by Connie Gilt, Guernsey County Master Gardener
If you have a space, not so close to the house that you’ve been considering for a new planting, look at drought and deer resistant plants. Deer numbers are rising and droughts are inevitable.
Before purchasing plants consider doing a soil test. The Ohio State University Extension Office can guide you through this process. It is simple and inexpensive. Next, amend the soil with organic matter. Most drought resistant plants do best in well drained soil, so raised beds are a good option. Use organic fertilizer at the recommended rate or slow release chemical fertilizer; applied in the spring; at half strength. My very short tutorial on preparation over, let’s get to the plants.
Many drought resistant plants can be considered deer resistant, probably because of the tougher cell structure necessary to withstand desiccation. Spiny and fuzzy plants, as well as plants with intense odors are usually turned down by deer too.
Drought tolerance is a quality of established plants. New plantings need sufficient watering to grow and send down their roots. During this period of tender growth they may still tempt deer. This is the time to try deer repellant. Fencing may be needed for young trees and shrubs. The good news is once established, most deer and drought resistant plants will require very little maintenance.
The following is a list of plants both drought and deer resistant in this area:
· morning glory
· sweet alyssum
· dusty miller
· Campanula (bellflower)
· Black-eyed Susan
· Warm Season Grasses
· Lamb’s Ear
· Russian Sage
· Hens & Chicks
· St. John’s Wort
· Cactus (prickly pear)
Shrubs & Trees
· Butterfly Bush
· American Holly
· Norway Spruce
· Kousa Dogwood
· Rugosa Rose
Warm season ornamental grasses, junipers, and daffodils, in my garden, have had no damage from drought or deer. Junipers are the only conifer I have planted that the deer have left alone. Artemisia, lavender, allium and yarrow are reported to repel deer!
Once your planting is complete, mulch. Mulching reduces evaporation, cools the soil, and suppresses weeds. Water your plants well the first year until they become established. After that, watering should be necessary only during very dry spells.
For more information on deer and drought resistant plants contact the OSU Extension Office or visit the website http://ohioline.osu.edu.