The Q&A Archives: Deer resistant; shade/part shade loving perennial suggestions needed

Question: Hi:
I would like to know what you recommend in the above subject line and also whether or not Liriope Muscari is typically found to be 'deer resistant/proof'? My front yard is a foraging ground for the white tails and does not lend itself to a deer fence. I also realize that deer diet's change and your info. is subject to food availability.
Look forward to your response.
Dave D.

Answer: Unfortunately this is a very difficult question to answer. In my own garden the deer pulled out the newly planted liriope by the roots and flung it across the yard. (I guess they didn't like it.) In my yard they usually leave the lamium alone, also the ferns, ajuga, and Vinca minor. It's a pretty short list. I would suggest you check with your neighbors and see what the local population has learned to eat or is still leaving alone. If they are browsing in your yard as a habit they will probably try everything you plant. Here is my overall "deer problem" suggestion along with links to some lists. Good luck with your planting!

It is nearly impossible to give you a reliable listing of plants that deer will or will not eat -- I have seen our own local deer eat many things listed as supposedly unattractive to deer. Unfortunately, these are adaptable animals and they will learn to eat new plants when there is a harsh winter or a food shortage or when new things are planted along their usual browse path. So a list from one area will not necessarily be applicable to another. The best you can hope to do is check with local neighboring gardeners and find out what the local deer population already recognizes as edible, which plants they are having the best and worst luck with, and plant accordingly. (Your local county extension may also have some suggestions.) It is also worth mentioning that deer can do almost as much damage by trampling as by eating and since they are creatures of habit, if they already dine at your house they will continue to come onto your property to do so if at all possible. In my own sad experience, a tall fence is the only reliable long term defense against these creatures, especially in an area where the pressure is severe. Repellents may also be effective if consistently applied and reapplied according to the label instructions, but this is a lot of work if your plantings are extensive.

Having said all that, here are some lists.

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