If you’re like me, then you enjoy spending time in your garden but often have to deal with the challenge of deer eating your plants. While there is no deer-proof plants, there are deer resistant flowers and shrubs that they are less likely to nibble on.
So if you’re looking for some plants that will resist being eaten by deer, read on for my top picks of deer resistant flowers and shrubs!
Again, I want to repeat, if hungry enough, deer may eat just about anything you try to grow but there are some varieties of flowers that they tend to pass over most of the time.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but this is what works in my garden….so far. At the end of this post, I share another thing I do that seems to help.
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Please Note: Even “resistant” types can be susceptible in the first few weeks after planting or germinating when their leaf tissue is extra rich in nitrogen.
If your garden is having a lot of deer browsing I would recommend spraying plants with a deer-repellent for 3 to 4 weeks after planting or germinating to prevent them from being nibbled on and damaged.
I live in a wooded area with plenty of deer. While lovely to look at they are a pest when you catch them eating your prized roses or other plants in your garden you wished to enjoy yourself.
That being said let’s review a few flowers I have found to be deer resistant in my garden.
Also, my landscape design or where I place these flowers can help to deter deer from eating their favorite nibbles that I wish to enjoy myself.
What makes a Plant Deer Resistant?
There are a few characteristics of plants that deer shy away from.
- Strong Scent: think mint, catmint, oregano, bearded iris (the scented ones)
- Fuzzy or spiky leaves: foxgloves, lambs ear, black eye susans (rudbeckia)
- Poisonous plants: daffodils, poppies, monkshood
Roses are an exception, the deer love the heavily perfumed roses as much as the ones with no scent. In fact, they make a beeline for my most fragrant rose bypassing other roses along the way.
Deer resistant Groundcovers
I grow a variety of Thyme as ground cover and the deer avoid it. Thyme is in the scented category that deer avoid as well as fuzzy when it comes to the Wooly Thyme.
- Lime Thyme
- Pink Chintz Thyme
- Wooly Thyme
- Lemon Thyme
- Elfin Thyme
- Red Creeping Thyme
Ground Covers to Grow
Ground cover plants are a wonderful way to bring in easy short plants to fill in between pavers, between plants, or along the edging. Many make a wonderful lawn substitute for drought-ridden areas!
Other Deer Resistant Ground Covers
- Corsican Mint
- Creeping Jenny
- Creeping Phlox
Deer Resistant Shrubs
There is a long list of deer-resistant shrubs and at the end of this post there is a link to a very good source of info on that. This list is what I have actually seen resist deer in this neighborhood.
Viburnums (I have a Snowball Viburnum and a Butterfly Bush next to the road by my house and they leave them alone)
Deer Resistant Flowers in My Garden
- Hardy Geraniums
- Sea Holly
Deer Resistant Perennials
- Aconitum or Monkshood
- Stachys (aka Hummingbird Mint)
- Alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle
- Helleborus (Lenten Rose)
- Black Mondo Grass
- Russian Sage
Deer Resistant Annuals
- Calendula (pot marigold)
- Sweet Alyssum
- Angels Trumpet
- Annual Vinca
- Forget Me Nots
Shade Plants that are Deer Resistant
- Cimicifuga (aka Snake Root)
- Wild Ginger
Deer Resistant Garden or Landscape Design
When designing an area that I know will have deer roaming close to it I don’t avoid plants they love to eat but I do plant resistant varieties between where the deer walk by and the more vulnerable plants.
For example, in my side garden beside the road, where the deer walk up and down, I have roses.
To discourage the deer from eating the roses, planted between the road and the roses, I have daisies, Black Eyed Susans, and Monarda along with various ground cover that the deer don’t care for.
On the opposite side of the roses, I have more of the deer-resistant plants so they surround the rose bush.
The deer don’t bother going beyond the plants they dislike to get to the roses.
How I found out this Works!
I discovered how well this worked when one season the daisies were all spent so I cut them back and the next day the roses they were in front of were eaten off.
So now I plant other later blooming deer-resistant plants along with the daisies that keep the deer at bay later in the season when the daisies need cleaning up.
Planting deer resistant plants of all sorts along the outside edge of your garden can go far in keeping the deer from devastating your garden.
Other techniques to deter deer
Other means are physical barriers aka fencing, the spray deterrents I mentioned previously and having a dog that alerts you to deer presence and/or will chase them off.
I have read that wind chimes in the garden can also startle deer, I have wind chimes along my porch eaves.
Motion can be an effective deterrent, I put up an old gauze curtain on an obelisk at night in an area and it would blow in the breeze.
Being white it would be visible in the dark of night and as it swayed it would scare the deer away.
Deer Resistant FAQs
I do notice that sometimes when the deer try to nibble a freshly planted plant and they find they don’t like it they still yank it from the soil and I find it laying on top of the ground.
In that case, I use my plant supports or cages, a wireframe or some other type of barrier until the newly planted flowers are more rooted and can withstand some tugging.
Using a variety of methods along with planting deer resistant flowers and shrubs will help you to grow a garden you can enjoy!
One more note:
I stumbled upon this a couple of years ago and it does seem to help though it may seem counterintuitive. I buy a bale of alfalfa hay and place it in the woods across the street for the deer to eat. They have left my garden alone since I started this.
I discovered this when we bought some alfalfa to feed my chickens with in summer when I cannot let them free range and it gives them a lot of greens to scratch and eat. The bale of alfalfa was stored on the driveway in front of my house.
Deer were eating it but no longer came into my garden, I could only think they got their fill with the alfalfa and didn’t want my flowers.
Now this is not scientific just an observance of what happened here and you would think putting the bale of alfalfa out would attract more deer but it has not seemed to do so.
Happy Deer Resistant Gardening!