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24 Deer-Resistant Garden Plants

By Staff Writer
Share to Pinterest24 Deer-Resistant Garden Plants
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At first, the view of deer peacefully grazing in your yard may be appealing. But homeowners and gardeners familiar with these hooved creatures know that they can quickly decimate the gardens you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. No plant is completely deer-proof, but you can discourage deer from feasting on your flower beds. In addition to options like motion-activated sprinklers and fences, planting deer-resistant shrubs and plants will help you keep your flora thriving.

01

Marigold

Allelopathy is a defense mechanism plants use to protect their space by releasing chemicals through their leaves. As a rule, deer avoid these types of plants. The gold, copper, or brass-colored marigold is an annual and a perfect border plant to deter deer from snacking on other less-resistant plants in your garden. They’re easy to grow, work in just about any type of soil, and thrive in hot, dry conditions. Remove dead flowers to encourage continued blooming.

Share to Pinterestflowers in the garden
elenaleonova / Getty Images

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02

Rosemary

If it enhances food flavor, chances are, deer won’t like it. Many of the herbs cooks use to season food are too aromatic for the sensitive nose of a deer. Try trailing varieties of rosemary as well as upright ones. Rosemary is hardy but requires a sandy, well-drained soil with full sun exposure and warmer growing zones. White, pink, purple, or blue flowers bloom in late spring or early summer.

To ensure your rosemary, and all herbs and plants, thrive and remain vibrant, even in low-light conditions, consider using a LORDEM Grow Light.

Share to PinterestYoung woman is cutting rosemary in her garden.
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03

Hellebore

This plant is one of the first to bloom, often before winter has officially ended. Plant experts also call this a Lenten rose. The flowers may be bi-colored or exhibit varying shades of cream or dusty rose with hints of green. The evergreen leaves last throughout the cold months. Plant in moisture-retentive soil with high organic matter for best results. Deer avoid this poisonous perennial. However, wildlife observers say starving deer may eat plants they normally would not eat.

Boost the health and vitality of your hellebore, a deer-resistant garden favorite, by feeding it with Organic Plant Magic.

Share to PinterestHelleborus
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04

Catmint

This hardy perennial herb plant erupts with clusters of lavender-blue flowers under full-sun conditions. Another easy-to-grow plant, catmint reaches a height and width of about three feet when mature. Catmint colors peak just as spring bulbs are finishing their showiness and just before summer perennials bloom. They grow fast in heavier clay soil. Deer dislike the smell, so gardeners use catmint as a deterrent to protect other types of plants that deer are fond of. If you have a feline companion, consider choosing a close catmint relative, Nepeta cataria, or catnip, which doubles as a deer deterrent.

Showcase your vibrant catmint, a deer-resistant gem, on an AUGOSTA 3 Tier Plant Stand, perfectly elevating your plants for optimal growth and visual appeal.

Share to PinterestNepeta cataria, catnip plant close up, used in herbal medicine, attracting cats as well
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05

Lily of the Valley

The tiny, bell-shaped flowers of the lily of the valley are not only sweetly aromatic, but they’ll also help keep hungry deer at bay. These plants thrive on moisture and partial shade, but they can adapt to sunnier, drier conditions, too, with some extra TLC. Gardeners from Alaska to eastern California and southern Oklahoma will discover distinct varieties of this durable, quick-spreading, and low-maintenance plant.

Share to PinterestLily of the valley in a flower pot. Close-up, selective focus, spring concept
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06

Peony

If your garden has access to full sun and well-drained soil, consider adding the beautifully fragrant peony to your garden. These perennials are highly deer resistant due to their strong scent. Peonies are slow to mature but long-lived. They bloom in colors ranging from pure white to deep red and every color in-between from late spring through early summer. You’ll find herbaceous varieties with soft green stems as well as tree varieties.

Share to PinterestPhoto of pink peony plants in bloom on a formal garden.
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07

Winterberry holly

Share to PinterestBeautiful ilex verticillata in sunny December

The glossy, deep green foliage and berries on the deciduous winterberry holly don’t appeal to deer, although birds are fond of the fruit. These plants have a vast geographical range, growing in moist woods of Canada, down to the swamps in Florida, and west to Missouri. Winterberry holly is easy to grow and perfect for hedges and borders. In the colder months, when the foliage drops, the berries remain, adding a splash of red or gold color to your garden during the winter.

