Deer-Resistant Plants

March 6, 2017

 

If there's one thing we have in common as gardeners, it's the need to ward off unwelcome wildlife. For many, that means deer. If the best defense is a good offense, then it makes sense to start by choosing deer resistant plants.

 

Plants Deer Like to Eat

  • Deer love narrow-leaf evergreens, especially arborvitae and fir, and show a preference for hostas, daylilies, and English ivy.

  • The heaviest garden browsing is from October through February.

  • Many growers note that deer seem to prefer plants that have been fertilized.

 

Plants Deer Do Not Like to Eat (Usually)

  • Bear in mind that the first rule of deer-proofing is that there are really no plants that are completely deer-proof. Nevertheless, here are plants that deer (usually) do not like to eat:

    • Deer tend to stay away from poisonous plants. Daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies are common flowers that have a toxicity that deer avoid.

    • Deer turn their noses up at fragrant plants with strong scents. Herbs such as sages, ornamental salvias, lavenders, peonies, and bearded irises are among these “stinky” plants.

    • Deer do not like plants that are prickly (unless they’re desperate), such as lamb’s ear.

    • Bleeding hearts are popular with us, but not deer.

Trees

  • Bald Cypress

  • Cherry Laurel

  • Crape Myrtle

  • Deodar Cedar

  • False Cypress (Chamaecyparis)

  • Fir

  • Ginkgo

  • Leyland Cypress

  • Pines

  • Red Maple

  • River Birch

  • Southern Magnolia

  • Spruce

  • Sweetgum

Shrubs

  • Barberry

  • Boxwood

  • Butterfly Bush

  • Daphne

  • Heather

  • Most Hollies

  • Juniper

  • Lantana

  • Leucothoe

  • Mimosa

  • Mountain Laurel

  • Oleander

  • Pieris

  • Rugosa rose

  • Scotch Broom

  • Spirea

  • Spruce

  • St. John’s Wort

  • Viburnum

  • Vitex

  • Wisteria

  • Witch Hazel

  • Yucca

Bulbs and Herbaceous Plants

  • Allium (Ornamental onion)

  • Artemesia

  • Camassia

  • Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow)

  • Colchicum (Autumn crocus)

  • Daffodil

  • Fritillaria

  • Geranium

  • Hellebore

  • Hyacinth

  • Leucojum

  • Lungwort

  • Marigold

  • Monkshood

  • Muscari (grape hyacinth)

  • Myrtle

  • Narcissus

  • Ornithogalum

  • Oxalis

  • Petunia

  • Purple Coneflower

  • Scilla

  • Snapdragon

  • Snowdrop

  • Society garlic

  • Bluebells

  • Yarrow

Woody and Herbaceous Plants PREFERRED by Deer
(Avoid planting these unless you protect them.)

  • Arborvitae

  • Asiatic Lilies

  • Aucuba

  • Burning bush

  • Camellia

  • Candytuft

  • Crabapple

  • Crocus

  • Daylilies (flowers preferred)

  • English Ivy

  • Fatsia

  • Flowering almond

  • Grape Hyacinth

  • Hemlock

  • Hibiscus

  • Hosta

  • Hydrangea

  • Impatiens

  • Indian Hawthorn

  • Lady slipper orchid

  • Mountain Ash

  • Pansy

  • Phlox

  • Rose

  • Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)

  • Sedum ‘AutumnJoy’

  • Staghorn sumac

  • Sunflower

  • Tulip

  • Viola

  • White Cedar

  • White pine

  • Wintergreen

  • Yew

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