Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

250 Deer Resistant Plants

20150707BWhite-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are causing more and more damage to gardens, not only in the countryside, but increasingly also in the suburbs. And when a deer eats, it can empty a flowerbed or vegetable garden in just one evening, especially as it often comes with a group of friends.

There are several ways to deter deer – repellents such human hair or coyote urine, lure crops, motion-actived sound or spray devices, deer fencing, etc. – but it is also possible to grow plants that deer simply don’t like or at least, aren’t too attracted to.

This group includes :
• Poisonous plants or ones with milky sap;
• Plants with prickly stems and leaves;
• Plants with leaves that are very aromatic or have a strong taste;
• Plants with hairy leaves.

List of Deer-resistant Plants

The following list is not cast in stone. On one hand, deer have widely varying tastes from one region to the next and it is very possible that in some they learn to eat things they don’t eat elsewhere. Even more important, though, deer will eat almost anything when they are starving, as sometimes happens at the end of a very hard winter.

That said, if the bulk of your garden is planted with the following varieties, you’ll be creating a landscape that simply won’t interest deer… and that should ensure you an essentially deer-free garden experience!

  1. Aconite, winter (Eranthus spp.) hardy bulb, zone 4
  2. Alyssum, sweet (Lobularia maritima) annual
  3. Andromeda, Japanese (Pieris japonica) shrub, zone 5b
  4. Anemone (Anemone spp.) perennial or bulb, zone 3-6
  5. Anemone, rue (Anemonella thalictroides) perennial, zone 4
  6. Angelica tree (Aralia elata) shrub, zone 5
  7. Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) annual
  8. Anise (Pimpinella anisum) annual herb
  9. Ash (Fraxinus spp.) tree, zones 2b 7
  10. Asparagus (Asparagus spp.) hardy vegetable, perennial or climbing plant, zones 3-10 depending on the species
  11. Aster, Japanese (Kalimeris pinnatifida) perennial, zone 4
  12. Astilbe (Astilbe spp.) perennial, zone 4
  13. Balm, lemon (Melissa officinalis) herb, zone 3
  14. Baneberry (Actaea rubra and others) perennial, zone 2
  15. Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) shrub, zone 4
  16. Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis) perennial, zone 3
  17. Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica) shrub, zone 4b
  18. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) shrub, zone 2
  19. Beautybush (Kolkwitizia amabilis) shrub, zone 4
  20. Beech, American (Fagus grandifolia) tree, zone 4
  21. Beech, European (Fagus sylvatica) tree, zone 6
  22. Bergenia (Bergenia spp.) perennial, zone 3
  23. Betony (Stachys spp.) perennial, zones 3-8 depending on the species
  24. Birch, paper (Betula papyrifera) tree, zone 2
  25. Birch, river (Betula nigra) tree, zone 3
  26. Birch, weeping (Betula pendula) tree, zone 2
  27. Bittersweet (Celastrus spp.) climbing plant, zone 3
  28. Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) perennial, zone 3
  29. Bluebeard (Caryopteris spp) shrub, zones 5-8 depending on the species
  30. Bluebell (Hyacinthoides spp.) hardy bulb, zone 4
  31. Bluestar (Amsonia spp.) perennial, zone 4
  32. Bluestem, little (Schizachyrium scoparium) ornamental grass, zone 3
  33. Borage (Borago officinalis) annual herb
  34. Box, sweet (Sarcoccoca hookeriana) arbuste, zone 6
  35. Boxwood (Buxus spp.) shrub, zones 4-9
  36. Brugmansia (Brugmansia spp.) annual or shrub, zone 10
  37. Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) perennial, zone 3
  38. Buckeye, bottlebrush (Aesculus parviflora) shrub, zone 4
