By Julie A. Martens
Deer visit my garden nightly in spring, intent on munching new growth on landscape plants. I outsmart Bambi and his relatives by stocking my garden with plants they dislike such as Siberian squill (pictured above). Let plants set seed, and this perennial bulb spreads to form a blue carpet.
Consider some of my favorite deer-resistant perennials for adding reliable spring color to your Mid-Atlantic garden.
Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
This pretty bloomer is tough to beat for early-spring color. The heart-shape blossoms add a sense of playfulness to the garden and make a sweet addition to bouquets.
Look for varieties that offer white blossoms or gold foliage.
- Deer resistance: It’s strongly deer resistant for me and never shows any signs of browsing by anything.
Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)
A short-lived perennial or biennial, forget-me-not readily self-sows, creating serendipitous plant combinations.
These dainty blooms provide some of the earliest spring color. You also can find forget-me-nots in white or pink shades.
- Deer resistance: I’ve never had deer nibble forget-me-nots, but rabbits have taken a fancy to it on occasion. When that happens I cover plants with bird netting.
Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’
I don’t plant this eye-catching heuchera for its flowers. Who needs blooms when the foliage looks like this?
New growth sparkles in several shades, including gold, peach and chartreuse. Leaves mature to an attractive amber.
- Deer resistance: I’ve had deer and rabbits mow down my heuchera, most often early or extremely late in the season—when it offers the only leaves in sight. To protect plants I toss bird netting over foliage at those times of the year.
This trio showcases three of my all-time favorite spring perennials: bleeding heart, variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’), and Jack Frost brunnera (B. macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’).
- Deer resistance: Deer and rabbits leave these plants alone—and so do the groundhogs that occasionally visit my garden.
If you deal with deer, discover more of my favorite deer-resistant perennials for early-spring color in this video.