Top 10 Deer Resistant Plants for Your Garden

My Garden Life
July 10, 2017
Table of Contents

Gardeners who live in heavily deer-populated areas know just how frustrating it can be to see their hard work trampled and eaten by hungry, roaming deer. Fortunately, there are numerous steps gardeners can take to keep deer at bay.

One of the best options is to incorporate plants that deer don’t like into the layout of your garden. Below are 10 such suggestions. Some are annual (die after growing for one season) while others are perennial (regrow on their own every spring).

1. Vinca

Pink and White Vinca Flowers (Catharanthus roseus)Vinca (Catharanthus) is a hardy annual plant that is drought-tolerant and doesn’t taste good to deer. It grows well in hot and dry places, and happily, you’ll see blooms all summer long with this plant. Find it in numerous colors from red and pink to purple and white.

2. Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller Plants Next to Purple Pansies (Senecio cineraria)To offset the dark greens and vibrant colors of your garden, dusty miller’s (Senecio) silvery white appearance is the ideal choice. Deer tend to avoid eating plants with fuzzy leaves, like dusty miller. This annual is simple to plant and tolerates drought easily. It grows low, so it’s great as a perimeter plant.

3. Vinca Vine

Variegated Vinca Vine, Green with White Edges and Blue Flowers (Vinca major)Vinca vine (Vinca major) is an evergreen perennial that is perfect for gardeners who don’t have a lot of time for fussing. It does well in nearly any climate and can easily withstand drought. These vines are low to the ground and spread rapidly, making them an excellent groundcover.

4. Bugleweed

Bugleweed Caitlin's Giant, Purple Leaved-plants Surrounding a Trunk (Ajuga reptans)Looking for more groundcover? Bugleweed (Ajuga) is practically foolproof and doesn’t taste good to deer. This perennial is fast-growing and is available in a wide range of lovely leaf colors. Additionally, blue flowers bloom from late spring to early summer; it’s easy to care for and can spread wherever you want it.

5. Boxwood

Row of Rounded Boxwood Shrubs Planted Near a Building Foundation (Buxus microphylla var japonica)Boxwood (Buxus) encompasses hundreds of shrubs and small trees and is likely the most popular shrub in America. These shrubs do great lining pathways or surrounding your garden. It can withstand full sun and partial shade. Trim them into classic spheres or boxes, or get even more creative — they take on whatever shape you desire.

6. Dwarf Alberta Spruce

3 Dwarf Alberta Spruce Conica Planted in a Group (Picea glauca)

Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) plants are small conifers (bearing needles and cones) that can add height to your garden and serve as a framing feature. But don’t worry: their cone-like shape won’t get too high — they’re dwarves (six to eight feet) — and you can enjoy them year-round.

7. Peony

Peony Dr. Alexander Fleming, Pink Peony Flowers (Paeonia lactiflora)Some of the largest and most beautiful perennial flowering plants are peonies (Paeonia). They don’t require a lot of tending, but their fluffy blooms do like full sun or partial shade. When planting near other flowers, they do best next to roses and irises. Plus, deer usually don’t like the taste of peonies.

8. Lavender

Light Pink and Purple Lavender Plants Near a White Picket Fence (Lavandula)The lovely purple, pink or white blooms of lavender (Lavandula) are an excellent addition to any garden. Like peonies, lavender is another perennial. Plant it in the ground or containers. Deer don’t like to eat lavender plants because of their fragrance. Their neat forms are easy to grow, but they prefer full sun and plenty of air circulation.

9. Anise Hyssop

Purple Flowering Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)Anise hyssop (Agastache) is another ideal perennial plant. The erect shoots have fuzzy lavender blue spikes at the tops, and on average, they’ll grow three to five feet tall, making them great for borders. Their flowers also attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Even humans can eat them. Deer avoid eating anise hyssop plants because of their strong, licorice scent.

10. Daffodil

Yellow Daffodils by the Water (Narcissus)Finally, there are daffodils (Narcissus). These reliable perennials are often the first to bloom every spring. Their cheerful flowers can grow almost anywhere, and their straight and orderly leaves frame the blooms nicely. They’ll do well with full sun or partial shade. Daffodils are toxic to deer, so they won’t eat them.

If your deer problem is severe, plant these 10 plants in a pseudo-perimeter around the deer-alluring plants in your garden. The strong scent of these “deer deterrents” will disguise the others and leave deer uninterested in pursuing your garden for food.

Looking for more ways to stop deer? Check out 5 easy ways to deter deer from your garden.


  1. Dee

    The deer ate most if ny Vincas

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Dee,
      So sorry to hear about your vinca. Unfortunately, very few plants (if any) are really safe if deer get hungry enough. We have a few more plant suggestions in our article, Stop Uninvited Guests…Deer. Perhaps you could try one of the plants listed there as a replacement.

      • R Tucker

        They don’t eat my marigolds

        • My Garden Life

          Thanks for sharing this Roger! You are correct, deer usually avoid eating marigolds, most likely due to the plant and flower’s strong scent that deer apparently find unappealing.

  2. Louise Matz

    The deer never touched my astilbe & I had a group of 12.

    • My Garden Life

      Thanks for letting us know, Louise! Sounds like astilbe is another great option for anyone looking for deer-resistant plants.

    • Randy Thorpe

      Deer haven’t touched my astilbes but are nibbling at the heucheras.

      • My Garden Life

        Hi Randy,
        Astilbe and Heuchera are typically not favored by deer, but your comment reminds us that a hungry deer may sample many plants! Thanks for sharing your helpful information.


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