The solution? Choose deer-resistant varieties of annual and perennial flowering plants.

Said Ellen Withee at Boynton’s Greenhouses in Skowhegan: “Deer tend to avoid strong fragrances, irritating textures and unpleasant tastes. Some people use blood meal, but that really stinks.”

Fortunately, many gardeners’ favorites, including lupine, foxglove, poppy, and coneflower, aren’t a deer’s first choice. Lavender’s woody texture and strong scent make it a less desirable snack.

At Sunset Flowerland & Greenhouses in Fairfield, Catherine Hebert hears lots of sure-fire methods for keeping four-legged critters at bay.

“One that seems to be popular is hanging aluminum pie plates from a string,” she said.  “The deer are startled when they blow in a breeze or when the sun reflects off them.”

In May, when she and her staff open their greenhouses, they keep a long list of flowering perennials and annuals to share with customers. She said deer don’t like pachysandra, peonies, salvia, yarrow or flowering onions.

“They also don’t like coreopsis, snapdragons, marigolds, Siberian iris or shasta daisies,” she said. “But they will eat most anything when they’re hungry.”

Steve Jones of Fieldstone Gardens in Vassalboro said deer don’t often bother ornamental grasses.  Artemisia, known more commonly as Dusty Miller, is easy to grow and not popular with the four-legged creatures. And “ferns, in general, aren’t preferred by deer,” he said.

Rena Dodge, of Black-Eyed Susan’s Greenhouses in Augusta, said deer love to eat leafy vegetation, such as hosta, and offered low-cost, reliable solutions.

“I have found that using human hair wrapped in cheese cloth and tied around my gardens has helped deter deer,” she said.

She also suggested tying empty cans to fishing line and setting them on upside-down buckets around the garden. Attach the line to posts to make an invisible fence.

“When deer bump the line, the cans fall and scare them away,” she said. “I have had great success with this simple trick.”

Robin Jordan, owner of Robin’s Flower Pot in Farmington, said her customers have reported good results with Plantskyyd, a topical repellent.

Applied as a spray or as shake-able granules, the product deters deer, rabbits, voles, chipmunk, squirrels, and woodchucks, and is rain-resistant. Since it’s a certified organic product listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute, it can be used in vegetable gardens, on fruit trees and food crops.

Gabriel Pratt, owner of Pratt’s Family Greenhouse in Newport, said cleome has little thorns, which deer don’t like. “They also don’t like the smell of some herbs, like garlic,” he said.

He suggested gardeners could mix strongly scented herbs, including rosemary and chives, with some of the more vulnerable flowering plants.

Hillary Alger, a Flower Product Manager at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, said customers can find there all the seeds for deer-resistant annuals perennials, including lavender, foxglove, lupine, marigolds, yarrow, poppies, echinacea, ageratum and columbine.