Q: I’ve heard a lot about deer resistant perennials. Can you provide more information about deer resistant annuals? What can I put in pots and beds that the deer won’t destroy?
A: Fortunately, living in northern Minnesota gives you many options when selecting deer resistant annuals for your flower beds, potted arrangements, window boxes, or hanging baskets.
Key considerations are location, environment, ease of care/maintenance, and use or purpose of the plant. Are you looking for immediate or season-long color? Do you want plants that bring in texture and color with their foliage? How much sun do your plants require? Do you want to attract pollinators?
I’ve divided some of the most popular plants into sun and shade categories. This is not a full listing of all of the possibilities. These varieties were selected for variation in height and flowers throughout the growing season and include options that are pollinator and hummingbird friendly. It should be noted that these plants are deer resistant, not deer proof. Hungry deer will eat anything when food sources are scarce.
Full sun six or more hours of direct sunlight
- Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
- Canna Lily (Canna indica)
- Geranium (Pelargonium species)
- Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum species)
- Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana species)
- Salvia (salvia species)
- Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)
- Zinnia (Asteraceae)
Part to full shade less than six hours of direct sunlight
- Begonias (Begonia species)
- Caladium (Caladium bicolor and hybrids)
- Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
- Garden Speedwell (Veronica longifolia)
- Persian Shield (Strobilanthes atropurpurea)
- True Forget Me Not (myosotis scorpioides)
- Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri)
Remember that potted plants, whether in a flower box, hanging planter or traditional pot, will need more frequent watering, particularly if your pots are made of a porous material such as terracotta; all potted plants should have adequate drainage to allow the roots to breathe and to prevent root rot.
More information may be found at extension.umn.edu under "Annual flowers that attract pollinators" and "Protecting our gardens from deer." Also njaes.rutgers.edu under "Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance."
Written by U of M Extension Master Gardeners in St. Louis County. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.