When our horticulturist Mark creates landscaping design plans, he always takes environmental factors into account. During the planning process, he examines soil conditions, common weather patterns, existing flora, and the insects and critters that frequent the area in order to create a holistic, fully integrated design plan. Frequently, his clients voice concerns about the level of deer activity around their property. Deer, as all homeowners know, can be a constant source of frustration when it comes to lawns and landscapes. Their appetite is voracious, and they’re agile enough to get into just about anything. For properties plagued by deer, Mark has a go-to list of deer resistant plants that make beautiful landscapes hardier in the wake of deer season. Here’s the dish on some of his favorites:
Little Missy Boxwood
Little Missy Boxwood’s are a smaller, more compact version of a typical medium-large sized boxwood. They are extremely cold hardy and sun tolerant, so they work well in almost any landscape, and their small stature allows them to blend seamlessly with existing plantings. The best part? Deer don’t like to eat them!
Morning Light Miscanthus
This wispy grass shrub is known for the light-like, creamy color of its thin, long blades. It catches the sunlight brilliantly and adds whimsical texture wherever it is planted. I think these shrubs make even the drabbest backyards look like paradisal vacation spots. And, of course, deer just can’t stand them!
Moonbay Nandina, also known as “heavenly bamboo,” is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that boasts a colorful array of white and yellow flowers in the spring. It is cold hardy up to a point, but generally fairs poorly in temperatures below ten degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, temperatures in Southwest Virginia rarely dip that low, meaning that—during mild winters—nandina could keep its green splendor all season long. Plus, you guessed it—deer hate them!
Lavender, an aromatic flowering plant in the mint family, is popularly grown in temperate climates across the globe. It is valued for its delicate purple hue and sweet smell, and can be used ornamentally or as a cooking herb. Lavender grows best in dry soil and full-sun, and its sweet smell attracts beneficial pollinators such as honey bees and butterflies. Deer, on the other hand, most often keep their distance.
May Night Salvia
Salvia is known for its intense indigo blue flowers, which add regal richness to the gardens and landscapes it adorns. Moderately cold-hardy, it fairs well despite Virginia’s often unpredictable spring and fall temperatures. Despite its flashy color, deer are indifferent to this perennial.
True to their name, butterfly bushes attract pollinators like butterflies and honeybees with hundreds of small, honey-scented flowers that can range in color from pastel pink and blue to deep burgundy red. These shrubs grow tall and are an impressive sight. Though popular with every kind of pollinator, deer are not so keen about this pungent plant. A strategically placed butterfly bush could act as a kind of barrier, protecting smaller and more vulnerable plants from the advances of pesky deer.