Ten Deer Resistant Plants (Yeah, right!)
Here’s a list of ten very common plants deer will generally leave alone. That being said, you may want to print this list out and post it in your garden so the deer will read it too!
The mint (Lamiaceae) family of herbs is frequently used by us for culinary purposes, but deer hate it. As an added bonus, you can cook with them. In the mint family are many common and potent smelling herbs such as rosemary, marjoram, and oregano. Deer will leave a nice herb garden alone.
Pot marigolds (Calendula) are related to daisies and not actually related to other marigolds (Tagetes). They are short-lived, easy-to-grow annuals. They range in color from pastel yellow to deep orange and are very aromatic. Their strong scent repels deer and they will brighten up your garden.
The snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) or dragon flower is a neat annual, whose flower resembles a dragon’s face. When you squeeze it laterally it will open and close its “mouth,” giving it the “snap” in its name. It is a colorful annual that can be white, yellow, pink, red, orange, or lavender. They also come in three sizes: dwarf, medium, and tall - ranging from six to forty-eight inches. Snapdragons look great paired with sage (Salvia) flowers, which are also deer resistant.
Irises (Iris) are a huge family of flowering plants consisting of 260 to 300 species. The name iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, which accurately describes the extensive range of colors the plants come in. They are a very popular ornamental plant. During one long drought, deer did nibble on them briefly, but that was a short lived problem.
Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) makes a great addition to any flower garden. They are a low maintenance perennial growing to heights between two and five feet with gorgeous pink, purple, or white flowers. They attract hummingbirds, but deer hate them and so do rabbits. The tubular flowers are extremely showy and arranged in an elongated cluster.
If you like smaller perennial flowers there are two species of forget-me-not that may be up your alley. The water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides) and the wood forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica). They both have little blue flowers. The former requires more moisture and the latter is great for wooded ears and makes a good ground cover.
A shrub that deer are not fond of is the Northern Bayberry (Myrica penslyvanica). The deciduous species is native to eastern North America and they are known for growing well in poor soil. They are not particularly ornamental, but their fragrance may ward away deer if used as a border plant around the perimeter of your lawn.
Another shrub deer are not partial to is the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris). Lilacs are much more interesting to look at than bayberry bushes. The flowers generally bloom in May and range from pink to mauve and sometimes white. They smell sweet to us, but not deer.
Birch (Betula) trees are small to medium in size and grow prevalently in the northern hemisphere. The name is derived from an old Germanic word meaning “white, bright; to shine.” The name describing the tree’s light colored bark. The bark is known for separating into thin, paper-like plates, especially on the paper birch. The foliage of birch trees is excellent food for butterfly larvae, so it isn’t uncommon to see caterpillars roaming the limbs. As with the other deer resistant plants, birch trees have a fragrance deer don’t like.
A very interesting tree too look at that deer don’t enjoy is commonly known as devil’s walkingstick (Aralia spinosa). The name comes from the sharp, spiny stems. It has an exotic, almost tropical appearance, although it is native to eastern North America. It flowers in the late summer with small, creamy white blooms that grow in clusters. They are slow-growing, but very durable and they have a scent almost like that of a lemon.