  39. Bugbane (Cimicifuga spp.) perennial, zone 4
  40. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) perennial, zone 3
  41. Bush, butterfly (Buddleia davidii) shrub, zone 6b
  42. Bush, smoke (Cotinus coggyria) shrub, zone 5b
  43. Buttercup (Ranunculus spp.) perennial, zones 2-8 depending on the species
  44. Cacti (various genera) perennial or shrub, zones 4-11 depending on the species
  45. Calamint (Calamintha spp.) perennial, zone 3
  46. Calla (Zantedeschia spp.) tender bulb
  47. Campion (Lychnis spp. and Silene spp.) perennial, zones 2-6 depending on the species
  48. Canna (Canna spp.) tender bulb, zone 8
  49. Castor bean (Ricinus communis) annual or tropical shrub, zone 10
  50. Catnip (Nepeta spp.) perennial, zone 4
  51. Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita) annual herb
  52. Chamomile, Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) medicinal herb, zone 5
  53. Chastetree (Vitex spp.) shrub or tree, zones 6-10 depending on the species
  54. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) herb, zone 2
  55. Cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.) perennial, zones 2-5 depending on the species
  56. Cinquefoil, shrubby (Potentilla fruticosa) shrub, zone 2
  57. Clematis (Clematis spp.) climbing plant, zones 2-9
  58. Cleome (Cleome spp.) annual
  59. Columbine (Aquilegia spp.) perennial, zone 3
  60. Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.) annual or perennial, zones 3-6 depending on the species
  61. Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) annual
  62. Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) shrub, zones 3-9 depending on the species
  63. Crocosmia (Crocosmia spp.) bulb, zones 4-8 depending on the species
  64. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) vegetable
  65. Culver’s root (Veronicastrum spp.) perennial, zone 3
  66. Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) perennial, zone 4
  67. Currants, gooseberry (Ribes spp.) small fruit, zone 3
  68. Daffodil or jonquil (Narcissus spp.) hardy bulb, zones 3-7 depending on the species
  69. Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) perennial, zone 4
  70. Daphne (Daphne spp.) shrub, zones 3-8 depending on the species
  71. Delphinium (Delphinium spp.) annual or perennial, zone 3
  72. Dogwood (Cornus spp.) shrub or tree, zone 3
  73. Dropseed, prairie (Sporobolus heterolepsis) grass, zone 4
  74. Dusty miller (Centaurea cineraria and Senecio bicolor) annual
  75. Ear, elephant (Alocasia spp., Colocasia spp. and Caladium spp.) tender bulb, zone 10
  76. Ear, lamb’s (Stachys byzantina) perennial, zone 4
  77. Elder, American (Sambucus canadensis) shrub, zone 3
  78. Elder, European red (Sambucus racemosa) shrub, zone 4b
  79. Elm (Ulmus spp.) tree, zones 2-5 depending on the species
  80. Enkianthus (Enkianthus spp.) shrub, zones 5b-9 depending on the species
  81. Epimedium (Epimedium spp.) perennial, zone 3
  82. Euonymus (Euonymus spp.) climbing plant or shrub, zones 4-7
  83. Euphorbia (Euphorbia spp.) annual or perennial, zones 3-10 depending on the species
  84. Everlasting (Xerochrysum bracteatum) annual
  85. Everlasting, perennial (Anaphalis margaritacea) perennial, zone 3
  86. Fargesia (Fargesia spp.) Bamboo zone 4
  87. Ferns (most species) zones 1-10 depending on the species
  88. Fescue, blue (Festuca glauca) ornamental grass, zone 4
  89. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) perennial, zone 3
  90. Flag (Iris spp.) perennial, zones 3-8 depending on the species
  91. Flag, sweet (Acorus spp.) ornamental grass, zones 3-5 depending on the species
  92. Flossflower (Ageratum houstonianum) annual
  93. Foamflower (Tiarella spp.) perennial, zone 3
  94. Forget-me-not (Myosotis spp.) biennial or perennial, zones 3-4 depending on the species
