Deer-Resistant Plants

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Backyard Deer

See our list of deer-resistant plants to keep the hungry herds away from your garden!

First, what is deer candy? Deer love narrow-leaf evergreens, especially arborvitae and fir, and show a preference for hostas, daylilies, and English ivy, according to researchers in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, who have studied whitetailed deer damage to nurseries in the Northeast and report heaviest browsing from October through February.

And several growers who participated in the study noted that deer seem to prefer plants that have been fertilized.

Which plants do deer dislike?

  • Not surpisingly, deer stay away from poisonous plants! Daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies are common flowers that have a toxicity that deer avoid.
  • Deer also turn their noses up at fragrant plants with strong scents.  Herbs such as sages, ornamental salvias, lavenders, peonies, and bearded irises are just “stinky” to deer.
  • Would you want to eat something prickly? Neither do deer (unless they’re desperate). Plants such as lamb’s ear are not on their preferred menu.
  • Our favorite deer-resistant perennials are bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis). They are popular with us, but not deer! 

Keeping in mind that the first rule in deer proofing is that there really are no deer-proof plants, here is a chart with some plants that deer rarely or seldom severely damage:

Top Deer-Resistant Plants

Botanical name Common name
Achillea filipendulina Yarrow
Aconitum sp. Monkshood
Ageratum houstonianum Ageratum
Allium sp. Onion
Amelanchier laevis Allegheny Serviceberry
Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon
Armoracia rusticana Horseradish
Artemisia dracunculus Tarragon
Artemisia sp. Silver Mound
Arisaema triphylum Jack-in-the-pulpit
Asarum canadense Wild Ginger
Asparagus officinalis Asparagus
Aster sp. Aster
Astilbe sp. Astilbe
Berberis sp. Barberry
Borage officinalis Borage
Buddleia sp. Butterfly Bush
Buxus sempervirens Common Boxwood
Helleborus sp. Lenten or Christmas Rose
Cactaceae sp. Cactus
Calendula sp. Pot Marigold
Caryopteris clandonensis Blue Mist Shrub
Centaurea cineraria Dusty Miller
Centaurea cyanus Bacherlor’s Buttons
Cleome sp. Spider Flower
Colchicum sp. Autumn Crocus
Consolida ambigua Larkspur
Convallaris majalis Lily of the Valley
Coreopsis verticillata Threadleaf Coreopsis
Corydalis sp. Corydalis
Cytisus sp. Broom
Daphne sp. Daphne
Dicentra spectabilis Bleeding Heart
Digitalis purpurea Common Foxglove
Dryopteris marginalis Wood Fern
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower
Echinops ritro Small Globe Thistle
Endymion sp. Bluebell
Eranthus hyemalis Winer Aconite
Euphorbia marginata Snow-on-the-Mountain
Euphorbia sp. (except ‘Chameleon’) Spurge
Festuca glauca Blue Fescue
Fritilaria imperialis Crown Imperial, Fritilia
Galanthus nivalis Snowdrops
Gypsophila sp. Baby’s Breath
Helichrysum Strawflower
Heliorope arborescens Heliotrope
Hyssopus officinalis Hyssop
Ilex opaca American Holly
Ilex verticillata Winterberry Holly
Iris sp. Iris
Juniperus Juniper
Lantana sp. Lantana
Lavandula sp. Lavender
Limonium latifolium Statice
Lobularia maritima Sweet Alyssum
Marrubium vulgare Horehound
Melissa officinalis Lemon Balm
Mentha sp. Mint
Monarda didyma Beebalm
Myosotis sp. Forget-Me-Not
Myrica pensylvanica Bayberry
Narcissus sp. Daffodil
Nepeta sp. Catmint
Ocimum basilicum Basil
Osmunda Fern
Pachysandra terminalis Pachysandra
Paeonia sp. Peony
Papaver Poppy
Perovskio atriplicifolia Russian Sage
Picea glauca ‘Conica’ Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Pimpinalla anisum Anise
Pinus Pine
Potentilla Cinquefoil
Ranunculus sp. Buttercup
Rhus aromatica Fragrant Sumac
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary
Rudbeckia sp. Black-Eyed Susan
Ruta sp. Rue
Salix Willows
Salvia officinalis Garden Sage
Stachys byzantina Lamb’s Ear
Syringa vulgaris Common Lilac
Tanacetum vulgare Common Tansy
Teucrium chamaedrys Germander
Thumus sp. Thyme
Yucca Yucca
Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood Viburnum
Zinnia Zinnia

