March 15, 2009

Deer and Rabbit Resistant Perennials

My deer friends haven't been hanging around the garden much these days. I am using a 32" high wire edging fence around the garden to keep them from plowing up the seeds that I've sown. Yes, they can jump it, but since everything in the outer garden is deer-resistant, they are too lazy to go over the little fence to forage.

The rabbits are proving to be more of a challenge. I don't use repellants for deer, but I recently started using a rabbit repellant. Rabbits fit under my cottage garden fence and have been making nightly raids.

As gardeners in deer and rabbit country begin planning, here are my three favorite perennials that are reliably resistant for both critters in my Zone 7, full sun garden. These plants are relatively easy to find at local nurseries or online.

I always use this disclaimer: your deer and rabbits may like plants that my deer and rabbits won't eat.


Agastache is a perennial for many color schemes. Agastache bloom from June through fall in my garden. I have 'Salmon and Pink' that looks good with coneflowers and salvia greggii 'Dark Dancer'. Agastache 'Cornado' is apricot and looks good with agastache 'Blue Fortune'. In the fall, I added 'Purple Haze' and 'Tutti-Fruitti'. I have seeds for 'Purple Pygmy'. Drought-tolerant, sunny locations and poor soil. There are quite a few agastache choices available for zones 5-9.


I rely upon nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' and 'Walkers Low' as easy, deer and rabbit proof plants that look good from spring through fall. The base foliage of these are already green, so I cut back the dead stems last week using cordless hedge trimmers. Nepeta will repeat bloom all summer if trimmed when the blooms fade. This is an easy perennial to divide by using a shovel in the spring.


Salvia greggii has never been touched by deer or rabbits. I have several colors and sizes, including the generic autumn sage. I like the red and magenta colors, but have also added the white and purple. Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' is a nice, cobalt blue. Salvia greggii and 'Black & Blue' are hummingbird favorites and do well as drought tolerant perennials. If you have a moist soil area in full sun, salvia uliginosa (bog sage) is another variety that is not eaten by the critters. The bog sage is pale blue and white. It grows quite tall and will spread rapidly by runners. There are so many salvias in the world, that I cannot begin to describe all the choices!

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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The Musician. My late husband

The Musician. My late husband
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