Deer Resistant Plants

Deer inhabit almost every part of the American continent. They are adaptable and may change their feeding preferences over time. During times of hunger, deer will eat almost any plant to survive. Following is a list of plants that are usually deer, and rabbit, resistant.


Sword Fern

Alyssum Alyssum
Calendula Calendula offininalis
Dusty Miller Senecio cineriaria
Floss Flower Ageratum houstonianum
Lemon grass Cymbopogon citratus
Licorice Plant Helichrysum petiolare
Marigold Tagetes tenuifolia
Pincushion Flower Scabiosa atropurpurea
Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus
Verbena Verbena x hybrid
Zinnia Zinnia



Allium Allium spp.
Astilbe Astilbe spp.
Bachelor’s Button Centaurea cineraria
Basil Ocimum basilicum
Barrenwort Epimedium grandiflorum
Bellflower Campanula spp.
Bergenia Bergenia spp.
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta
Bleeding Heart Dicentra spectabilis
Black Snakeroot Actaea racemosa
Blue False Indigo Baptisia australis
Calla lily Zantedeschia spp.
Catmint Nepeta spp.
Columbine Aquilegia spp.
Cushion spurge Euporbia polychrome

Black Eyed Susan

Daffodil Narcissus spp.
Delphinium Delphinium spp.
Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpioides
Foxglove Digitalis spp.
Geranium Geranium spp.
Iris Iris spp.
Japanese Spurge Pachysandra terminalis
Lady’s mantle Alchemilla mollis
Lamb’s Ear Stachys byzantina
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia
Lily of the Nile Agapanthus
Lenten rose Helleborus orientalis
Lupine Lupinus Spp.
Mint Mentha spp.
Monkshood Aconitum carmichaelii
New Zealand flax Phormium tenax

New Zealand Flax

Oregano Origanum vulgare
Oxalis Oxalis spp.
Peony Paeonia spp.
Poppy Papaver spp.
Rose campion Lychnis coronaria
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
Russian sage Perovskia atriplicifolia
Sage Salvia officinalis
Saint John’s wort Hypericum spp.
Siberian bugloss Brunnera macrophylla
Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis
Summer snowflake Leucojum aestivum
Thyme Thymus vulgaris
Yarrow Achillea millefolium



Abelia Abelia grandiflora
Barberry Berberis spp.
Beautyberry Cqllicarpa spp.
Bluebeard Caryopteris x clandonensis
Boxwood Buxus spp.
Bush cinquefoil Potentilla fruticosa
Butterfly bush Buddleia spp.
California lilac Ceanothus spp.
Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp.
Currant Ribes spp.
Daphne Daphne spp.
English lavender Lavandula angustifolia
Enkianthus Enkianthus campanulatus
Euonymous Euonymous spp.
Forsythia Forsythia spp.

Oregon Grape

Heather Calluna vulgaris
Heath Erica carnea
Heavenly bamboo Nandina domestica
Holly Ilex spp.
Japanese Kerria Kerria japonica
Juniper Juniperus spp.
Lilac Syringa spp.
Mexican orange Choisya ternate
Mock orange Philadelphus spp.
Mountain laurel Kalmia latifolia
Oregon grape Mahonia spp.
Pacific wax myrtle Myrica californica
Pieris Pieris japonica
Rhododendron Rhododendron spp.
Rock rose Cistus spp.
Salal Gaultheria shallon
Smoke bush Cotinus coggygria


Spirea Spiraea japonica
Russian cypress Microbiota decussate
Viburnum Viburnum spp.
Weigela Weigela florida
Wisteria Wisteria spp.
Yucca Yucca spp.

Ferns and Grasses
Dryopteris erythrosora Autumn fern
Sword fern Polystichum munitum
Cinnamon fern Osmunda cinnamomea
Japanese painted fern Athyrium niponicum


Ostrich fern Matteuccia strutiopteris
Bamboo Several genera
Fescue Festuca spp.
Fountain grass Pennisetum alopecuroides

Japanese forest grass Hakonechloa macra
Japanese silver grass Miscanthus sinensis
Japanese sweet flag Acorus gramineus
Sedge Carex morrowii
Switch grass Panicum virgatum

Identify the culprit.
This can be done by finding tracks, scat or watching the animals themselves. After deer feed they leave a torn, jagged edge on plants. This can occur from ground level up to 6 or 7 feet. If you find a neatly clipped stem or leaf, it’s not from a deer.

Plants deer love. Besides the list of deer resistant plants, it’s good to know which ones they consider a special treat: Azalea, Arborvitae, Apple, Blueberry, Burning Bush, Cherry, Clematis, Coleus, Cosmos, Daylily, English Ivy, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Lily, Magnolia, Mountain Ash, Rose, Maple, Peach, Plum, Rhododendron, Chrysanthemum, Geum, Hosta, Tulip, Trillium, Phlox, Pansy, Petunia, Sweet Potato Vine, Yew, Zonal Geranium and veggies.

Deer repellant plants. Deer will avoid plants that are highly fragrant, have poisonous compounds, have fuzzy or aromatic leaves and tough, spiny or bristly textures. Here are a few: Catmint, Chives, Foxglove, Sage, Society Garlic, Spearmint, Thyme and Yarrow.

Strategies to deter deer: Substitute undesirable plants for delicious (for example rugosa roses instead of hybrid tea roses), make the entryway to the garden unattractive to deer (use plants with strong scents), mix confusing combinations (daylilies and garlic), camouflage or block the view of susceptible plants, eliminate unnecessary cover (tall grass and brush), clean up fallen fruit and xeriscaping. Some deterrents include soap, hair, rotten eggs, fabric softener sheets, blood meal, predator urine, hot pepper sprays, moving objects (white flags) timed lighting or sprinklers, noises, fencing (at least 8 feet) and dogs. Deer are adaptable and will learn. For the most success, change, rotate or overlap different strategies before deer become accustomed to your plan.

Rotten Egg Recipe: 2 eggs, 2 cups water, 1-4 cloves garlic, (optional 2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce). Blend, ferment for two days, apply on soil and plants to discourage deer.

Resources: Deer Proofing Your Yard and Garden by Rhonda Messingham Hart, 1997

50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants by Ruth Rogers Clausen, 2011. Creating a Deer Proof Garden by Peter Derano, 2007

4 thoughts on “Deer Resistant Plants

  1. Luckily the deer don’t come into our garden… we have a high fence AND dogs! But they appear to like a spot behind our garden under the elder trees!

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