Living in the Northern Chicago suburbs means abundant parks and forest preserves along with various critters ready to snack on our gardens. Here are six deer- and rabbit-resistant shrubs that will discourage them from feasting on your plants.
Deer and rabbits dislike Butterflies Diervilla (Diervilla sessilifolia ‘Butterfly’), although butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy its sweet-tasting yellow flowers during early-mid summer. Once fall comes along, the green foliage will turn a stunning shade of deep red-purple. Kodiak Black, Kodiak Orange and Kodiak Red are three other great Diervillas in a variety of foliage colors that are especially stunning in spring and autumn. 3-4’ tall and wide. Full sun – part shade. Prune after flowering.
Spring Sensation Deutzia (Deutzia ‘Kolmaspri’) is a white-flowering shrub that deer and rabbits find unappetizing. If you live a little closer to the city, or have a busy parkway that needs a facelift, it may be a good choice for you. Deutzia tolerates urban settings because it is not picky with the pH of the soil. It flowers white in mid-late spring. 5’ tall and wide. Chardonnay Pearls, with pale golden yellow flowers, and Yuki Cherry Blossom, with pale pink flowers, are other hardy cultivars of Deutzia that stay a little smaller at 24 inches tall and wide. Full sun. Prune after blooming.
If you’re looking for a brilliant spring-flowering shrub, Show-Off Forsythia (Forsythia intermedia ‘Mindor’) is the one. Forsythia is known as the harbinger of spring, as it is usually the first to bloom its bright yellow flowers. Once it finishes blooming, its green foliage is perfect for a hedge or a foundation plant in your garden. 5-6’ tall and wide. If you’re looking for a smaller Forsythia, Show-Off Starlet Forsythia is a smaller upright shrub that grows to 2-3’ tall; Show off Sugar Baby is a miniature upright shrub at only 1-1/2-2 ft. tall; and Gold Tide is a low, spreading shrub that matures to 1-2 ft. tall. Sun – part shade. Prune after blooming.
Lavender Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Notwoodone’) offers delicate, double lavender flowers throughout the summer months. This shrub is an upright focal point in the garden. Or, plant a hedge and enjoy an abundance of summer flowers that deer and rabbits will find unpleasant. 8-10’ tall x 4-6’ wide. Varying cultivars offer a wide variety of colors and sizes, such as similarly sized Blue Chiffon which blooms with double blue flowers and Sugar Tip, which has double pale pink blooms; and Lil Kim, a dwarf Rose of Sharon at 3-4 ft. tall, offering single white flowers with a red eye. Full sun – part shade. Prune during late winter (Jan-March).
Renaissance Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea vanhouttei ‘Renaissance’) is a showy, flowering, disease-resistant shrub that will attract butterflies, but not deer and rabbits. It has small white flowers that bloom down each stem of the shrub in April and May. The flowers bloom best when in full sun, but it can also tolerate light shade. Leave some room in your garden for this focal point to grow. 6-8’ tall x 8-12’ wide. Full sun. Prune after flowering.
Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’) is a staple for those who love fragrant flowers, which luckily deer and rabbits dislike. Its pale purple panicle flowers bloom in May and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. 4-5’ tall x 5-6’ wide. Full sun – part shade. Prune after blooming.
Unfortunately, if deer and rabbits are hungry, they will eat almost anything. But by planting these flowering shrubs in your garden, they may think twice next time they venture into your yard in hopes of a meal.