Deer resistant Bloom Day & Foliage Follow Up

The new island bed out front, where deer make daily foraging rounds, is holding up well thanks to fuzzy and spiky leaves and strong-smelling foliage. While foliage is the backbone of that bed, flowering perennials are going strong too. It seems natural, then, to combine Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up in one post about the deer-resistant garden this month.

Pictured above, ‘Senorita Rosalita’ cleome, looking stunning (and completely unmunched) in front of bright-yellow-and-green Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard.’

The cleome’s pink-lavender flowers often wash out to a tepid pale pink in my photos, but today I got a few images that capture the color pretty well.

The cobalt flowers and bright-green foliage of majestic sage (Salvia guaranitica) have so far also proven unpalatable to deer.

Tried-and-true lantana grows like a weed under the mailbox in part shade, with no supplemental water, and still blooms. Deer hate it. Gotta love it.

Hymenoxys, or four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa ), has been sampled. One plant was chomped down to an inch high. But it survives, and the others are, so far, untouched and in full bloom, adding cheery color to the front of the bed.

Another four-nerve daisy

The lavender-and-white flowers of Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) are spaced along fragrant, leafy branches, and the deer turn up their noses. I love the fragrance and run my hands across it whenever I walk past.

The spent flowers turn brown and hang on the branches, so it’s worth cutting Mexican oregano back by one-third after the flowers fade. Doing so keeps the plant looking green and tidy and encourages another flush of flowers.

Heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) is a native with fuzzy and oily leaves and stems. Its lavender flowers stand up a foot or a foot-and-a-half tall in springtime, and afterward the plant may disappear entirely during the summer. In winter the fuzzy leaves reappear and make a lovely blue-green mat through spring.

Texas betony (Stachys coccinea) has rough-textured, even irritating, leaves, and the deer have left it entirely alone. Red flowers bloom all summer.

Red cordyline (Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’) is an annual in all but the mildest winters here in Austin, but it sure is worth replanting every year. Deer don’t bother it, and it provides rich color in dry part-shade. The foliage echoes the red of Texas betony flowers.

Various greens make up most of the foliage in my deer-resistant bed: lime-green bamboo muhly, deep-green Texas dwarf palmetto, blue-green silver Mediterranean fan palm. But the real stars are a lemon-lime trio of Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard,’ which anchor the hottest, sunniest corner.

I absolutely love the color and the drama. They make a big statement in this garden.

To see what’s blooming in gardens around the world on this date, visit May Dreams Gardens for links to other Bloom Day posts. To participate in Foliage Follow-Up, which occurs on the day after Bloom Day, just leave a link to your post right here in the comment section and link to this post so I can find you. I’d love to see what foliage you’re mad about this month.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

25 Responses

  1. Diana says:

    Nice collection of deer resistant plants, Pam. Glad to see they’ve gotten well established and the deer are no longer interested. I have a few very small Heart Leafed Skullcaps that my bucks have munched on – would you believe it? But they will leave it alone soon enough – if it just lives that long!

    I’m still surprised when I hear that deer don’t read those deer-resistant lists. Bummer about the skullcap, Diana. —Pam

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I know why deer won’t eat the cleome. They can be so thorny. I wouldn’t eat them either. Ha… I really like those cordylines too. I have this color and a new color of one that I found this spring. I have brought the red one in during winter and it survived one winter but the second winter it died on me. I bought a new one this year. They are so colorful and lend a graceful plume to any planting.

    You’re right about cleomes generally being thorny, Lisa. However, ‘Senorita Rosalita’ does not have thorns, nor much of an odor compared to other varieties. But it’s apparently enough to keep the deer away (for now). —Pam

  3. Lovely collection Pam. With the Salvias in our garden, the first year, the deer mowed them down, repeatedly. However, by the second year, perhaps due to more mature, and woodier, growth the deer didn’t touch them. Jury is still out as to whether they’ll bother them this year, but we’ll know soon, as this spring our deer pressure seems to be increasing!

    Oh no, they’re not supposed to eat salvias! Naughty deer. Our deer pressure is increasing right now too, since the fawns are out with their mothers now. —Pam

  4. Great deer resistant plants. If you decide the daisy isn’t going to work, you can get the same look with gaillardia ‘Yellow Queen’.

    Yes, it depends a lot upon the deer pressure. One winter, they even ate my yucca, but it bounced back and hasn’t been touched since. Don’t know what happened to that deer who ate it!


