Deer like to eat the same-old, same-old. Anything that's too fragrant, too strong or odd-tasting, and they stay away, unless they have no choice. If you live in an area with lots of deer, planning your landscaping takes on a new challenge. After all, you want your plants to stick around, and not become garnish for deer dinner. The following 3 perennials are good staples for any garden. And, for some reason or another, deer don't like them.
There is something to be said for dependability. Dicentra spectabilis, Japanese Bleeding Heart, is an old-fashioned, time-tested perennial that stands up to our beautiful but pesky 4-legged friends. It blooms from late spring to early summer and is an extremely durable perennial, hardy to Zone 2. It's rounded in habit and reaches 2-3 feet in height. Bleeding Heart is an excellent choice for a shady border or as a cut flower, but requires adequate moisture during the summer months. Its rose-red flowers create an arching effect, and, because of their shape, have been referred to as "the living valentine". 'Alba' and 'Pantaloons' are cultivars which have white flowers.
For a mid-summer blooming perennial, you'll love Catmint. Nepetea x faassenii is spreading to upright, ranging in height from 18" to 36". Hardy to Zone 3, it grows well in well-drained soil and full sun. It has lavender to blue trumpet-shaped flowers and will bloom a second time if the plant is cut back one half after the first flowering. It has silvery-gray to green young foliage that has a minty scent. It really looks good when paired with just about anything but is useful as a border or filler. Also, it provides a nice contrast when used as a groundcover under roses. Keep in mind, this plant spreads.
A past Perennial Plant Association's Perennial Plant of the Year, Russian Sage, or Perovskia atriplicifolia, provides late-summer or fall blooming color in the perennial garden. It develops slender, light-blue flower spikes borne on stems of gray-green foliage, all of which give a very light and airy feel to the plant. The flowers are long-lasting, blooming from early July to mid-September, and can be utilized in cut or dried form. Russian Sage matures at about 4 feet by 4 feet, likes full sun, is drought-tolerant, and hardy to Zone 5.