Oh deer! There’s nothing worse than walking out into your garden, only to find that Bambi and family have devoured your favorite plants overnight. Sure you could install a nine foot fence and repeatedly apply so called repellents, but my suggestion is to plant things that deer prefer not to eat. Read on for the top 10 best deer resistant plants for your landscape …
You can still have a lush, lovely garden by making smart choices. Many splendid plants are unpalatable to deer because of their poisonous compounds, fragrant or fuzzy leaves, and tough, spiny, or bristly textures.
Let’s be frank, there are no absolutely deer-proof plants. If food is scarce enough, deer have been known to eat almost anything. But, by planting these deer-resistant plant types listed below, deer will typically take a pass on your garden in favor of a tastier buffet down the street.
Top 10 Best Deer Resistant Plants
1.) Russian Sage (Perovskia) – the richly aromatic foliage of this perennial is a turn off to deer. The airy spikes of lavender-blue flowers and silver foliage make a strong garden accent. Easy to grow and adaptable to dry sites. I love pairing it with yellow and pink flowering perennials (try Coreopsis and Veronicas) for a show-stopping display of color all season long! Also a good pollinator-attracting plant.
2.) Bee Balm (Monarda) – these colorful perennials attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds with their vibrant blossoms each summer. Deer steer clear once they catch a whiff of the minty-scented foliage. Best in full sun to part shade. The leaves are often used for tea. Monarda come in a gorgeous palate of hues including pink, red, magenta, purple and lavender.
3.) Foxgloves (Digitalis) – a traditional cottage garden favorite, foxgloves have beautiful large, tubular, bell-like flowers on long stems. They are poisonous if eaten and deer seem to sense this and avoid the plants. Perfect in the back of the garden due to their height. Blooms in June & July and is good cut flower for arrangements.
4.) Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina) – these popular ground cover plants are grown more for the texture and color of their leaves than for their flowers. The plant’s texture can best be described as “fuzzy” or “velvety” which is a real “no go” for the deer population. Upon seeing the foliage, you are tempted to reach out and stroke it. Grows in mounds with attractive silver foliage.
5.) Catmint (Nepeta) – beneficial insects are drawn to the minty fragrant foliage. Deer take a pass on this plant. Catmints are known for their pretty flowers, attractive leaves, and carefree nature. Blooms blue or lavender in May / June and intermittently reblooms. Prefers full sun or part shade and is drought tolerant.
6.) Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) – this member of the sunflower family is disliked by deer, the “black eye” is named for the dark, brown-purple centers of its daisy-like flower heads. These beloved and hardy plants bloom from June to October. They can be counted on to provide bold splashes of color with their vivid yellow, golden or rust colored flowers.
7.) Poppy (Papaver orientale) – Oriental Poppies provide huge, spectacular spring flowers that few plants can match. Perennial poppies are long-lived and low-care plants best suited to gardens in cooler climates. The exotic, cup-shaped blooms take your breath away. The strong, finely dissected leaves go dormant after bloom time and then reappear in late summer. Flowers come in traditional red, bright orange, and brilliant white.
8.) Foamflower (Tiarella) – looking for a deer resistant plant for your shade garden? You can’t go wrong with foamflowers! They are easy to grow in partial to full shade. These beauties provide an early season pollen source for bees in spring, and they aren’t bothered by deer. Probably because of their low-growing, slightly hairy foliage. Blooms pink or white in April – June for a breathtaking groundcover.
9.) Ornamental Onion (Allium) – this family of plants is easy to grow and good looking throughout the season. Insect pests, rabbits, and deer don’t bother them. The first variety I was exposed to was ‘Globemaster’ known for its huge, large purple globes of flowers that can reach 10 inches in diameter! Alliums come in several sizes and flower colors including pink, purple, blue and white. A good pollinator plant.
10.) Lantana – one of my all-time favorite annuals … a hummingbird and butterfly magnet, is not liked by deer. Most likely due to the unique scent and seeds / berries that are poisonous. The brilliant flower colors borne in dense clusters look excellent in beds or container gardens. Lantana likes to be grown on the dry side. Check out the ‘Bandana’ series with large flowers that change colors as they mature.
Deer Delicacies – Avoid Planting These!
If your yard backs up to a forest preserve or green space populated by deer, then avoid planting the following plants as deer seem to find them quite tasty and hard to resist:
- Hybrid Tea Roses
- English Ivy
- American arborvitae
Best Deer Resistant Plants Summary
Yes, you can still have a beautiful, thriving garden with deer visitors by making smart plant selections. Make sure to choose the plants deer tend to avoid due to fragrance, poisonous nature, or fuzzy and spiny textures. Let my top 10 best deer resistant plants be your guide.
Also, try not to plant the “deer candy plants” mentioned above … they make a beeline for these at meal time. Note that even “resistant” varieties can be vulnerable in the first few weeks after planting, when their leaf tissue is especially nitrogen-rich.
If you have major deer problems, it’s recommended to spray new plants with a deer-repellent for 3 to 4 weeks after planting to prevent them from being nibbled on and damaged. Even if they are feasted on, as long as the root systems of the plants are not damaged, the plants should survive.Are you dealing with rabbit issues in your yard? Bunnies munching on your petunias? Discover the best ways to protect your posies by clicking here … Be sure to let us know if you found our list of Top 10 best deer resistant plants useful! If you’re looking for ways to attract helpful critters to your garden, head on over to our series of posts about beneficial bugs …