Low Light Perennials - Knowledgebase Question

MILTON, MA (Zone 6A)
Question by josephsusi
February 22, 2009

I would like to plant perenials in areas that don't get a lot of sun. Deer are also a problem. Can you recomend some perinials with size and color that deer might not eat? Thank you.

Answer from NGA
February 22, 2009


Deer love many of the common shade plants; Hostas, Astilbes and Ajuga are among their favorites. But there are several plants that are tolerant of shade that deer do not like. Among them are:

Acanthus spp. - Bear's Breech. All species of Bear's Breech are unpalatable to deer. These have very large bold leaves and interesting flower spikes to 5 feet tall. They will be happy in light shade but not deep shade.
Aconitum spp. - Monkshood makes a great delphinium substitute in light shade. They are poisonous so deer will learn over time to leave them alone.
Aruncus spp - Goat's Beard is a tall-growing plant with ferny leaves and fluffy flowers much like an astible. They will grow in light shade and sparsley in deep shade.
Asarum spp. - Wild Ginger - A lovely groundcover. Look under the foliage to see the elusively attractive brown red perianth flower. The common species, A. canadense is very hardy and vigorous but if you are into the odd you may want to try Asarum magnificum, pictured at left.
Convallaria majalis - Lily-of-the-Valley. Tiny white nodding bells clothed by elliptical leaves in late spring. Combine with ferns, oxalis oregana or asarum for a totally deer-resistant shaded groundcover.
Geranium macrorrhizum This hardy Cranesbill has a funk to it's leaves that deer don't like, although they will eat the flowers if there's nothing else around. Likes light-shade only.

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