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10 of the Best Deer-Resistant Plants for Your Garden

ByBusinessmatters Staff | Updated: May 13, 2024
ByBusinessmatters Staff
Updated: May 13, 2024
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Sight of deer gracefully browsing in your yard might seem charming. However, for those who have experienced the appetite of these four-legged visitors, it's well known that they can swiftly ravage the gardens you've painstakingly nurtured. While no plant is entirely immune to deer, there are strategies to make your garden less appealing to them. Beyond employing motion-sensor sprinklers and erecting fences, integrating deer-resistant shrubs and plants into your landscape can help safeguard your garden's vitality.

Deer-Resistant Plants for Your Garden
Deer-Resistant Plants for Your Garden


01. Marigold
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The marigold, with its vibrant gold, copper, or brass hues, serves as an excellent annual border plant that naturally repels deer. This is due to allelopathy, where plants release chemicals to defend their territory.

  • Season of Bloom: summer into autumn.
  • Growing Conditions: They thrive even under drought-like conditions and are known for their ability to deter pests when planted near certain vegetables, like tomatoes.
  • Size: Marigold varieties vary in size - 2 to 4 feet in height.


02. Rosemary
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Herbs that enhance culinary dishes often repel deer, thanks to their strong aromas. Rosemary, with its fragrant foliage, is no exception. Both trailing and upright varieties are effective, requiring sandy, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. In late spring or early summer, rosemary plants produce white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, adding a splash of color to your garden.

  • Season of Bloom: Blooms with blue flowers; specific season not detailed.
  • Growing Conditions: Prefers warm, well-drained environments; drought-tolerant.
  • Size: Grows 5 to 10 feet tall as a woody shrub in ideal conditions.


03. Hellebore
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Also known as the Lenten rose, hellebores are among the first plants to bloom, sometimes even before winter concludes. With evergreen leaves that persist through the cold, these plants display flowers in shades of cream, dusty rose, and sometimes bi-colors with green hints.

  • Season of Bloom: February to May.
  • Growing Conditions: Partial shade, well-draining soil.
  • Size: 18 to 24 inches tall and 24 inches wide.


04. Catmint
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Catmint is a robust perennial herb that bursts into clusters of lavender-blue flowers in full sun. This plant, reaching about three feet in height and width at maturity, is another low-maintenance option for gardeners.

  • Season of Bloom: Late spring to early fall.
  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-draining soil.
  • Size: Varies by species, typically 1 to 3 feet tall and wide.


05. Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley
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The charming, bell-shaped flowers of the lily of the valley emit a sweet fragrance that also serves to deter deer. These plants prefer moist, shaded areas but can adapt to sunnier spots with some care.

  • Season of Bloom: Late spring.
  • Growing Conditions: Shade; moist, well-draining soil.
  • Size: 6 to 12 inches tall.


06. Peony
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Peonies, with their exquisite fragrance and stunning blooms, are a fantastic addition to sunny, well-drained gardens. These perennials are deer resistant, thanks to their potent scent. Although slow to mature, peonies are long-lived, offering a spectrum of colors from white to deep red throughout late spring and early summer.

  • Season of Bloom: Late spring through early summer.
  • Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil; cold-hardy.
  • Size: Varies, but many grow about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.


07. Winterberry Holly
Winterberry Holly
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The winterberry holly, with its glossy green leaves and vibrant berries, is unattractive to deer but beloved by birds. This plant is versatile, thriving from the Canadian woods to Floridian swamps and westward to Missouri. Ideal for hedges and borders, winterberry holly adds a pop of color to winter landscapes when its foliage falls, leaving the berries to stand out.

  • Bloom Season: Flowers in late spring; berries in fall/winter.
  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; tolerates wet conditions.
  • Size: 3 to 15 feet tall; spreads to form thickets.


08. Bee Balm
Bee Balm
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For those who appreciate cut flowers, bee balm is an excellent deer-resistant option. Its mint-scented foliage is off-putting to deer, while the open, daisy-like blooms attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Thriving in moist, rich soil and sunny spots, bee balm varieties range in height and color, adding diversity to your garden.

  • Season of Bloom: Mid- to late summer.
  • Growing Conditions: Prefers full sun to partial shade; moist, well-draining soil.
  • Size: 2 to 4 feet tall.


09. Cosmos
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Cosmos, native to Mexico and the southern U.S., are self-seeding, deer-resistant annuals that flourish in dry conditions and can reach up to six feet tall. Available in a wide array of colors, these plants are adaptable, though deer resistance may vary by region. In some areas, young buds may require protection from deer.

  • Season of Bloom: Summer through fall.
  • Growing Conditions: Can survive in poor soil conditions; full sun.
  • Size: Up to 6 feet tall.


10. Lamb’s Ear
Lamb’s Ear
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Lamb’s ear, historically used for medicinal purposes, features silvery-gray, fuzzy leaves that deer find unappealing. This drought-tolerant plant prefers full sun to partial shade and is resistant to deer, making it a practical choice for gardeners.

  • Season of Bloom: Summer.
  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; dry to medium, very well-drained soils.
  • Size: 1 to 1.5 feet tall and wide.