Deer-Resistant Annuals

Outside of my fenced in backyard, deer are a problem. Trial and error has taught me a few lessons about what they will and won’t eat. The bottom line: Hungry deer will eat just about anything.

Deer won’t touch toxic plants. Most are perennials, but a few can be grown as annuals including castor beans and flowering tobacco. I usually put castor bean seed in the ground where I want them to grow (as tall as 14 feet). The flowering tobacco were started indoors.

Some annuals don’t taste good to deer, including snapdragons (plants purchased last fall), marigolds, and nasturtium. I started two varieties of the latter two indoors. ‘Elevate’ is a marigold with large, orange blooms on well-branched plants up to four foot tall. ‘Happy Days’ is shorter–about 18-inches tall and three-foot wide.

I’ve never had much luck with nasturtium and, were they not deer resistant, wouldn’t plant them. Not sure if the location, the weather, or something else is to blame, but they’ve done great this year! I alternated two varieties (‘Alaska’ and ‘Phoenix’) across the front. The flowers on ‘Phoenix’ are fancier. The bicolor foliage surprised me.

I’m not sure if it’s the taste or something else, but zinnias have done well. ‘Profusion’ has tons of blooms all summer long on short, bushy plants. ‘Pinwheel’ is similar with smaller, multicolored flowers. “Giant flowering zinnias” will provide a steady supply of blooms for cutting. All are easily grown from seed.

The hairy foliage of Black-eyed Susan is safe, but all but are off with the blooms. Same with the stiff foliage of crocosmia. Waxy leaves are supposed to be safe too, though it’s hit or miss. Lisianthus do well, but begonias haven’t fared well for me.

It’s early in the season. I’m anxious to see what happens in the weeks ahead. As always, I’ll keep you posted.