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Deer-resistant plants

By: Garden Gate staff
Struggling with deer eating every plant in your garden? Try this list of deer-resistant plants for your garden including annuals, perennials, trees & shrubs!

Add these deer-resistant plants to your garden

Deer-proof plants? Sorry, there’s no such thing — hungry deer will eat almost anything. But, there are plants they usually avoid and are considered deer-resistant. However, much depends on how hungry the deer are and what other options they have to choose from. This list is a great place to start in your search for deer-resistant plants for your garden.

Deer are one of the most common problems a gardener can face. These appealing but pesky creatures find home-grown flowers and vegetables delicious…and they can devour hundreds of dollars-worth of plants in no time at all. Of course, unsightly fencing can work. But arming yourself with a shopping list of deer-resistant plants is a guaranteed way to put the fun back in nursery visits.

Deer-resistant plants usually have foliage with these characteristics:

  • Sticky
  • Prickly
  • Thorny
  • Hairy
  • Bleeds thick sap
  • Pungent scent

For years Rutgers University Cooperative Extension has been testing and rating plants on how palatable they are to deer. Check out our short list of plants below that deer usually avoid including annuals, perennials, biennials, shrubs and trees. You can see the complete list of results from Rutgers here.


Deer-resistant annuals

Common name Botanical name
Ageratum Ageratum spp.
Bells of Ireland Moluccella laevis
Flowering tobacco Nicotiana sylvestris
Larkspur Delphinium spp.
Lobelia Lobelia spp.
Marigold Tagetes spp.
Orange coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida
Pot marigold Calendula officinalis
Purple fountain grass Pennisetum setaceum
Salvia Salvia spp.
Sweet alyssum Lobularia maritima
Zinnia Zinnia spp.

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Deer-resistant biennials

Common name Botanical name
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Lupine Lupinus spp.
Rose campion Lychnis coronaria
Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus

Deer-resistant perennials

Common name Botanical name
Astilbe  Astilbe spp.
Aster  Aster spp.
Baptisia  Baptisia spp.
Bee balm  Monarda spp.
Bergenia  Bergenia spp.
Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa
Black-eyed susan  Rudbeckia hirta
Blanket flower  Gaillardia spp.
Bleeding heart  Dicentra spectabilis
Bloody cranesbill  Geranium sanguineum
Bugbane  Actea spp.
Bugleweed  Ajuga spp.
Catmint  Nepeta x faassenii
Crinkle-leaf creeper  Rubus pentalobus
Epimedium  Epimedium spp.
Ferns n/a
Foam flower  Tiarella cordifolia
Forget-me-not  Myosotis spp.
Germander  Teucrium spp.
Goldenrod  Solidago spp.
Hellebore Helleborus spp. and hybrids
Iris  Iris spp.
Lamb’s ear  Stachys byzantina
Lamium  Lamium maculatum
Lavender Lavandula spp. and hybrids
Lungwort  Pulmonaria spp.
Monkshood  Aconitum spp.
Oriental poppy Papaver orientalis
Pachysandra  Pachysandra procumbens
Peony  Paeonia spp.
Russian sage  Perovskia atriplicifolia
Santolina  Santolina spp.
Speedwell  Veronica spp.
Thyme  Thymus spp.
Speedwell  Veronica spp.
Tickseed  Coreopsis spp.
Windflower  Anemone spp.
Wormwood  Artemisia spp.
Yarrow  Achillea spp.

Deer-resistant bulbs

Common name Botanical name
Allium  Allium spp.
Calla lily Zantedeschia spp.
Daffodil  Narcissus spp.
Lily of the nile Agapanthus africanus
Windflower  Anemone spp.

Deer-resistant shrubs

Common name Botanical name
Barberry  Berberis spp.
Boxwood  Buxus spp.
Butterfly bush Buddleja spp. and hybrids
Caryopteris Caryopteris spp.
Deutzia  Deutzia gracilis
Forsythia  Forsythia spp.
Honeysuckle  Lonicera sempervirens
Lilac  Syringa vulgaris
Privet  Ligustrum spp.
Potentilla Potentilla fruticosa
Rhododendron  Rhododendron spp.
Red elder  Sambucus racemosa
Smoketree  Continus coggygria
Summersweet  Clethra spp.
Sweetspire  Itea virginica
Viburnum  Viburnum spp.

Deer-resistant trees

Common name Botanical name
Austrian pine  Pinus nigra
Birch  Betula spp.
Colorado blue spruce  Picea pungens
English hawthorn  Crataegus laevigata
Holly  Ilex spp.
Honeylocust  Gleditsia triacanthos
Japanese maple  Acer palmatum
Juniper  Juniperus spp.
Kousa dogwood  Cornus kousa
Magnolia  Magnolia spp.
Purple-leaf sand cherry  Prunus x cistena
Red pine  Pinus resinosa
Russian olive  Elaeagnus angustifoliasas
Safras  Sassafras albidum
Published: April 30, 2018
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