Top 5 Deer Resistant, Early Spring Bulbs

The deer in our neighborhood of Victoria (the Mt. Tolmie black-tailed deer) have shown no interest in these blooms.

An added bonus is that all 5 picks have proven themselves drought tolerant through our long dry summers (even 100 days without rain).

1- Snowdrops (Galanthus) bloom as early as December, but are more common in January.

galanthus bus stop snowdrops in January, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 6-9 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone 3

special notes
– Divide snowdrops during their bloom instead of after the leaves die back.
– see also
Snowdrops – January Gems
Embarrassment of Riches
Snowdrop Meadow

2- Cyclamen coum present foliage in September, and often bloom from December through March.

hardy cyclamen coum, persian violet, eastern sowbread, round-leaf cyclamen, C. coum, Cyclamen orbiculatum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 4 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Part Shade
  • zone 5

special notes
– The autumn-blooming Cyclamen hederifolium is a bully that will out-compete C.coum (and most other hardy cyclamen).  I avoid planting the two in the same bed.
Ants are purported to spread the seeds.  In our natural park areas, cyclamen are unwelcome.  I can think of several other foreigners that would make my list long before Cyclamen.
– see also
Joy In The New Year
Winter Magic
Cyclamen Coum – February Romance

3- Reticulated Iris (Iris reticulata) is another exotic looking surprise in the February garden.

iris reticulata, reticulated iris, dwarf iris garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 4-6 inches high
  • naturalizing … or at least catalogs claim this.  Our old neighbor Don Smart said his spread like crazy, but mine hasn’t taken off
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone  5

special notes
– catalogs also claim these are fragrant.  Perhaps this is the reason the deer ignore them even when there is so little else growing
– see also
Flower Count – Day 4 – Iris
10 February Faves

4- Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) the blooms appear in January & February, just before leafs join the show.

winter aconite, eranthis in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  •  4-6 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 3

special notes
–  The only way to divide these beauties is during their growing season.  The corms look like tiny clumps of dirt, so they’re impossible to find during dormancy. Sometimes I’ve shifted them unknowingly while moving something else.
– see also
Flower Count – Day 1 – Eranthis
Deer Proof

5- Crocus & Snow Crocus appear in lawns and borders during moments of February sunshine.

crocus cluster gardem Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  •  4-6 inches high (depending on cultivar)
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun
  • zone:4 (a few are zone 3)

special notes
–  Snow Crocus top out at 4 inches high, so are great for naturalizing in lawns. Regular crocus are just a touch taller – – they don’t survive when the first mower cuts the grass, so they’re safer in beds.
– All of the Crocus in our yard are proven drought tolerant.
– see also
Flower Count – Day 5 – Crocus
Dandelion Dilemma
Meadow Blooms – Crocus

And yeah, I know, all of these super-early gems are called spring flowers even though, in this mild climate, they bloom before the spring equinox. Don’tcha just LOVE the promise of spring?