Deer Resistant Plants
A well-designed landscape should reinforce the mutual relationships that exist in nature. Plants provide food and habitat for wildlife. In return, those animals provide a host of benefits such as pollination, fertilization, and pest control. As stewards of this relationship, we get to enjoy observing both sides of this symbiosis. Yet sometimes, when this balance becomes skewed, woodland critters can have a negative impact on the beauty of our landscapes.
Deer are opportunistic feeders that will eat just about anything if they are hungry enough. Because of this, extra care is needed when designing a landscape in deer country. Done correctly, your natural areas can maintain the balance of nature while keeping hungry deer at a respectful distance. No plants are truly ‘deer proof’, but there are a few that are lower on the menu than others.
Annuals provide a stunning pop of color from spring to fall. That, of course, assumes deer haven’t made them a part of their daily diet. Below are some great options for deer resistant annuals.
Newly emerging perennials are a staple to hungry deer in the spring. They’ve struggled to find food over the cold winter months and those fresh shoots are hard to resist. Below are some perennials that are less likely to become a spring time snack.
- Bee Balm (Monarda)
- Bleeding Heart
- False Indigo (Baptisia)
- Feather Reed Grass
- Fleece Flower
- Jacob’s Ladder
- Lamb’s Ear
- Lenten Rose
- Little Bluestem
- Maiden Grass
- Oriental Poppy
- Russian Sage
- Sage (Salvia)
- Thyme and other herbs (except basil)
- Yarrow (Achillea)
Starving deer have not issue chewing through the woody stems of shrubs. They especially like the new growth that emerges in early spring. The shrubs below tend to have fewer issues with deer damage.
Some evergreens are a favorite of deer. Luckily, there are still some great options for success in deer country.
As with other plants in this list, no tree is truly safe from a hungry deer. This is especially true for young trees. In extra harsh winters, deer may even strip the bark off some trees to extract what little nutrients they can to survive the cold. However, this is a list of trees that deer eat less often.