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08

Bee balm

If you love cut flowers, the bee balm is a great choice to add to your deer-resistant garden. These lovely perennials attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, but deer avoid them due to the mint-scented foliage. The blooms are open, similar to a daisy in shape, with shades of white, pink, purple, or red available. They grow best in moist, rich soil in sunny spots of your garden with good air circulation. Dwarf varieties grow to a height of about 10 inches, but others reach heights between two and four feet.

Share to PinterestGarden close up of pink bee balm in bloom, with blue thistle in the background
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09

Cosmos

Native to Mexico and warmer southern regions in the U.S., cosmos are self-seeding, deer-resistant annuals. They tolerate dry conditions and can grow to a height of six feet. The flowers vary widely, available in just about any color you can think of. Shorter varieties are perennials in warmer areas, including those with chocolate-brown blooms, a butterfly favorite. Horticulturists warn that while deer may avoid these plants in some areas, that doesn’t mean they are deer-resistant in all areas. In Oklahoma, deer seldom damage the plant, but in Georgia, gardeners may need to protect young buds, for example.

Share to PinterestBeautiful Sunrise Garden Scene with Pink and White Cosmos Flowers in foreground and bokeh/blurred greenhouse in background, sun dappled selective focus
Jennifer Blount / Getty Images

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10

Lamb’s ear

For centuries, people used lamb’s ear as a dressing for wounds, an edible, a wool dye, and as a treatment for colds. Lamb’s ear leaves are silvery-gray colored and fuzzy or green and smooth. Deer are not fans of the fuzzy-leaf varieties. Drought-tolerant and easy to grow, it loves full sun or partial shade. However, this plant is prone to disease in high-humidity regions. Spikes covered in tiny pale pink, lavender, or violet-colored flowers bloom in summer. Crush a few leaves for a pleasant, aromatic scent, which is similar to pineapple.

Share to PinterestStachys lanata (Stachys byzantina) in the garden
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11

Boxwood

Prized for its compact, dense growth and evergreen foliage, boxwood is a popular choice for hedges and borders. Deer tend to avoid this plant due to its pungent smell and bitter taste. Boxwood can thrive in various soil types and prefers partial to full sun. For optimal growth, keep the soil evenly moist and well-drained. Shape your boxwood into formal designs or let it grow more naturally.

Share to Pinterestpark with shrubs and green lawns, landscape design
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Lavender

Lavender, with its distinctive fragrance and beautiful purple blooms, is not only deer-resistant but also a magnet for bees and butterflies. This sun-loving perennial prefers well-drained soil and tolerates drought once it's established. Plant lavender in groups to create a stunning visual and aromatic impact in your garden.

Prune after flowering to encourage a compact shape and promote new growth.

Share to PinterestClose up of lavender with a bee enjoying fresh flowers. Photo taken in Provence, France.
Close up of lavender with a bee enjoying fresh flowers. Photo taken in Provence, France.

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Daffodil

These cheerful, early-spring blooming bulbs are not only a sign of the changing seasons but also a deterrent to deer. Due to the toxic alkaloids present in daffodils, deer keep their distance. Plant these bulbs in the fall for a burst of yellow, white, or even pink blossoms come springtime. Daffodils do well in well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade.

Allow their foliage to die back naturally to provide energy for next year's blooms.

Share to Pinterestyellow dafodill in the nature.
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Russian Sage

Featuring airy spires of lavender-blue flowers, Russian sage is a deer-resistant perennial that adds height and texture to your garden. This sun-loving plant prefers well-drained soil and is drought-tolerant once established.

Russian sage blooms from mid-summer to early fall, providing long-lasting color. Cut back plants in early spring to encourage new growth and maintain an attractive shape.

Share to PinterestSage in the Botanical garden, summer
Anna Oleinik / Getty Images

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Yarrow

With its fern-like foliage and flat clusters of flowers, yarrow adds both texture and color to your deer-resistant garden. This drought-tolerant perennial prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Yarrow blooms in shades of yellow, white, pink, and red, making it a versatile addition to any garden design.

Cut back the plants after flowering to encourage new growth and maintain a tidy appearance.

