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  • Writer's pictureHelen Newling Lawson

Yes, you can plant hostas in deer country!

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Say what?! Yes, and panicle hydrangeas, and roses, and pansies, and other yummy stuff. But you've gotta harness the power of the container.

Container gardening is a great way to still grow the plants you love, but out of reach of deer. Now, I have heard tell of deer who will come up on decks... just like all deer-resistant gardening advice, there is a deer out there hungry enough to prove it wrong.

So maybe you need to think about a really high deck. (I'm lucky - we actually have a triple-decker deck.) Or maybe you will need to try a balcony. Or a window box... from a second story window. But chances are, you can find some sort of place to locate a container where it's in your line of sight, but out of reach for roving deer.

And its also pretty likely that the spot is exactly the right place for a container focal point, anyway. I'm talking flanking the front door, along a porch railing, gracing an outdoor dining space, or perfuming your favorite sitting area. For example, I love to put pansies in window boxes just outside my kitchen window. In my climate, they will bloom during the dreary late winter months, and brighten my view--and my mood--with the promise of spring. I enjoy them there far more than I imagine any passers-by would if I planted them curbside.

But wait a minute, you're thinking. Panicle hydrangeas and roses in containers? Yes indeed, if you try one of the new dwarf varieties bred for small spaces. Here are just a few container-sized deer favorites to try:

Baby Lace(R) hydrangea

Fluffy white flower heads, red stems, and bright green foliage. I paired mine this year with a burgundy and lime green coleus that picked up the stem color and created a dark-colored backdrop for the clouds of flowers, and added some structure with a Hot Head arborvitae. I just realized that a Kaleidoscope abelia I had waiting to be planted looks great next to it, so it might stay in its container a little longer.

Sunrosa(TM) dwarf shrub rose

Fragrance in a pint-sized package. Dainty blooms in your choice of red, orange, yellow or pink cover the plant from late spring until frost. Highly disease resistant and small enough to not need pruning. I chose the Sunrosa yellow, and paired it with lime green hosta ('Guacamole') to fill out the container and provide complementary golden tones.

Bloom 'N Again azaleas

Not only are these azaleas more compact, growing to about 3-4", but they are repeat bloomers, following up the traditional spring show with a second flush of bloom in autumn. I picked the variety called Fireglow for its glowing coral color, an autumnal hue that will look great when it's time to gather around the firepit on cooler evenings.

Bloom 'N Again azaleas put on a second show in fall, and are smaller than typical azaleas.

In all of these container arrangements, hosta makes a great "filler" and comes in such a variety of foliage colors I can always find the right accent tone.

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