Deer Resistant Landscaping

Deer-Resistant Vs. Deer-Proof

Deer have their dining preferences.

They prefer bland tasting, non-toxic and non-odorous plant material. Whether or not your plant is eaten can also depend on factors external to the plants such as natural area food sources, weather, and numbers of deer. No plant is deer-proof; however, there are a number of factors that allow non-preferred plants to get eaten. These include succulent new growth (may make the plant more palatable than usual); easy availability (why walk by a free lunch?); and familiarity (develop a taste for it after minimal nibbles over two or three years). Something "resistant" may get browsed each year, but usually not devastated. The next year, a different plant may be browsed. Many plants recover and bloom the following year. Listed are a few suggestions.

Plants to Use

Achillea - Yarrow

Aromatic leaves protect big, flat flower clusters from hungry deer. Yarrow loves full sun and blooms most of the summer. Not fussy about soil. Several plants fill into a nice mass in just a few years.

Aconitum - Monkshood

Long, recemes of flowers from late summer into fall, spectacular height for the middle to back of the garden and eye-catching color in the shade garden or on the table as cut flowers.

Ajuga - Bugleweed

Colorful foliage adds visual interest all season. Useful as ground cover with flower spikes as a bonus.

Alchemilla - Lady's Mantle

Useful accent for edging even in partially shaded areas, with bounteous chartreuse flowers in June. Water droplets stay on the hexagonal leaves long into the day for an eye-catching, jeweled appearance.

Allium - Ornamental Chives

Globe-shaped flowers with gravity-defying structure. Even though they remain under a foot tall, they catch your eye. Foliage has enough onion smell to keep deer at bay.

Antirrhinum - Snapdragon

A kids' favorite - plant them once and enjoy for years.

Arabis - Rock Cress

Part of the wild mustard family that generally is too tangy for the deer palate. Valued for its small flowers and low-growing habit in rock gardens, in containers, and as edging, Arabis blooms from April to June.

Artemisia - Wormwood

The foliage not only saves this easy-to-grow perennial from the deer (it's aromatic) but provides a great garden contrast with its silver or gray-white coloring. Fast spreading.

Astilbe - Astilbe

Clumps of fern-like foliage topped with spires of bright color make this a favorite for the shade garden.

Aubrieta - Purple Rock Cress

Low, spreading mounds, perfect for rock gardens, path edging or borders.

Aurinna - Basket of Gold

Popular edging or rock garden plant.

Calamintha - Calamint

Aromatic foliage provides maintenance-free resistance to deer. Easy to grow.

Convallaria - Lily of the Valley

Old-fashioned garden favorite is great as a ground cover or for naturalizing. Spreads readily and can become invasive over time.

Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts

Grows easily. Sprouts in early spring.

Digitalis - Foxgloves

Long-blooming plant that is toxic if eaten. Favored for its height and long bloom time.

Echinacea - Coneflower

Long, long bloom period, easy to grow in ordinary soil and deer ignore it.

Echinops - Globe Thistle

Unusual globe-shaped flowers stand out in midsummer.


Shade lovers with airy spikes of foliage.

Galium - Sweet Woodruff

Nice woodland ground cover.

Geranium - Hardy, Scented Geranium, Cranesbill

Spread slowly to form long-blooming mats of color.

Grasses - Ornamental Grasses

Very natural, dramatic texture that also provide winter interest.

Gypsophilia - Baby's Breath

Adds a delicate, billowing texture to any garden.

Iris - Siberian Iris

Beautiful, grassy foliage makes a good contrast in any garden. Drought resistant.

Lamium - Dead Nettles

Colorful leaves, popular ground cover.

Lychnis - Campion

Fuzzy leaves send deer browsing elsewhere. Self seeds freely.

Mentha - Mint

Definitely too smelly for the deer, but you'll love it.

Myrica - Northern Bayberry

Semi-evergreen shrub with glossy, aromatic foliage and waxy blue-gray berries.

Monarda - Bee Balm

Hummingbirds will fight each other for the air rights over your Monarda. Very aromatic foliage that spread rapidly.

Nepeta - Catnip

You'll enjoy the delightful fragrance.

Phlox Subulata - Moss Pinks

The evergreen, needlelike foliage and spring bloom time add visual interest to your garden during the winter and early spring.

Picea - Spruce

This evergreen has stiff needles and a bad flavor for protection.

Potentilla - Cinquefoil

Summer-long flowering quality that thrives in almost any soil.

Rheum - Ornamental Rhubarb

Cooks and deer know that rhubarb leaves are poisonous.

Rhus - Sumac

Low-spreading ground cover with glossy green foliage and superb orange-red fall color.

Salvia - Meadow Sage

Another fresh-smelling plant that deer cannot stand. Midsummer spikes of colorful blooms year after year.

Sempervivum - Hens & Chicks

Drought-tolerant, evergreen rosettes in exciting colors.

Solidago - Goldenrod

Fall color in the deer-resistant garden is in short supply so Solidago is a must.

Spiraea Joponica - Spiraea

Easy to grow and tolerant of average soils. Ample flowers that provide medium-height interest in deep gardens.

Stachys - Lamb's Ear

Fuzzy leaves protect this easy-to-grow foliage plant from deer. Excellent for edging and ground cover.

Symphytum - Comfrey

Multiple ivory-yellow bells borne over rich green foliage in spring.

Tanacetum - Tancy

Aromatic varieties contain volatile oils or insecticidal compounds that may cause unpleasant reactions if handled or consumed in excess.

Thymus - Thyme

Foliage, flowers, and fragrance. Use for edging walks.

Yucca - Adam's Needle

This evergreen becomes the focal point in your garden twice a year - once when the rest of the garden has died back for winter and again in early summer when it sends up showy stalks of white flowers.