Planting for Drought Tolerance and Deer Resistance

Destructive deer and hot, dry summers are two very common issues in the Rogue Valley. Drought tolerant and deer resistant plants are a good combination to aim for because the qualities in plants that repel deer can often be found in drought tolerant species- such as heavy oil content, textured or hairy foliage, strong odors, and tough, less succulent leaves. The key to keeping drought tolerant plants happy and more unpalatable to deer is to give them the habitat they are used to- so don’t water them every day just because its 90 degrees!

Good drainage is usually essential- if you don’t have it, you’ll probably have to water even less

No heavy fertilizing: Use only organic or slow release fertilizer if called for at time of planting. Over fertilizing will attract deer. If the plants look yellow it is usually from too much water, not lack of fertilizer.

Dedicate an area to drought tolerant plants: Don’t mix plants that need regular water with drought tolerant plants. Do not put them on the same irrigation system & timer or one group will suffer.

Do not over water! It’s best to plant drought tolerant plants in early spring or early fall so they can get established with the rains.

  • Once established many plants do not need summer water.
  • They will only need an occasional deep soak.
  • Don’t plant them where they will get extra water from lawn areas or runoff from other irrigated areas.

 How to get good drainage:

Mound up soil when making new beds or planting a new plant. Create a berm. Plant drought tolerant plants on a hillside or slope

Mulch with at least a 1″ layer of 1/4″-io gravel to keep dirt from rotting the crown of plant, to retain moisture during heat and keep plant roots warmer in winter

For clay soil amend with 1/4″- io gravel (sharp edge, no fines) and compost will help break down clay over time.

 How to water drought tolerant plants

Observe- most plants need to dry out before the next watering- stick your finger a few inches into soil (well below mulch, which will feel dry), if it is cool and damp, don’t need to water yet.

Infrequent But Deep Soak: This trains plants to have deep roots, not shallow. Often a deep soak every 2 weeks in heat of summer is enough- easier to do with drip irrigation than sprinklers

Watering rule of thumb (depends on site and soil type)

  1. 1st year of planting water deeply once a week for first month of summer,
  2. Then water once every 2 weeks for 2nd and 3rd month of summer
  3. Water once a month the 2nd summer and don’t water again.

 How to find drought tolerant plants

Look to natives- can tolerate summer drought and winter wet

Look to Mediterranean plants- similar climate (also cold hardy Australian and northern California plants, hardy desert plants/succulents) get help from your local nursery!- we’ve talked to countless customers and worked in our own gardens and have seen what works

How to find deer resistant plants

  • Look around your neighborhood drive or walk around heavy deer areas- Jacksonville, hills of east Medford, wooded parts of Ashland- observe what has been chewed- deer can be very neighborhood specific
  • Read lists, but be ready to experiment
  • use Liquid Fence, Plantskydd, or similar product on all new plantings to discourage initial browsing
  • Use cages around most new trees- to prevent antler damage and new growth chewing
  • Deer damage can depend on time of year you plant- when deer are especially hungry in fall and winter they can graze on almost anything
  • Use poisonous, strongly scented or sharply textured plants (grasses, sometimes prickly/thorny textures, fuzzy/hairy leaves, pine needles, etc.)
  • Talk to your local nursery- we know from our experiences and those of our customers and landscapers what has worked and what hasn’t

By: Christie Mackison, Shooting Star Nursery

Pollinator Plants

Butterfly Garden:
Black-eyed Susan  – Rudbeckia hirta
Blue Wildrye – Elymus glaucus
Butterfly Bush – Buddleia davidii
California Buckeye- Aesculus californica
Cardonna Blue Sage – Salvia nemorosa ‘caradonna’
Catmint – Nepeta faassenii
Coreopsis Coreopsis - sp. C. verticillata
Dwarf Goldenrod – Solidaga canadensis
Dwarf Maidengrass-  Miscanthus sinensus
Gay Feather – Liatris spicata
Idaho Fescue – Festuca idahoensis
Joe Pye Weed – Eupatorium maculatum
Junegrass – Koeleria macrantha (formerly Koeleria cristata)
Jupiter’s Beard – Centranthus ruber
Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
Mexican Sunflower – Tithonia rotundifolia
Michaelmas Daisy - Aster novi-belgii
Milkwood – Asclepias sp.
Oregano – Oregianum vulgare
Ornamental Oregano – Origanum x ‘Rotkugel’
Perennial Sage – Salvia superba
Purple Cone Flower - Echinacea purpurea
Rockrose – Cistus purpureus
Rose of Sharon - Hibiscus syriacus
Shasta Daisy – Chrysanthemum maximum
Sulfur Flower (buckwheat) – Eriogonum umbellatum
Sweet William – Dianthus barbatus
Vervain (Purple top) – Verbena
Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Amphibian & Reptile Garden:
California Black Flowering Sedge – Carex nudata
Compact Oregon Grape – Mahonia aquifolium
Kinnikinnick Arctostaphylos – uva-ursa
Oceanspray – Holodiscus discolor
Red-twig dogwood – Cornus stolonifera
Reed Grass – Calamogrostis acutiflora var. Karl Foerster
Scouler’s Willow – Salix scouleriana
Snowberry - Symphoricarpos albus
Soft Rush – Juncus effusus

Bird Buffet:
Amaranth – Amaranthus sp.
Morning Glory – Ipomoea sp.
Sorghum – Sorghum bicolor
Sunflower – Helianthus

(List from N. Mountain Park, Ashland OR – Habitat Gardens)

Tool Time Tune Up

20130706_toolsIt is almost Spring, so it’s time to get your tools ready for gardening. 

Gregg and Karen are offering their tool tune up workshop.

Tool Tune Up
Where: 2209 Talent Ave, Talent, OR
This is Homestead, look for signs & park on the road
When: Saturday, March 14th
Time:  10am to 4pm
(drop by any time between those hours)

What to bring:
Tools to work on
Parts that need replacing (like handles, or blades)
Snacks (for yourself or to share)
Drinks (non-alcoholic)

Workstations will be set up in the barn.
We provide sand paper, files, grinders, wire wheels, sanders, walnut and sesame oil for handles.
There is also a welder for minor repairs that need to be welded.
We’ll have safety glasses and ear plugs, but feel free to bring your own.

This is a free community event, however, donations will be accepted.
See you there!
Karen Taylor