never touch my hostas which is suppose to be a deer favorite.

  22. I just chased a doe out of my hostas this morning. Last year I had a pair of twin fawns eat all the blossoms off my valentine pieris that I had just planted the day before. I yelled to them to read the “deer proof” label tags that were dangling off of the branches. But, apparently their mother hadn’t gotten around to teaching them that lesson yet. She was too busy taking one bite of each big hosta leaf to see which she liked the best. And, last fall I had a huge buck in my front yard just standing and looking at the spread of plants before him. I ran to get my camera. I held it up to take a photo and then gasped in horror when I saw him reach down and yank a hosta plant right out of the ground. It would have made a great book cover photo with the hosta dangling out of his mouth, but I was too busy running out the front door to chase him out of my yard. It is a love-hate relationship with the deer and me. I love to watch them and their fawns. But, they can be destructive. Years ago I lived in Alaska and threw a saucepan at a moose eating a small tree in my front yard. The pot bounced right off of his neck. He took another bite and turned his head to chew it while straight at me. I am 5ft tall, he was about 7ft at the shoulder. I just turned around and walked back inside the house and closed the curtain. At least with whitetail you can chase them into the neighbor’s yard when you see them. :o)

  23. The only way I’ve gotten the deer to leave my flowering plants and hosta alone is by a secret that a woman selling flowers at our local farmer’s market told me she uses. She/I use 2 different products: a fertilizer called Melorganite sprinkled around the base of the plant and then because they’ll get used to the smell, in two weeks sprinkle Dried Blood around the plant. If it rains, you’ll have to reapply one product or the other. I believe they don’t like the smell of either of these. They’re pretty cheap, go a long way and are good for the plant. Don’t use Melorganite on vegetable or fruit plants.

  24. The garden here in the sierra’s is fenced off to protect my plants. One night we came home late and found Mr. Buck and his beauty Doe inside the fence …Practicing being safe from the predators…You might say they were honeymooning in my garden.
    Thanks ,
    Mare S. Northern Ca.

  25. Plant a garden especially for the deer. Give them their favorite treats-you after all are living in their territory!

  26. My deer resistant plants (rudbeckia, echinacea, asters, heuchera, yarrow, balloon flowers, armeria) are eaten by the groundhog who lives under our shed. It’s a puzzle. Plant cacti in the shade?
    I apply Liquid Fence to my precious plants (hydrangea, guacamole hosta, heuchera), but then one must change the bad smells. No creature has yet bothered the Cranesbill geraniums, lavender or ceratostigma.
    As I work in a library, I don’t need the book, but it does look lovely.

  27. Deer: the source of Giardia and Lyme Disease:

    “Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal illness known as giardiasis. Giardia is found on surfaces or in soil, food, or water that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals. Giardia is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it tolerant to chlorine disinfection. While the parasite can be spread in different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common method of transmission.” – CDC

    Lyme disease:
    “Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.” – CDC

    So at least keep plants deer like away from human walkways!

  28. Kathy, glad you like the photo – it’s not from the book but from my garden here in Takoma Park.

  29. I love the photo as well – I only wish my garden could look like that! There doesn’t seem to be anything “deer resistant” in our yards, back or front. They’ve eaten the heads off the day lilies, the brown-eyed susans, the sunflowers, the echinacea, the rose of sharon tree, and of course the hostas are really just deer salad. 🙂 I pulled into the driveway the other night to see two deer, just 3 feet from our front door, nibbling away at the flowerbeds. I would love some advice (from this book, perhaps??) on what to plant that they won’t devour!
    thanks for this page,

  30. We have a deer trail that runs along one side of our property. A neighbor who’s also a nurseryman suggested pachysandra as a ground cover because deer don’t like it much. Sure enough, a week or so after I planted some trial plants, I went out to check and saw that the pachysandra closest to the deer trail had been nibbled but no more. I could just picture some fawn trying it, then spitting it out, with Mama saying “Didn’t I tell you it tastes nasty?”

    They do indeed seem to leave the hellebores alone, and nibble on the ferns very little and only when they’re just putting out new fronds. The “deer-resistant” lilies of the valley, though, apparently proved very tasty, as the dratted deer ate them right down to stubs. Same for the peppermint – eaten right down to nubs. Ah well, at least they had fresh breath for a while.

  31. My dear friend and her new husband just bought a home with a neglected landscape – and many deers. She asked me for advise on plants that deer didn’t love, so I would love to have this books!

  32. Deer are beautiful creatures and I love seeing them in my yard but this year I finally gave up on a vegetable garden. Is there anything I can plant that grows quickly enough to feed them so they don’t end up eating my deer resistant shrubs and flowers?

  33. We live in Southern Oregon up in the hills. Deer are as much our neighbors as the people who live around us. We have nearly 6 acres most of which is really wild with oak, madrone and manzanita trees that create an open woods. Because it is sloped it is really beautiful as you drive up the road towards our house. I have naturalized lots of daffodils in the woods that looks quite magical. The acre at the top of the ridge where the house is, we have deer fenced with lots of gates to go in and out of, because we have about 100 roses (in fact our house is in the middle of the rose garden. For the first years we were here, I tried all sorts of “deer resistant” plants along the driveway. All but the irises, catmint, ornamental grasses, Russian sage, and lavender have been devoured. They seem to leave those alone so now that is what I plant. Last year I reworked a fairly good sized garden bed right at the top of the driveway taking out the deer candy and planting the aforementioned plants. Once I finished it, I mulched it with a good quality mulch and watered. A few hours later I looked out to see mama and her two fawns sleeping in the garden. The joke was on me. I wish I could add a photo to this post because I have proof. I have resigned myself to the fact that they are here and we need to peacefully co-exist. Every so often when I trim the roses (and especially in the spring when I twice prune), I give the deer all the trimmings. I call it deer crack and they are very satisfied, They eat everything down to the gravel. Problem solved… happy gardening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back To Top