15 Deer-Resistant Plants

A Columbian black-tailed deer enjoying rose petals
Another deer—this one a Columbian black-tailed deer—enjoying rose petals at just the right height with the least effort. Photo: courtesy of May Kald

John Van Etten, former grounds superintendent at the Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York, recommends 15 plants that deer won’t eat; your experience, of course, may differ. For a list of deer-resistant plants in your area, contact your local extension agent. To learn more about the plants shown below, click on the images to see their Plant Guide profiles.

Perennials and annuals

Basket of gold
2. Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis, Zones 4–8). (Plant Guide profile is unavailable.) Photo: gardentrek


Basket of gold
2. Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis, Zones 4–8). (Plant Guide profile is unavailable.) Photo: gardentrek


Bleeding hearts
3. Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis, Zones 3–9). Photo: Jennifer Benner


Globe amaranth
4. Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa, annual). Photo: Michelle Gervais


Lambs' ears
5. Lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina, Zones 4–8). Photo: Michelle Gervais


6. Lantanas (Lantana spp. and cvs., annual). Photo: Melissa Lucas


7. Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis, Zones 2–7). Photo: Michelle Gervais


Russian sage
8. Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia, Zones 6–9). Photo: Michelle Gervais


9. Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus cvs., annual). Photo: Melissa Lucas


Spider flowers
10. Spider flowers (Cleome hassleriana cvs., annual). Photo: Carl E. Lewis

Trees and shrubs

11. Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis, Zones 5–9). Photo: Steve Aitken


Chaste trees
12. Chaste trees (Vitex spp. and cvs., Zones 6–9). Photo: Bill Johnson


13. Daphnes (Daphne × burkwoodii cvs., Zones 5–8). Photo: Stephanie Fagan


14. Shadbushes (Amelanchier spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9). Photo: Jennifer Benner


15. Spireas (Spiraea spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9). Photo: courtesy of Bailey Nurseries
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  1. brooksgardens 08/01/2014

    Peonies! Deer roam our peony farm every night and have never caused any damage to the peony plants or flowers. Peonies are deer resistant plants!

  2. galani 08/04/2014

    I read the headline as dog - resistant plants.

  3. jamestrippi 04/21/2015

    Tried and true favorites: Daffodils/narcissus, digitalis, mints, most herbs, chives (pick and scatter on young plants), Holly, prickly pear cactus (weather resistant to Zone 5) and Surprise Lillies.

  4. jammythebammy 04/04/2016


    1. Aslynn 04/07/2016

      Invasive. It's not a big deal for urban gardens but it is a mess when the birds poop the berries in our forests and it takes over the understory. Some states no longer allow it to be sold because of the problems.

      1. susankritzik 05/02/2017

        Depends if it's Vinca minor or major. Minor isn't that invasive. Major is very invasive.

      2. Lakewaygardener 05/02/2017

        Lots of Barberry is invasive too. Here in Mn the DNR has a list based on hiw much seed is produced and some of them will not be allowed for sale in Nurseries. Also on the "watch" list is Amur Maple. I have seen it spreading in the woods like Buckthorn. My friend has a hedge if she pulls it every spring along with Buckthorn. I have been pulling Vinca for years. Every little scrape is capable of covering my woodsy backyard full if native plants.

    2. jjhelna 03/06/2017

      LOVE vinca. It's beautiful cascading down rock walls from a higher planter. Thanks for letting me know it's deer-proof!

      1. daizie 05/02/2017

        I love the vinca plants not the vine, what a job to get rid of that. But they have annual plants and the deer don't like them. Red White, mixed, Pink

  5. cathyrohrscheib 04/08/2016

    I'm wanting to plant per Winkler owner of they eat it?

    1. jjhelna 03/06/2017

      Are you referring to periwinkle? It's also called VINCA. It is deer-proof according to another post here and it looks marvelous cascading down rock walls from a raised planter.

    2. OneKSGardner 05/10/2017

      If you plant the vine plan on never ever wanting something else where you plant it. Very invasive. Would love to give you my whole patch.

  6. tim_champion 05/23/2016

    I have lots of stuff deer in my yard. They leave the barberry (burning bush) alone.

  7. irynasharovar 02/14/2017

    Shasta daisy and allium. Burning bush and spirea nipponica snowmound are not deer proof in my area (Utah)

    1. rivertwist 05/11/2017

      They eat my burning bush!

  8. cathymessinger 02/16/2017

    My deer don't touch the boxwood, and they generally leave the cherry laurels alone. Both are evergreen.

  9. user-7008383 03/01/2017

    I intermix a lot of silk flowers these days :/ they look real ...especially mixed with real ones........they dont cost as much , they dont die and I can use them a few years before they fade

    1. maureenstevens 05/11/2017

      not much good for our insect life though, including bees and butterflies.

  10. jjhelna 03/06/2017

    Here is a better list:

    1. bluesky7226 05/02/2017

      there was nothing wrong with the list in the article. The plants are ideas to get you started. There are lots of comprehensive lists on the internet...and deer will act differently depending on where you live. Thanks for sharing your list, too.

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