100+ Deer Resistant Plants For Your Garden

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Updated November 11, 2021
Spotted fawn grazes in the front yard of a neighborhood house
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These plants are worth fawning over

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Deer have a reputation for being gentle, four-legged forest friends. But any gardener who has invested time and money into a new garden bed, only to find it devoured the next day, will paint you a less favorable picture of the local deer population. These herbivores have voracious appetites, and your garden beds are their buffet.  If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of deer-proof garden fences, and decided to go a more natural route, there are plenty of deer-resistant plants to keep them from munching away.

Deer Repellant Plants

The harsh truth is there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant. If deer are hungry enough they will eat just about any plant. The only way to truly protect your garden is by installing deer-proof fencing around the perimeter.

However, there are many plants, including shrubs, trees, grasses, and groundcovers, that are deer resistant. This means that deer do not like to eat these plants and will eat around them unless they have no other food source.

In general, deer tend to avoid plants that have:

  • Strong smells

  • Sap

  • Toxic or poisonous properties that make them sick

  • Odd textures such as tough, hairy, or prickly leaves

Deer-Resistant Perennials

Perennials are the backbone of every beautiful garden but it can be frustrating when they keep getting munched by deer. The following perennials repel deer better than their counterparts. Many of these perennials thrive in a variety of climate zones and produce showy flowers that attract pollinators, too. Some, like salvias, columbines, echinacea, and hellbores have dozens of species to choose from.

If you have children or pets, it’s also smart to check for plants on the list that can be toxic (such as Monkshood and certain species of Artemsia).

  • Artemisia

  • Aster

  • Bear’s breech (Acanthus mollis)

  • Beardtongue (Pentestemon)

  • Bee balm (Monarda didyma)

  • Bleeding heart (Dicentra)

  • Catmint (Nepeta)

  • Columbine (Aquilegia)

  • Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

  • Cransebill (Geranium)

  • False indigo (Baptisia australis)

  • False spirea (Astible)

  • Fleabane (Erigeron)

  • Fortnight lily (Dietes iridioides)

  • Foxglove (Digitalis)

  • Hellebores (Helleborus)

  • Jupiter’s beard, Red valerian (Centranthus ruber)

  • Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

  • Lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus)

  • Marguerite daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens)

  • Milkweed, Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

  • Monkshood (Aconite)

  • Sage (Salvia)

  • Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

  • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)

  • Western sword fern (Polystichum munitum)

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Bulbs & Tubers

Anyone who has watched their beautiful tulips become evening snacks knows how much deer love flowering bulbs. Short of keeping deer out of your yard, try these deer-resistant bulbs in your beds.

  • Autumn crocus (Colchicum)

  • Crocus

  • Crocosmia

  • Dahlias

  • Freesia

  • Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Deer-Resistant Shrubs

Quiet house on culdesac surrounded by woods
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Shrubs are perennial plants that come back year after year. Unlike the perennials listed above, shrubs are woodier, non-herbaceous, and rarely a deer’s first choice for food. They’re also larger in size, making them great hedges, street trees, and barriers.

  • Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia)

  • Barberry (Berberis)

  • Blue hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelil)

  • Bottlebrush (Callistemon)

  • Boxwood (Buxus)

  • Breath of heaven (Coleonema pulchellum)

  • Butterfly bush (Buddleia)

  • California lilac (Ceanothus)

  • Coastal rosemary (Westringa fruticosa)

  • Cotoneaster

  • Currant (Ribes)

  • Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)

  • Fire thorn (Pyracantha)

  • Flowering pomegranate (Punica granatum)

  • Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

  • Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

  • Hop bush (Dodonaea viscosa)

  • Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica)

  • Juniper (Juniperus)

  • Koriko (Corokia cotoneaster)

  • Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

  • Manzanita (Arctostyaphalus)

  • Meadowsweet (Spirea)

  • Purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma)

  • Rockrose (Cistus)

  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

  • Siberian carpet cypress (Microbiota decussata)

  • Snowberry (Symphoricarpos)

  • Sumac (Rhus)

  • Sweet box (Sarcococca)

  • Weigela

Deer-Resistant Ground Covers

If you are looking for healthy ground cover that won’t get devoured before it takes root, try one of these deer-proof plants.

  • ​​Aaron’s beard (Hypericum calycinum)

  • Barrenwort (Epimedium grandiflorum)

  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

  • Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens')

  • Carpet bugle (Ajuga)

  • Creeping lilyturf (Lirope spicata)

  • Creeping rosemary (Rosamarius horizontalis)

  • Dead nettle (Lamium)

  • Dwarf plumbago (Ceratostigma plumaginoides)

  • English ivy (Hedera helix)

  • Ground cover juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)

  • Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)

  • Periwinkle (Vinca)

  • Rockcress (Arabis)

  • Serbian bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana)

  • Siberian carpet cypress (Microbiota decussata)

  • Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)

  • Trailing African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum)

Deer Resistant Vines

For something that trails or climbs, try one of these deer-resistant vines, most of which are perennial, depending on where you live. Remember to cross-check all plants for your USDA plant hardiness zone and growing conditions so these climbers can really thrive.

  • Bouganvillea

  • Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis)

  • Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium seprvirum)

  • Jasmine (Jasminium)

  • Potato vine (Solanum taxum)

  • Wisteria

Deer Resistant Grasses

Grasses, especially natives and native hybrids, are low on a deer’s menu and provide texture to your garden beds.

  • Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora)

  • Fescue (Festuca)

  • Leafy reed grass (Calamagrostis foliosa)

  • Muhly (Muhlenbergia)

  • Needle grass (Stipa)

  • Rush (Juncus)

  • Sedges (Carex)

  • Silvergrass (Miscanthus)

  • Striped rush (Baumea ubiginosa 'Variegata')

  • Sweet flag (Acorus)

Deer-Resistant Annuals

While a few of these may be more perennial if you live in a mild climate, these annuals give your garden quick bursts of color and texture without much deer interference.

  • Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia)

  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum species)

  • Begonia (Begonia)

  • Black eyed susans (Rudbekia)

  • Caladiums (Caladium bicolor)

  • Canna lilies (Canna indica)

  • Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana)

  • Lantana (Lantana camara)

  • Love-in-a-mist (Nigella sativa)

  • Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum species)

  • Persian shield (Strobilanthes atropurpurea)

  • Sage (Salvia)

  • Snapdragons (Antirrhinum sp)

  • Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Deer Resistant Trees

Deer-resistant trees come in all varieties, including evergreen and deciduous. While trees naturally become more deer resistant as they grow, anyone who has planted a fresh sapling can attest that deer aren’t opposed to nibbling one down. The following are deer-resistant trees; however, if you are planting a young tree, it’s always a good idea to put a barrier around it to protect it from damage from deer, dogs, and people.

  • Acacia

  • Beech

  • Birch

  • Carob ceratonia siliqua

  • Cedar (Cedrus)

  • Douglas fir (Pseudostuga menziesii)

  • Fir (Abies)

  • Hackberry (Celtis)

  • Hakea (Hakea suaveolens)

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus)

  • Magnolia

  • Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba)

  • Maple (Acer)

  • Mayten (Maytenus boaria)

  • Mimosa (Albizia julibrisssin)

  • Oak (Quercus)

  • Olive (Olea europaea)

  • Pine (Pinus)

  • Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

  • Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

Planting a Deer-Resistant Garden

Whether you want to swap in a few plants from this list or overhaul your garden, planting a deer-resistant garden does not mean you have to sacrifice color, texture, or beauty. If the idea of re-doing your garden sounds enticing, but you’d like to leave it to a pro, find a local landscaper to get digging.

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