List courtesy of Outwitting Deer by Bill Adler Jr.

Click to read more tips on how to deter deer in the garden!


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I live in Burns, Oregon which is zon 5

I would like to know if there is list of flowers and shrubs that will grow in winters at 5 degrees and very hot summers and are also deer tolerant.


how can I rid myself of nematodes naturally?

from Zone 6 near Buffalo, NY.

from Zone 6 near Buffalo, NY. We have dozens of deer, but they have never eaten the Yucca in my yard. Daylilies in the front, unfenced yard have not had the chance to bloom in many years. Buds are eaten as soon as they form. Hosta, save for the toughest leaved varieties, are eaten to the ground. Hibiscus on occasion get a bud or two eaten, but not much on them. Boxwood at present time (2015) is never touched. Spruce were never eaten until the winter of 2013 - 14. Bad winter, many trees on the street were eaten up as far as deer could reach.

Nowhere on that list did it

Nowhere on that list did it mention Hostas as deer resistant. As a matter of fact, deer LOVE them! It's a pretty well known fact!

I can say that in SW Ohio

I can say that in SW Ohio Rudbeckia, Ecchinacea, ANY variety of rose, Obedient plant, corkscrew willow & crabapple saplings, ruellia, hardy hibiscus, dahlias, clematis & Asiatic lilies are NOT deer resistant. Many of these are on your list. The deer have devoured my flowerbeds. Other than the lilies they've never bothered these plants before this year. They havent touched daylilies, hostas or asclepias, however. And daylilies & hostas are supposed to be their favorites.

I just had a straw flower

I just had a straw flower devoured. My yard in the California foothills is slowly turning to oleander. I've had good luck with star jasmine, rosemary, coreopsis, chives, lavender, euonymus, lupine, and oregano.

Just wondering if the deer

Just wondering if the deer need to make reservations for this delicacy served in Restaurants.

I went over the list above

I went over the list above and while I have not tried all these plants, most of the one's I have are eaten right up by the deer here in the Poconos. The one's I've had good luck with are Snapdragons,and Lamb's Ear. The one's I can't grow without fencing in are: Butterfly Bush, Common Boxwood, Bleeding Heart, American Holly, Iris, Lavender, DAFFAODIL (always eat flower as about to open), Fern, Peony, and Yucca. The only pine they basically leave alone is Blue Spruce.

If you have a t-post fence up

If you have a t-post fence up and it is not all enoght to keek the deer out use the t-post extenders from to make your fence taller. The you can have any type of plants easy solve!!!

Hi Marcia, Deer eat almost

Hi Marcia,
Deer eat almost anything but some plants they leave alone if there are other food sources around. Yucca is included in most published lists for deer resistant plants because its leaves can be a bit prickly. Some varieties of yucca is more resistant than others. Our list comes from a book, Outwitting Deer, by Bill Adler Jr.

Hate to tell you but your

Hate to tell you but your list is wrong. We have Yucca plants in VA and the deer absolutely love them. They are a delicacy served in Restaurants so why they are on the list floors me. Sorry but you are wrong about this plant,

i have non-blooming Yuccas

i have non-blooming Yuccas here in North Carolina and have not had any nibbbles from deer. Hostas they love! They haven't bothered lantanas, camelias, gardenias, or hydrangas. We live near a nature park and have counted up to ten deer hanging out at times.