Our neighbor took these photos of “The Herd,” which hangs around our bit of the neighborhood.
Many of our neighbors enjoy sighting the deer. Some even feed them.
Our wooded neighborhood hosts several family groups who wander the ravines and gather around the ponds.
Although the deer are beautiful creatures, they are extremely destructive to our gardens.
And worse, deer roaming through the area bring deer ticks, which harbor Lyme’s disease.
Our neighbor took these photos near our homes, in mid-morning. Not a bit shy, this group was happy to rest in full view in the middle of the day.
Other neighborhood friends describe deer who regularly rest in their yards during the day, like a pet dog might.
We began the conversation, which resulted in the gift of these photos, when my neighbor called to ask what is growing in our new pot on the driveway.
It seems this group was grazing their way down the street, but completely by-passed our new planting.
Watching the deer leave our pot untouched, our neighbor wanted to know what flowers are so immune to grazing. And the answer is, zonal geraniums.
The odor of geraniums is distasteful to deer. I suspect they don’t care for the thickness and texture of geranium leaves, either.
Zonal geraniums are distasteful to deer both for their odor and the texture of their leaves. They protect the Coleus, Begonia, and ivy in this pot. The Caladiums are poisonous. The Lamium vine is also distasteful to deer and has not been grazed in other locations in our garden. It has a purple or blue flower earlier in the spring.
Other plants in this group, like the Coleus, have been grazed other years. I suspect the geraniums deter interest in the entire pot.
Deer nibble our Coleus from time to time, depending on where they find it. Petunias, in the rear, are distasteful and rarely bothered.
We are growing five different varieties of zonal geraniums this year, in addition to ivy geraniums, and several varieties of scented geraniums (Pelargoniums).
Not only are they left untouched, the deer pass the other plants in pots where they grow.
Ivy geraniums (white flowers) and a rose scented Pelargonium share this pot with Eucalyptus. Artemesia grows behind the pot. All are scented and distasteful to deer.
If you live where deer graze frequently, you can still grow beautiful flowers.
The trick is to know what the deer will leave alone, and only invest in plants which will have a chance to grow.
This Lantana is blooming for its third season here on the street. It survived our winter. This is Lantana, “Miss Huff” which is hardy to Zone 7.
“Deer Resistant” has lost its meaning for me. I’ve purchased too many “deer resistant” plants which were grazed within the first week.
Our Catnip, with white flowers.
I prefer “poisonous” plants, like Daffodils, Caladiums, and Hellebores; but will settle for “totally distasteful” plants like Geraniums and most herbs.
A perennial sage grows here with Dusty Miller. Both have lived untouched for several years in our garden.
For more information on “deer proofing” your garden, please look back at some of my previous posts:
Deer Resistant Plants for Our Area- Revised Annotated list
Living With A Herd of Deer
Pick Your Poison
Tick Season Is Here
If you just want to bring home something pretty which will survive on your deck or porch through the season, make sure to include some geraniums and herbs in your pot.
I hope your herd of deer will walk right past it, on the way to someone else’s garden.
Deer photos by Denis Orton 2014
Plant photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Situated in full sun at the street, this newest, unprotected pot must tolerate heat, drought, and stand up to our herd of deer.