Deer resistant plants are a great option for those of us who have to deal with these destructive pests. If you’re looking for plants that deer won’t eat, then this post is for you! Below you’ll find a list of the best deer resistant annual flowers, shrubs, perennials, vegetables, and herbs to grow in your garden.
If you’ve ever discovered deer eating the plants in your garden, you know first hand just how destructive they can be. This drives many gardeners to go on a mission to find plants that deer hate, so they can stop the damage once and for all!
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a deer proof plant. Deer will graze on anything if they’re hungry enough, especially during the winter.
But don’t get discouraged! There are lots of different deer resistant plants they eat less often. Many times they’ll skip over these plants for more appetizing options.
Below I will give you tons of ideas for deer resistant plants, plus some tips for keeping these furry pests out of your garden. But first, let’s talk about some plants deer like to eat, so you know which ones to avoid.
Plants Deer Love To Eat
The first question most people have when they spot deer grazing near their garden is, “what plants do deer eat?“. So I thought it would be a good idea to start with a list of plants that deer like to eat the most.
This is not an exhaustive list of course, but these are some of their favorites. So, if you have deer in your yard, then you’ll definitely want to avoid planting these, or take steps to protect them. Your list may be different depending on where you live.
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Asiatic lilies
Plants That Deer Do Not Like To Eat
Now that you know what deer like to eat, let’s talk about the plants they don’t favor. I hope you’re not feeling discouraged, because there are plenty of plants to choose from in the lists below.
There is no way I could even attempt to list every single deer resistant plant there is though. So, to make it easy to go shopping, you should understand all of the traits that make plants resistant to deer.
What Makes Plants Resistant To Deer?
In general, deer don’t like eating plants that have a strong odor or flavor. They also tend to avoid plants that are prickly or furry, ones that are toxic to them, and those they can’t get to.
So look for these traits when you’re shopping for the best deer resistant plants and flowers…
- Look for plants that repel deer – Since there are lots of smells deer don’t like, they tend to avoid plants that have a strong odor. Many times these types of plants can even work to repel deer from your garden. So look for highly fragrant plants like onions, garlic, fennel, peonies, tansy, yarrow, and Russian sage, for example.
- Buy plants deer don’t like to eat – In addition to odors, they also don’t like eating plants that have a strong flavor. Some good examples are herbs like cilantro, lavender, mint, rosemary, basil, and oregano. This wildflower mix contains several plants that deer don’t like the taste of.
- Select plants rarely eaten deer – Deer don’t like plants that have unappealing textures, like furry leaves or prickly stems. Squash, cacti, lambs ear, barberry, yucca, and artichoke are a few examples of plants deer dislike because of their texture.
- Choose plants that are poisonous to deer – Some plants are toxic to deer, so they will usually stay way from eating them. Anything in the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant…etc), and rhubarb are examples of plants deer avoid because of their toxicity.
- Grow plants deer can’t eat – Obviously if the deer can’t get to a plant, then they won’t be able to eat it. This is true of vegetables that grow underground, like beets, radishes, carrots, and other root crops. However deer sometimes do like to graze on the tops of these plants, so you may need to protect them.
List Of Deer Resistant Plants
Below I have organized my list of the top deer resistant plants into four groups: perennials and shrubs, annuals, vegetables, and herbs. This should make it easy for you to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Deer Resistant Shrubs & Perennials
- Bleeding hearts
- Silver mound
- Bee balm
- Shasta daisy
- Black eyed Susan
- Bearded iris
- Russian sage
- Lambs ear
- Prickly pear cactus
Deer Resistant Annuals
- Dusty miller
- Sweet alyssum
- Straw flower
- Bachelor buttons
- Spider flower
- Flowering Tobacco
Deer Resistant Vegetables
Deer Resistant Herbs
- Garlic chives
- Lemon balm
If you’re looking for even more ideas, then I recommend the book “50 Beautiful Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat“. It’s a great reference, with tips for deer resistant garden design, and of course a list of plants.
Tips To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden
Using deer resistant plants is the best first step to prevent major damage to your garden. But, that’s not necessarily going to be the end of your problem.
Deer are persistent, especially once they get comfortable in your yard. And the longer they’ve been around, the harder it’s going to be to keep them from coming back.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to prevent them from destroying your garden. Here are a few tips to keep deer away from plants…
- Use deer spray repellent – Using natural deer repellent spray works pretty well, as long as you’re diligent. Spray it directly on the plants to prevent deer from eating them, and reapply often. If you’re unsure of which kind is the best to use, Bobbex, Plantskydd, and Liquid Fence are all great organic brands.
- Create a protective perimeter – Line the perimeter of your garden with deer resistant plants to create a barrier around the ones they love to eat. This will make your garden less inviting to them, and it works for protecting both flowers and vegetables.
- Use plants to repel deer – Intermixing natural deer repellent plants strategically into your garden is another great way to keep them out. Not only does this make your garden less tempting, strong smelling plants can also mask the scent of the more appealing ones.
- Cover sensitive plants – Using a physical barrier will make it harder for the deer to eat your plants. You can encircle vulnerable plants with chicken wire or use metal fencing. You could also try using floating row covers, or use deer netting to protect plants.
- Grow vegetables deer love vertically – If you find that deer are taking bites out of the fruits of vegetables like squash and cucumbers, then try growing them vertically. An a-frame, arch, or a lean-to style trellis are all excellent choices. The vegetables will hang down on the inside of the trellis, keeping them more protected, or hiding them from the deer.
Related Post: How To Protect Grapes From Birds & Bugs
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as deer proof plants, they will eat anything when they get really hungry! But there are many types of plants that they don’t eat as often. So fill your garden with deer resistant plants and shrubs to make your life a little easier.
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Share your favorite deer resistant plants, or tips for keeping deer out of your garden.