Saturday, April 13, 2013

Four Deer Resistant Plants

Almost every family in the upper Midwest has a garden. Some people grow vegetables to sustain their family through the winter months while others just love to garden.  The winter months are long and cold and after being indoors for so long, our hearts yearn to go outside. We want to dig in the ground and have fresh produce. However, living in the Midwest has its own set of problems, especially for those of us who live in the country. Deer are beautiful animals, but they will often visit your garden, dining on your well-tended plants as if you grew them a buffet dinner. There are some ways you can solve this problem such as putting up a fence, getting some dogs, or forgoing your garden altogether. That would be a shame. The better solution is to grow plants that deer do not like to eat. Plant some of these deer-resistant plants around the outside perimeter of your garden and/or throughout the garden.

 Photo by: B.D.'s world
Bee Balm
Bee balm grows anywhere that has full sun to part shade. This long living, tough perennial plant attains a height of 3 feet with an equal spread. It is hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 9, and it looks great in the landscape. You can grow this plant in beds and borders for a colorful display. Bee balm starts blooming in mid- to late summer, and it continues to bloom into the fall. The flowers come in a verity of colors such as pink, red, purple, or white.
People often harvest the bee balm’s dark green, aromatic foliage to make a drinkable tea or they use the flowers in fresh or dried floral arrangements. If you have a butterfly garden, bee balm is perfect because it attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to the area. Bee balm is drought resistant and can exist on rainwater, but if your area is going through an extended drought, you may want to give it some water to keep it healthy. Once the plants become established, they often spread to fill in the area. The only problem with bee balm is that they are prone to mildew, so pick mildew resultant varieties. 

Photo by: Goosefriend

Heart-leaf brunnera, also known as Siberian bugloss, is native to Siberia and the Eastern Mediterranean. This perennial is a shade loving plant that grows best in moist, well-drained soils with a pH level or 5.6 to 7.5. It is hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 7. The small, delicate looking flowers tower above the foliage on thin stems. The heart-shaped leaves are a light gray-green with dark green edging around the outside perimeter. They have a velvety, fuzzy feel to them. Brunnera grows to heights of 12 to 18 inches, with a spread of 18 to 24 inches. 

Photo by: Drew Avery
If you have cats, then you are probably familiar with the plant, catmint. This perennial plant is hardy in U.S.D.A. zones 4 through 8. The gray green foliage emits a lovely minty fragrance, so each time you brush against it, or step on it, the scent perfumes the air. The blue flowers tower above the foliage on top of the main stems. If you want to prolong the blooming period, cut the spend blossoms off the plant. 

Catmint is tough and hardy, surviving when the weather is hot and dry. You can plant catmint in a spot that offers full sun to part sun. We even have some growing in the shade. It will grow from 4 to 36 inches tall with a spread of 12 to 24 inches. In the landscape, grow catmint in containers, beds, or borders. We have our catmint plants growing throughout our garden areas. During the spring and summer, we pick stems and bring them in for our cats. This not only entertains our cats, it promotes a bushier growth on the plant. 

Lungwort is a perennial herb grown not only for the flowers, but also for its foliage. This plant is one of the earliest spring blooming plants available. Lungwort is hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 2 through 8 depending on the variety. They can grow 6 to 12 inches tall with a spread of 1 1/2 to 2 feet. Lungwort is an easy to grow, drought resistant plant. The fragrant, bright blue, pink, or white flowers appear amidst rough basal leaves. Sometimes the flowers start out pink, but as they mature, the color changes to blue. The foliage has spots of silvery-white splotches. The pattern on the leaves reminds me of raindrops. 

Lungwort has medicinal properties. It contains antibiotics and years ago, people used it to treat lung diseases, gastrointestinal, and kidney problems and the healing of wounds. Lungwort is still being used today. Before you take it internally, check with your doctor first, because it contains the toxic pyrrolizidin alkaloids, which is a toxic.

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