Horticulture Report: February 2011

Deer Proof Plants: The following are summaries of perennials from the book:
50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants: Thee Prettiest Annuals,
Perennials, bulbs and shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat

by Ruth Clausen
(May 30, 2011)

Perennials Part 1 –AZURE MONKSHOOD (Aconitum carmichaelii)

All parts of this plant especially the roots are poisonous. Monkshhood grow 2 to 3 feet tall and have deeply cut leaves and dark blue spikes of flowers. It grows in the sun or light shade in zones 3-7 and the tuberous roots can be divided in the fall. Be very careful not to get the sap on your skin. This plant is also known as wolfs bane, tiger bane and leopard’s bane.


This plant is a low maintenance ground cover covered with 1-2 inch flowers.The leaves are a light fuzzy light green.It has a scent when any part of the plant is bruised which the deer hate but which in Europe is used in skin care products.

BLUE FALSE INDIGO (Baptisia australis)
Blue false indigo is drought tolerant and almost totally pest and disease free.Plant it in a sunny area in well drained not too rich soil.It grows 3-4 feet tall in zones 3-9.It is a good mixture with yarrow or salvias butterfly bush and Russian sage The seeds are poisonous to deer.

CUSHION SPURGE (euphorbia polychroma) The genus Euphorbia has some 2,000 or more plants all of which are more or less avoided by deer.When working around Euphorbias wear long sleeves and gloves and avoid contact with the skin as it can cause dermatitis. Do not get sap in the eyes. Cushion Spurge makes neat rounded mounds of light green leafy stems topped in the spring by chartreuse flowers which are surrounded byyellow bracts.Plant it in light shade and cut back after flowering.It tolerates drought conditions very well.

FRINGED BLEEDING HEART (Dicentra eximia) The fringed bleeding heartis similar to the common bleeding heart but the plants are lower growing and bloom repeatedly through the season.Their fernlike foliage remains good-looking through hot days.It likes shady gardens and does well with astilbes, wild geraniums and fernsespecially Japanese painted fern.They are completely deer resistant due to their poisonous sap.

ASTILBE (Astilbe arendsii) Astilbes are wonderful when massed together and grown in part shade moist soil which is high in humus.Deer apparently don not like the fern like texture of astilbe leaves.The colors range from white to red to all shades of pink.They make good, long lasting flowers {cut when half open) for arrangements.After the flowers have faded on the plantyou can let them stay on to provide decorative value.

HYBRID SAGE Salvia sylvestris) Sages include both ornamental as well as culinary herbs} Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers whereas deer are repelled by their smell. Sage is best grown in well-drained soil in full sun. ‘May Night’ Sage which has spikes of violet blue flowers was named the Perennial Plant in 1997.

JAPANESE SPURGE (Pachysandra terminalis) Japanese Spurge is a ground cover just called Pachysandra.As a ground cover plant it 6-12 inches apart in light or full shade in humus rich, well drained but moist soil.It has no equal as a ground cover in full shade under tall trees (even black walnut)However do not plant spring bulbs with it as it is a greedy plant.

By Mary Ann Wallace and Gena Goddard