deer resistant/drought tolerant groundcover for part sun/shade

spazzycat_1July 19, 2008

This is going to be a challenge. For the last 15 years, Geranium sanguineum has been a great servicable groundcover for a planting near the entrance to our property outside the deer fence and for that time, it was rarely browsed. But, the deer pressure has increased so much in my area, that now the deer are eating it to the ground all year round.

Requirements for a replacement groundcover:

- part sun/shade

- drought tolerant (no irrigation other than to get the plants established)

- would be complimentary to the other plants in the bed: Croscomia 'Lucifer', Cotinus, Lonicera 'Lemon Beauty', Narcissus 'Ice Follies', blue fescue grass, and Stipa)

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I am truly sorry about this. I empathize. I know how it goes.

I don't know if you have enough sun, but given that you've mentioned about lambs ears? They look good with blue fescue grass. I realize they don't provide the blooms, but they are reliably drought and deer tolerant. They can make a nice edging that with a bit of raking of old foliage in the spring, look good.

Another deer proof favorite of mine is nepeta. Walkers Low looks good with crocosmia as well as yellows and plants with blue foliage. It has a long bloom season and makes a nice billowy edging plant or groundcover. I have a section of edging where I use both nepeta and lambs ears.

Wishing you the best with this...


    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 11:56AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Deer will definately NOT eat Geranium maccrorhizum, Big Root Geranium. The leaves are highly scented, and that will put them off. It's a somewhat larger plant tha G. sanguineum, but very attractive, and spreads from roots that move across the surface. Very easy to control too. it takes full shade to almost full sun, though it may scorch some in full sun.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 6:36AM
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Cameron: Lambs ears may be a possibility. I think there's enough sun. Lambs ears do better here with a little shade and I have some edging another bed that I could borrow from.

Laceyvail: I had thought about G. maccrorhizum as I have lots of that in another part of my garden and I think it's a great groundcover. Believe it or not, my deer have occasionally browsed on it (they're omnivores), so I was sort of reluctant to try it out there. I may start a small test patch to see if those particular deer are interested. Actually, it would look really good with lambs ears fronting it, so I might just do that.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 10:25AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

This one blooms more in full sun, but might still work, Delosperma congestum. It is drought tolerant, the deer never touch it, unlike the groundcover sedums, which they looove. Plus it has cheerful yellow blooms in late spring, and off and on through the summer. There are other perennial iceplants in pink, white, or purple, if you don't care for the yellow.

Mine is on the west side of my house, and only gets a few hours of late afternoon sun, and it is thriving.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 10:49AM
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I have thyme and soapwort growing in a part sun/shade, dry bed that gets lots of deer and rabbit grazing. So far neither has been bothered - unlike most of the other plants this year, which have taken a harder hit than usual.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 1:40PM
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Stachys byzantina 'Helen von Stein' (big ears) is my favorite and it has never bloomed. The smaller ones bloom and then they (to me) are a mess to deadhead and keep neat looking compared to big ears.

Here's one of mine with a rose campion pretending to bloom out of it. :-)

Thyme is also good.

If you like lime/bright, the spirea 'Limemound' is a great little thing when used as a companion with plants of blue foliage/blooms. I have it beside a nepeta.

I wish I could send you some of my creeping perennial heliotrope 'Azure Skies' as it blooms not stop from spring until frost. A great groundcover that resembles verbena. Totally deer and rabbit proof. It even floats across my stream and can take full sun or partial shade. A few plants and you can keep taking cuttings to create as much as you want.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 2:59PM
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Awwww geee, Won, why'd you have to do that ... now I'm going to have to find some of that creeping perennial heliotrope.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:18PM
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Good suggestions one and all. I got alot more feedback than I thought I would.

Bonnie: I love iceplant, but to grow it well here, you must have an open, well-drained spot (almost sandy) that does not get covered by leaves in the winter.

Vjhale: Thyme is also a possibility, but it kind of needs the same conditions as iceplant. When it gets hot and humid here, it tends to brown out. Soapwort, I grow it now on top of a stone wall. I never considered using it as a groundcover. Hmmmm.

Cameron: I did not realize that Heliotrope "Azure Skies" is perennial, and I'm right down the road from you as the crow flies, so I will definitely check into that. That would be a perfect complement to the bed if I could make it work.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 9:42AM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

My soapwort showed an interest in covering the entire garden but bumped up against the mother of thyme. They were duking it out mercilessly when I yanked the MOT.

I'm surprised thyme browns out for you. MOT thrives (thrived) in clay between slate pavers in NoVA.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 12:37PM
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Spazzycat -- if you are close by me (I'm in Chatham County just south of UNC), you can certainly come by and get some cuttings from me to root. All I do is cut a piece of the heliotrope off; sometimes I use a rooting gel, other times I don't; put it in moist soil. Sometimes I watch for rain and just stick them directly in the garden to root! They are that easy! You can have all the cuttings you want as I need to trim back the one growing by one of my stream bridges.

SEE...on the right side, it is literally on top of the water in our stream! My husband keeps after me about the fact that it is taking over the bridge and slowing down the stream! LOL

Drop me an email if you want to stop by.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Cameron, I sent you an email.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 1:36PM
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