    Thanks for the suggestion of the gaillardia, Cameron. I’m planning to add more small plants in the fall, so I might try that one anyway. —Pam

  5. Nice work combining the two subjects in one post, but what’s even better is your selection of deer-resistant plants. This is a big issue for us as well, just wish some of those beauties could make it through our winters. Glad to see your hard work is paying off. My Foliage Follow-up post can be found here:

    Thanks for joining in for Foliage Follow-Up, Linda. I’m off to read your post. —Pam

  6. Hi Pam,
    I came to get your link for my foliage post, which is scheduled to post in the morning. Wow, you have a way with plants and the camera! Your blooms and foliage are beautiful. Your majestic sage reminds me of black and blue. I love that lantana photo! I wish it was a perennial here. I’m not familiar with that skullcap, but grow a couple different kinds here.

    Since I live in the city, I don’t have problems with deer, but the rabbits are doing lots of damage this year.

    I like your idea of combining posts, but I have trouble narrowing down the numbers of photos, so I better stick to doing them separately. I do sometimes have a topic or area of my yard that I focus on for the weekly bloom days.

    I usually do my posts separately too, Sue. I was just short on time this month, and this bed seemed like a good one for combining the two topics. As for the ‘Black and Blue’ salvia you mentioned, it is a cultivar of Salvia guaranitica, known here as majestic sage. Mine isn’t the ‘Black and Blue,’ which has a dark calyx at the base of the cobalt flowers. —Pam

  7. Katina says:

    Nice to know that the cleome hasn’t been touched–I wanted to buy one for my Mother In Law (as a late Mother’s day present), but since they’re living in Sun City now, I wasn’t sure if the deer would munch it down to twigs within a matter of minutes.

    So far so good with my deer, Katina. I hope it’ll do as well for your MIL. —Pam

  8. andrea says:

    pam, love the color guard yuccas – are they really that limey/chartreusey green in real light?! they’re striking, especially as you have them planted en masse. i’ll have to keep my eye open for them the next time i’m perusing the austin nursery scene.

    Andrea, yes, they really are this color. I bought mine at Barton Springs Nursery, but they aren’t carrying them now. However, I spotted several nice-looking ones either at Lowe’s on Shoal Creek or HD at Arbor Walk just a week ago. I think it was the Lowe’s. —Pam

  9. I think of you every time I see ‘Senorita Rosalita’ in our local garden center, Pam! I wonder if she blooms so well for you because she knows just how many people around the world you’ve clued in to her charms? :)

    P.S. My foliage post is up now, too:

    ‘Senorita’ is doing so well in my front garden, but sadly the two I have in the back garden (where I grew them last year) are not looking as good. They really got munched by caterpillars a few weeks ago, and now they look kind of anemic. I need to give them an organic foliar feed, I think. Anyway, off to see your foliage post! —Pam

  10. Pam, I’m always amazed at how you manage the impossible. I’ve seen how shady your front yard is, yet you have full sun plants blooming and happy! I’m hoping to join the foliage posting, but I might be a bit belated… thanks for sponsoring!

    No magic here, Robin. (I wish!) The island bed gets a good deal of afternoon sun on one side, so that’s where the sun lovers are positioned. The plants growing in the shadier areas are bamboo muhly, dwarf Texas palmetto, softleaf yucca, ‘Sparkler’ sedge, Texas betony, nolina, Salvia guaranitica, heartleaf skullcap, and pale pavonia. —Pam

  11. My post is up.

    Have a great day!

    Thanks for joining in, Sue. —Pam

  12. gardener says:

    Hi Pam
    Nice post. The red cordyline is a beauty. This month I’m having a quick look at plants that your deer would like, tasty and fragrant.

    I just read your post about herbs, Sue. Actually, deer tend to avoid herbs because they are so fragrant. I’m growing rosemary out front, as well as Mexican oregano, and the deer never touch them. —Pam

  13. I’m always on the lookout for full sun plants that deer don’t like. I’ll make note of Lantana and hunt for some to plant once the ground dries out enough. Love the Yucca ‘Color Guard.’

    Lantana will bloom in partial shade here in central Texas, though it prefers sun. I bet it will need full sun in cooler Chicago. ‘Color Guard’ yucca is hardy to Zone 5, according to Fine Gardening. Would it work for you? —Pam

  14. Nell Jean says:

    Beautiful Cleome. It doesn’t perform at all for me.
    You’ve made the best of deer-resistant plants into a stunning show.