Share to PinterestAchillea millefolium common yarrow white flowers with green
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Iris

The elegant, sword-like foliage and intricate blooms of the iris make it a garden favorite. Deer typically avoid these perennials due to their slightly bitter taste. Irises thrive in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

Plant the rhizomes in late summer or early fall for a stunning display of color in spring or early summer. Divide and replant every few years to prevent overcrowding.

Share to PinterestJapanese irises in early summer
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Bleeding Heart

Known for its unique, heart-shaped flowers that dangle from arching stems, bleeding heart is a deer-resistant addition to shady garden areas. This woodland perennial prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. The blooms, ranging from pink to white, make a statement in the garden from late spring to early summer.

After flowering, the foliage may die back, but the plant will return the following year.

Share to PinterestHummingbird Feeding at Bleeding Heart Bloom
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Barberry

Barberry shrubs provide year-round interest with their vibrant foliage, small flowers, and bright berries. Deer steer clear of these plants due to their sharp thorns and bitter taste. Barberry prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil.

Available in various colors and sizes, this versatile shrub can be used as a hedge, foundation planting, or accent piece in the landscape. Prune your plants regularly to maintain the desired shape and size.

Share to PinterestRed barberry berries on the tree
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Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bush, with its long, arching branches and fragrant cone-shaped flowers, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden while keeping deer at bay. This sun-loving shrub prefers well-drained soil and is relatively low-maintenance. Blooms appear in shades of purple, pink, white, and even yellow from mid-summer to early fall.

Prune your bushes back in late winter or early spring to encourage new growth and maintain a compact shape.

Share to PinterestButterflies on Buddleia
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20

Floss Flower

Share to PinterestAgeratum houstonianum ( Floss flower ) flowers. Asteraceae evergreen tropical plants native to Mexico. Flowering season is from May to October.

The floss flower, with its vibrant clusters of lavender-blue flowers, offers more than just a pretty sight. Its rough-textured foliage acts as a natural deterrent to deer, making it a perfect addition to the edges of your garden. Thriving under full sun to partial shade, the floss flower blooms from late spring through fall, creating a long-lasting display of color and texture that deer prefer to avoid. Its low maintenance and drought resistance make it an ideal choice for gardeners looking to minimize care while maximizing beauty.

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21

Signet Marigold

Share to PinterestTagetes Tenuifolia or Signet Marigold in Tangerine Gem

Signet marigold distinguishes itself with a lighter, almost citrusy aroma compared to its marigold cousins. This annual plant turns heads not just with its scent but also with its vibrant colors ranging from yellow to orange. Deer tend to bypass signet marigolds, making them excellent border plants that protect more vulnerable species in your garden. Plant them in full sun and watch as they bloom from late spring until the first frost, offering a season-long spectacle that's as deer-resistant as it is delightful.

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22

Verbena

Share to PinterestVerbena bonariensis flowers (Argentinian Vervain or Purpletop Vervain, Clustertop Vervain, Tall Verbena, Pretty Verbena) in garden

Verbena is a standout for its versatility and long blooming season, attracting pollinators with its clusters of flowers in hues of white, pink, blue, lavender, and purple. What makes it even more valuable to gardeners is deer's disinterest in its fragrant foliage. Plant verbena in full sun and well-drained soil to enjoy its colorful display from spring until frost. Its drought tolerance, once established, makes it a fuss-free addition to any sunny spot in your garden.

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23

Snapdragon

Share to PinterestSpringtime variety of beautiful Antirrhinum majus or Snapdragon flowers in pink, red, white and yellow colors in the greek garden shop.

Snapdragons bring a touch of drama to the garden with their striking spikes of flowers, available in a rainbow of colors. These annuals bloom profusely in cooler weather, making them a perfect choice for early spring and fall. Their unique shape and texture make them less appealing to deer, allowing them to flourish and add height and color to your garden beds without fear of being devoured. Full sun and well-drained soil will ensure your snapdragons thrive.

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24

Cinquefoil

Share to PinterestFlowering finger shrub, potentilla fruticosa

Cinquefoil, or Potentilla, is a resilient shrub that offers delightful blooms from early summer to fall. Its finely textured foliage and bright flowers in shades of yellow, white, and pink make it an attractive choice for any garden. Deer tend to pass by cinquefoil, allowing it to grow and spread without hindrance. Plant in full sun to partial shade and enjoy its durable and long-lasting charm in your landscape.

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