  95. Forsythia (Forsythia spp.) shrub, zones 4-7 depending on the species
  96. Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) perennial or biennial, zone 4
  97. Fritillary (Fritillaria spp.) hardy bulb, zones 3-7 depending on the species
  98. Fumitory (Corydalis spp.) perennial or bulb, zones 3-7 depending on the species
  99. Gas plant (Dictamnus albus) perennial, zone 3
  100. Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) annual or perennial, zone 6
  101. Geranium, bigroot (Geranium macrorrhizum) perennial, zone 3
  102. Giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha) perennial, zone 3
  103. Gomphrène (Gomphrena spp.) annual
  104. Goutweed (Aegopodium podagaria) perennial, zone 3
  105. Gras, switch (Panicum virgatum) ornamental grass, zone 4
  106. Grass, beard (Andropogon spp.) ornamental grass, zone 3
  107. Grass, blue hair (Koeleria glauca) ornmentale grass, zone 4
  108. Grass, blue oat (Helictotrichon sempervirens) ornamental grass, zone 4
  109. Grass, dune (Leymus arenaria ‘Glauca’) ornamental grass, zone 4
  110. Grass, fountain (Pennisetum) ornamental grass, 5b zone s-10 depending on the variety
  111. Grass, Indian (Sorghastrum nutans) ornamental grass, zone 4
  112. Grass, Japanese blood (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’) ornamental grass, zone 5
  113. Grass, Japanese forest (Hakonechloa macra) ornamental grass, zone 4
  114. Grass, pampas (Cortaderia selloana) ornamental grass, zone 8
  115. Grass, purple moor (Molinia caerulea) ornamental grass, zone 4
  116. Grass, reed (Calamagrostis spp.) ornamental grass, zone 3
  117. Grass, tuber oat (Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum ‘Variegatus), ornamental grass, zone 4
  118. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) tree, zones 3-6
  119. Hazel (Corylus spp.), Small fruit, 2to 6 zones
  120. Heath, spring (Erica carnea) shrub, zone 5b
  121. Heather, common (Calluna vulgaris) shrub, zone 4
  122. Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) annual or shrub, zone 10
  123. Hellebore (Helleborus spp.) perennial, zone 5
  124. Hen and chicks (Sempervivum spp.) perennial, zone 3
  125. Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) perennial, zone 4
  126. Holly (varieties with prickly leaves) (Ilex spp.) shrub, zones 4b-9 depending on the species
  127. Holly, sea (Eryngium spp.) perennial, zones 4-8 depending on the species
  128. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) herb, zone 3
  129. Houseleek (Sempervivum spp.) perennial, zone 3
  130. Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) hardy bulb, zone 4
  131. Hyacinth, grape (Muscari spp.) hardy bulb, zones 2-6 depending on the species
  132. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) herb, zone 4
  133. Hyssop, anise (Agastache spp.) perennial, zones 3-10 depending on the species
  134. Indigo, blue false (Baptisia spp.) perennial, zone 3
  135. Iris (Iris spp.) perennial, zones 3-8 depending on the species
  136. Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) perennial, zone 3
  137. Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium spp.) perennial, zone 3
  138. Jenny, creeping (Lysimachia nummularia) perennial, zone 3
  139. Juniper (Juniperus spp.) conifer, zones 1-7
  140. Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) tree, zone 5
  141. Kerria (Kerria japonica) shrub, zone 5b
  142. Laburnum (Cytisus spp.) shrub, zones 2-9 depending on the species
  143. Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) perennial, zone 3
  144. Lamium (Lamium maculatum) perennial, zone 2
  145. Lantana (Lanata camara) annual or tropical shrub, zone 9
  146. Larkspur (Consolida ambigua) annual
