Deer-Resistant Shrub for Western Gardening

Potentilla fruticosa, also known as bush cinquefoil, is a reliable no-maintenance shrub that is one of the 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants mentioned in a new book by Ruth Rogers Clausen.

The first blooms are showing up on the Potentilla in my cottage garden and I’m so glad to see them.

This shrub looked dead just a few short weeks ago and now it’s covered in fine-textured¬† grayish-green leaves and hundreds of little blossoms ready to pop like corn.

Seemingly overnight, it turned from brown to green and now has my admiration for making it through one of the driest Denver winters on record.

This native shrub will soon explode with little yellow flowers that will last most of the summer. It usually blooms again in fall. It has a nice bushy habit that retains a somewhat rounded shape without any pruning. In fact I didn’t even touch it this spring because I didn’t think it was going to make it.

As a featured plant in Ruth Rogers Clausen’s new book (Timber Press) on deer-resistant plants, it’s the hairy leaves that deer don’t like to eat. She gives the bush cinquefoil a high 9-10 deer resistance rating which means deer occasionally browse the young spring foliage, but mostly avoid the plant altogether.

Even though I don’t have a deer problem in my suburban backyard, I was pleased to find my yard has six other plants she recommends including yarrow, English lavender, weigela, daffodil bulbs, fountain grass, and switch grass. Some of the herbs I grow every year are also unappealing to deer.

Stay tuned for more reliable plants for Western gardening in the next week.


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