April 24, 2009

Deer in Your Garden? Meet the Lamiaceae Family


The reliably deer resistant plants in my garden are all from the same family tree. Well, not an actual tree, but they are classified in botany as belonging to the Lamiaceae family. A few of the relatives of the mint family may surprise you since they are great flowering plants for the garden. A few other relatives, you will know as being mints (and can run rampant). You'll recognize some well-behaved herbs as well as foliage plants.

Understanding a bit about plant families can help you select the plants that will survive a deer onslaught. The Lamiaceae family of plants has never even been sampled by the deer herd on my property. As with all other authors of this subject, I must say that there is always the possibility that your deer will be desperate enough to learn to like any plant.

TAMU Image Gallery for Plant Family: Lamiaceae

In my deer resistant garden, I am growing the following plants from the family Lamiaceae:

Agastache (hyssop)
Ajuga
Caryopteris (blue mist shrub; also classified as Verbenaceae)
Lavandula (lavender)
Mentha (mint - in pots only!)
Monarda (bee balm)
Nepeta
Ocimum (basil)
Origanum (marjoram, oregano)
Perovskia (Russian sage)
Phlomis (Jerusalem sage)
Physostegia (Obedient plant - 'Miss Manners')
Rosmarinus (rosemary)
Salvia (sage - herbs and flowers)
Scutellaria (flower, skullcap)
Stachys (betony, lamb's ear)
Thymus (thyme)
Vitex (chaste tree)


There are a few other good plant families for deer resistant gardens, such as Verbenaceae that includes verbena and lantana. The deer did, however, pick quite a few lantana flowers last fall, much to my surprise as they left it alone all summer and all years in the past.

The Buddleja (buddleia, butterfly bush) is another reliable, deer resistant family of summer flowering shrubs.

The Asteraceae (aster) family of plants can be hit-or-miss with deer. I am growing the following with some success (noted), but you may have some nibbling of these with your deer herd:

Achillea (yarrow - no problems)
Ageratum (floss flower - some nibbles, nothing significant)
Aster (eaten by rabbits, gave up)
Chrysanthemum (mums - haven't sufficiently tested, but on my list)
Coreopsis (tickseed - no deer problems, but I wonder about rabbits?)
Echinacea (sampled, no serious damage, but protect from rabbits)
Echinops (didn't eat while in bloom, but ate foliage down after bloom; plants returned this year)
Gaillardia (blanket flower - a nip here and there, but got masses of blooms)
Helianthus (severe munching of swamp sunflower)
Osteospermum (annual, no damage)
Rudbeckia ('Goldsturm', no deer problems, but rabbits love these)


Most of my deer resistant testing has been with perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees. For the summer, I have sown great quantities of annual seeds (larkspur, poppies, strawflowers, cleome, nicotiana, tagetes, flax, zinnias, etc.) to test. Snapdragons have been reliably deer resistant. I have just planted Angelonia to test.

I will always report my results here on my blog and you can check past stories by selecting my deer resistance topic on the sidebar.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips 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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