  147. Lavender (Lavandula spp.) herb, zones 5-8 depending on the species
  148. Leucothoë, drooping (Leucothoe fontanesiana) shrub, zone 6
  149. Ligularia (Ligularia spp.) zone 3
  150. Lilac, common (Syringa vulgaris) shrub, zone 2
  151. Lilac, Japanese (Syringa reticulata) tree, zone 3
  152. Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) perennial, zone 1
  153. Lily, cobra (Arisaema spp.) perennial, zones 3-8 depending on the species
  154. Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) perennial, zone 3
  155. Lupin (Lupinus spp.) perennial, zone 3
  156. Maple, Japanese (Acer palmatum) shrub or tree, zone 6
  157. Maple, Manitoba (Acer negundo) tree, zone 2
  158. Maple, paperbark (Acer griseum) tree, zone 6
  159. Maple, red (Acer rubrum) tree, zone 4
  160. Maple, striped (Acer pensylvanicum) tree, zone 4
  161. Marguerite, golden (Anthemis tinctoria) perennial, zone 3
  162. Marigold, pot (Calendula officinalis) annual
  163. Marjoram, sweet (Origanum majorana) herb, zone 7
  164. Mayapple (Podophyllum spp.) perennial, zones 4-7 depending on the species
  165. Meadow-rue (Thalictrum spp.) perennial, zones 2-6 depending on the species
  166. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) perennial, zones 3-10 depending on the species
  167. Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) tree, zone 6b
  168. Mint (Mentha spp.) culinary herb, zones 2-8 depending on the species
  169. Miscanthus (Miscanthus spp.) ornamental grass, zones 4-6 depending on the species
  170. Mitsuba, purple (Cryptotaenia japonica ‘Atropurpurea’), perennial, zone 4
  171. Monarda (Monarda spp.) perennial, zone 3
  172. Monkshood (Aconitum spp.) perennial, zone 3
  173. Mugwort (Artemisia spp.) perennial or shrub, zones 2-8 depending on the species
  174. Mullein (Verbascum spp.) perennial or biennial, zones 2-7
  175. Nicotiana (Nicotiana spp.) annual
  176. Oats, northern sea (Chasmanthium latifolium) ornamental grass, zone 5b
  177. Oleander (Nerium oleander) houseplant or shrub, zone 9
  178. Olive, Russian (Elaeagnus angustifolia) tree, zone 2b
  179. Onion (Allium cepa) vegetable
  180. Onion (Allium cepa) vegetable
  181. Onion, flowering (Allium spp.) hardy bulb, zones 2-8
  182. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) herb zone 5
  183. Oregon grape (Mahonia spp.) shrub, zones 5-9 depending on the species
  184. Pachysandra, Japanese (Pachysandra terminalis) perennial, zone 4
  185. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) biennial herb, zone 3
  186. Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) fruit tree, zone 6
  187. Pear, prickly (Opuntia spp.) perennial, zones 3-9
  188. Penstemon (Penstemon spp.) perennial, zones 2-8 depending on the species
  189. Peony, herbaceous (Paeonia spp.) perennial, zone 3
  190. Peony, tree (Paeonia suffruticosa) shrub, zone 4b
  191. Periwinkle, dwarf (Vinca minor) perennial, zone 4
  192. Periwinkle, Madagascar (Catharanthus rosea) annual
  193. Phlomis (Phlomis spp.) perennial, zones 3-8 depending on the species
  194. Pine (Pinus spp.) Conifer, zones 2-8
  195. Plum yew, Japanese (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) conifer, zone 7
  196. Poppy (Papaver spp.) annual, biennial or perennial, zones 3-5 depending on the species
  197. Poppy, California (Eschscholzia californica) annual
  198. Pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.) vegetable
  199. Rockcress (Arabis spp.) perennial, zones 3-5 depending on the species
  200. Rockcress, false (Aubretia spp.) perennial, zone 3-5 depending on the species
  201. Rodgersia (Rodgersia spp.) perennial, zone 4
  202. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) herb, zone 8
  203. Rue (Ruta graveolens) herb, zone 5