    I linked my Foliage post back to you:

    Try this particular cleome next time, Nell Jean. ‘Senorita Rosalita’ by Proven Winners is a tough but lovely plant for full sun or part shade in the South. —Pam

  15. Yucca ‘Color Guard’ how I love thee. Let me count the ways…
    Maybe I should put those in where I just took out some big, ugly, green yuccas. Hmmm…
    Foliage Follow Up:

    Kelly, you always have such gorgeous foliage in your garden. Everyone, go look at Kelly’s pretty leaves! —Pam

  16. Love your ‘Colorgaurd’ Yucca. I moved mine last year and it seems to be happier this year. I focused on some variegated plants for Foliage Follow Up. I seem to be getting more and more of them.

    Thanks for joining in, Melody. I love variegated foliage too. —Pam

  17. Jean says:

    I love the colors on those yuccas. And I’m glad to see your new front bed doing so well. You obviously picked a great selection of deer resistant plants. I don’t have my foliage post up yet as I can’t seem to find blogging time lately!

    I know the feeling, Jean. There’s no deadline though, so feel free to post your foliage whenever you get to it. —Pam

  18. The yucca is a winner, Pam- and that large raised bed lets it show off. I don’t know how you feel about Euryops… they’re rather stiff plants, but at the previous house their yellow daisy-like flowers remained uneaten. Deer are so weird. They left Copper Canyon Daisy/Tagetes lemmonii pretty much alone but liked the Mexican Mint Marigold/Tagetes lucida so well that I never saw it bloom until we moved here.

    You and your garden are meeting the deer challenge well!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I think the deer have a lot of other food right now after all the rain. We’ll see how things hold up this winter, when food gets scarce. But I’m ever-hopeful! —Pam

  19. Lynne says:

    Pam – Your pictures are great, and they’ve given me some good ideas for plants to try in my deer-infested garden. Last year, they ate/ tasted every flower except my red Salvias. Not this year!

    Argh, how frustrating for you! I hope you can foil the deer with a few new, untasty but beautiful plants this year, Lynne. —Pam

  20. Les says:

    Your photography is once again lovely. I particularly like the shot of the Yucca and its filaments, as well as the macro of Lantana, which is one of my favorite annual/perennial.

    Thanks, Les. That yucca is such a ham! It was jumping into the background of nearly every image that day (and looking good as a backdrop). —Pam

  21. Hi Pam! I just found you! Great blog you have and beautiful photos – the colour is fantastic. So, here’s a foliage followup – I posted about some ole’ roses:
    Thanks! Will be back to visit later…..

    Thanks for joining in, Heather. Your roses are lovely, but the idea for Foliage Follow-Up is to celebrate foliage, bark, leaves, etc.—any non-flowering thing in your garden. Hope to see your favorite foliage next time! —Pam

  22. Lola says:

    Hi Pam.
    I don’t have a blog but I do enjoy yours. Love all those lovely blooms & the foliage also. That ‘Senorita’ sure is a pretty girl. Wouldn’t mind having some of her. I haven’t had Cleome in several yrs. but this yr it came up volunteer, of all things. I hope I can get some seeds. It is the lavender color. Think I’ll try for some white ones also.

    I’ve read that cleome is a big self-seeder, Lola. That’s not the case with ‘Senorita Rosalita,’ however, which is sterile, according to Proven Winners. I certainly didn’t get any seedlings from the two I grew last year (more’s the pity). —Pam

  23. Joyce says:

    I am enjoying ALL your plants and your comments about them all. I love the caladiums and the yuccas and your photography is just awesome. Thanks for sharing…I’ll be back :)

    Thanks for visiting, Joyce. —Pam

  24. Excellent post. We’ve got to do what we can to discouraged those hooved grazers. Sometimes, they drive me nuts. However, the raccoons are way worse here. Lost another chicken last night despite the trap.~~Dee

    Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that, Dee. Yes, at least the deer are only herbivores. —Pam

  25. Caroline says:

    My post is late, quite late:
    I covet those Color Guard yuccas! I did find a Bright Star that seems to be doing well (no shots this month, though).

    I saw some ‘Color Guard’ yuccas at Lowe’s on Shoal Creek recently, Caroline. (Either there or at Arbor Walk Home Depot.) It might be worth calling to see if they still have some. —Pam