It’s the same sad story from many folks living where deer are too-frequent visitors to the backyard: You wait all winter for your spring bulbs to poke through the frozen ground, and when they do, deer munch them right back down to nothing before they even come close to blooming. So what’s a gardener to do? Some people try fences or repellents, but these don’t always work. Instead, try planting deer-resistant bulbs that Bambi and friends will ignore, and fill your yard with blooms each spring!
Snowdrops. If you’re looking for the earliest possible blooms, snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) are the way to go. These deer-resistant blooms are the first to pop up, often before the snow is even gone. You’ll love double snowdrops for their unusual green-and-white flowers – try these from Breck’s. Zones 4 – 7.
Spring Starflower. This cheerful little spring bloomer is closely-related to alliums and daffodils, so it shares their deer-resistance. Spring Starflower isn’t planted as widely as it could be, but makes an excellent choice for an area you’d like to naturalize. They’re available in blue, white, and pink; Breck’s offers a nice mix of all three colors. Zones 5 – 9.
Daffodils. Daffodils are the king of deer-resistant bulbs. They contain an alkaloid called lycorine that is distasteful and even poisonous to deer (and rabbits and other mammals). And if you think daffodils are all the same yellow blooms, you haven’t been keeping up! Daffodils come in an array of striking types and shades, from creams and oranges to peach and pink, with ruffled cups and even double blooms. Different varieties bloom at different times during the spring, so plant a mix of early, middle, and late-blooming bulbs to keep the season going. See this list of 5 new daffodil bulbs for 2015 to get some fresh ideas. Zones 3 – 8.
Hyacinth. If you believe the best spring flowers are the fragrant ones, then hyacinths are the deer-resistant bulbs for you. Just one spike of these flowers is enough to fragrance a whole room, and they do well as cut flowers if brought in just as the flowers begin to open. This mix from Michigan Bulb Co. has a great variety of colors. Zones 3 – 8.
Allium. These members of the onion family seem to be distasteful to deer and rabbit alike. The globe-shaped flower clusters are beautiful, and as an added bonus, they attract butterflies too! Learn more about alliums in the garden here. Zones 4 – 9.