Planting Deer Resistant Fall Bulbs

Alliums or ornamental onions (Allium giganteum) attract many pollinating insects.

Alliums or ornamental onions (Allium giganteum) attract many pollinating insects.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Are you frustrated because Bambi dines on your plants? Lilies and tulips have neon dinner signs above them that say “Eat Here!” This fall, consider planting deer resistant bulbs that will put on a quite a floral show in the spring. Here are some suggestions that will keep the deer away and provide you with beautiful spring color.

Alliums or ornamental onions (Allium giganteum) have bulbs with a strong flavor and an oniony flower fragrance that act as a deer repellant. They grow best in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. In South Carolina, alliums benefit from some light afternoon shade due to our hot climate. One benefit of alliums is that pollinator insects love them.

Daffodils (Narcissus species) are an excellent choice for any sunny to part shade garden. These low maintenance bulbs prefer well-drained soil and will multiply over the years. Nothing says spring is finally here and brightens away winter doldrums than daffodils. They are also poisonous, so deer are not tempted to eat them.

There are a wide variety of daffodils selections (Narcissus species) that range in color and height.

There are a wide variety of daffodils selections (Narcissus species) that range in color and height.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Hyacinths (Hyacinthus species) will grow from full sun to part shade. They are loaded with a poison sap that deer avoid. When you’re handling and planting the bulbs, be sure to wear gloves, as the sap can irritate your skin.

Lily-of-the Valley (Convallaria majalis) has beautiful, highly fragrant bell-shaped flowers in the spring. They prefer full shade and will possibly need a year’s time to become well established. Deer don’t like the fragrance, as it warns them that these beauties are poisonous.

Be sure to wear gloves when handling hyacinth bulbs (Hyacinthus species), as the sap may irritate the skin.

Be sure to wear gloves when handling hyacinth bulbs (Hyacinthus species), as the sap may irritate the skin.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

The highly fragrant lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)deter deer.

The highly fragrant lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) deter deer.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Siberian Squills (Scilla siberica) are a wonderful addition to a low-maintenance garden as they will grow well in dry conditions from full sun to full shade. The star-shaped flowers may be blue, white, or pink. Deer don’t like the thick, fleshy foliage.

Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) are some of the first bulbs to bloom in the late winter to early spring. Planted in a shady spot, they will add delicate white blooms to your garden. Due to the toxic nature of snowdrops, deer go out of their way to avoid munching on them.

Siberian squills (Scilla siberica) will grow in full sun to full shade conditions.

Siberian squills (Scilla siberica) will grow in full sun to full shade conditions.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Snowdrops ((Galanthus elwesii) are some of the first bulbs to bloom in the late winter or early spring.

Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) are some of the first bulbs to bloom in the late winter or early spring.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

For more information on planting spring flowering bulbs, please see HGIC 1155, Spring Flowering Bulbs.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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