  204. Rush (Juncus spp.) ornamental grass, zones 3-7 depending on the species
  205. Russian cypress (Microbiota decussata) conifer, zone 3
  206. Saffron, meadow (Colchicum spp.) hardy bulb, zones 3-7 depending on the species
  207. Sage (Salvia officinalis) herb, zone 5
  208. Sage, perennial (Salvia spp.) perennial, zones 3-10 depending on the species
  209. Sage, Russian (Perovskia atriplicifolia) perennial, zone 4b
  210. Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus) annual or perennial, zone 7
  211. Savory (Satureja spp.), herb zone 4
  212. Scabious (Scabiosa spp.) annual or perennial, zone 3
  213. Sedge (Carex spp.) ornamental grass, zones 1-10 depending on the species
  214. Sedum (Sedum spp.) perennial, zones 2-10 (* Warning: fall sedums [genus Hylotelephium] are more susceptible to deer browsing that other sedums)
  215. Senna (Senna marilandica & S. hebecarpa), perennials, zones 4 to 9
  216. Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) shrub, zones 3-5 depending on the species
  217. Silphium (Silphium spp.) perennial, zone 4
  218. Skimmia, Japanese (Skimmia japonica) shrub, zone 6
  219. Snakeroot, white (Ageratina altissima ‘Chocolate’, syn. Eupatorium altissima) perennial, zone 4
  220. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) annual
  221. Sneezeweed (Helenium spp.) perennial, zone 3
  222. Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) hardy bulb, zone 3
  223. Snowflake (Leucojum spp.) hardy bulb, zone 4
  224. Soapwort (Saponaria spp.) perennial, zone 3
  225. Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp.) perennial, zones 3-6 depending on the species
  226. Speedwell (Veronica spp.) perennial, zones 3-5 depending on the species
  227. Spiderwort (Tradescantia x andersoniana) perennial, zone 4
  228. Spirea (Spiraea spp) shrub, zones 2-7 depending on the species
  229. Spruce (Picea spp.) conifer, zones 1-7 depending on the species
  230. Spurge (Euphorbia spp.) annual or perennial, zones 3-10 depending on the species
  231. Squash (Cucurbita spp.) vegetable
  232. Squill, Siberian (Scilla siberica) hardy bulb, zone 2
  233. Statice (Limonium spp.), annual or perennial, zone 3
  234. Sumac, fragrant (Rhus aromatica) shrub, zone 4
  235. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) perennial or herb, zone 3
  236. Taro (Colocasia spp.) tender bulb, zone 10
  237. Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) herb, zone 5
  238. Thistle, blue (Echinops spp.) perennial, zone 3
  239. Thrift (Ameria spp.) perennial, zones 3-5 depending on the species
  240. Thyme (Thymus spp.) perennial or herb, zones 3-8 depending on the species
  241. Tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) annual
  242. Valerian, red (Centranthus ruber) perennial, zone 3
  243. Viburnum (Viburnum spp.) shrub, zones 2-8 depending on the species
  244. Waxbells, yellow (Kirengeshoma spp.) perennial, zone 4
  245. Wild ginger (Asarum spp.) perennial, zones 3-7 depending on the species
  246. Wisteria (Wisteria spp.) climbing plant, zones 4b-9 depending on the species
  247. Wolfwillow (Elaeagnus commutata) shrub, zone 1b
  248. Woodruff, sweet (Galium odoratum) perennial, zone 4
  249. Wormwood (Artemisia spp.) perennial or shrub, zones 2-8 depending on the species
  250. Yarrow (Achillea spp.) perennial, zone 3
  251. Yucca (Yucca spp.) shrub, zones 3-10 depending on the species
  252. Zelkova (Zelkova spp.) tree, zone 6
  253. Zinnia (Zinnia spp.) annual

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

5 comments on “250 Deer Resistant Plants

  1. Great list. Now, if I only had a neighbor who didn’t feed them.

  2. Pingback: Deer Proofing Your Garden – Laidback Gardener

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