Ear to the Ground: The Insider Dirt to Gardening in Upstate NY

Deer-resistant bulbs to plant in the fall

by cathym on September 10, 2020

List compiled by Ken Harbison; photos courtesy Colorblends.com

The fall-planted bulbs that are most deer resistant are: 

  1. Daffodil and related Narcissus spp. The bulbs of this family contain a number of toxic alkaloids, of which the most important in daffodils is lycorine. All parts of the plant are toxic, with the highest toxicity in the bulbs.
  2. Ornamental onions, Allium spp., are avoided because of the strong smell.
  3. Crown imperial, Fritillaria imperialis, is also avoided because of the strong smell.
  4. Autumn crocus, Collchicum autumnale, contains the toxic alkaloid colchicum. They are planted in early fall for leafless bloom in fall. The foliage appears in the spring. 

The following bulbs may occasionally be nibbled by deer, but are seldom seriously damaged:

  1. Grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum 
  2. Hyacinth, Hyacinthus orientalis 
  3. Trout lily, a.k.a. dogtooth violet, Erythronium spp.
  4. Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis
  5. Glory of the snow, Chionodoxa spp.
  6. Spanish bluebell, Hyacinthoides hyspanica
  7. Siberian squill, Scilla siberica

Ken Harbison is a Master Gardener with Monroe County.

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