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Deer in the Garden

Deer Say Yuck: Easy-To-Grow Deer Resistant Plants

By David Salman, High Country Gardens Founder & Chief Horticulturist

As deer populations have been exploding in many parts of the country, especially in the eastern US, the damage they inflict on gardens and landscapes follows. While no plant is 100% deer-proof, there are many varieties that deer are highly unlikely to browse in your garden. We’ve made it easy to find deer-resistant plants that have natural defenses against browsing critters. Plus, find tips for establishing deer-resistant plants.

Deer Resistant Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Russian Sage (Perovskia), and Lavender
Deer Resistant Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Russian Sage (Perovskia), and Lavender

Aromatic Deer Resitant Plants

There are many plants that deer don't favor when they're out looking for a meal. In general, plants with strongly aromatic foliage are deer resistant, since the aromatic oils contained in the plants are bitter and generally unpalatable for critters. Culinary herbs, such as Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, and Lavender, are great choices in offering deer resistance because they have the added bonus of being for cooking or aromatherapy. These scents, while often pleasant for the gardener, are distasteful to deer, so they are less likely to choose those plants as a snack.

Our Favorite Aromatic Deer Resistant Plants

Deer Resistant Achillea (Yarrow), Coreopsis (Tickseed), and Liatris (Blazing Star)
Deer Resistant Achillea (Yarrow), Coreopsis (Tickseed), and Liatris (Blazing Star)

More Deer Resistant Plants With Natural Defenses

Throughout our website, you can use shopping filters to find plants with the "Deer Resistant" advantage. Below are some of our favorite plants with natural defenses once established.

Establishing Deer Resistant Plants

Browsing animals and new transplants are a bad combination. Nothing is more annoying than going out the morning after the previous day’s labor of planting, only to find all your plants bitten off at the soil line!  The lesson here? It’s important to understand that deer-resistant plants need some initial protection from our hoofed neighbors after planting.

Experience has shown me that deer-resistant plants generally do not come that way from the nursery. Most plants that depend on aromatic oils and bitter compounds to repel animals need time to build up their natural defenses. After a few months of growing in your garden, transplants will accumulate these deer-resistant compounds in their leaves and stems, and their deer resistance increases greatly. I strongly recommend creating a strategy to deter deer while your plants establish to protect young transplants from being eaten. 

Learn More: 7 Strategies For Deterring Deer


Explore Our Deer Resistant Plants

Deer Resistant Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Russian Sage (Perovskia), and Lavender
Deer Resistant Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Russian Sage (Perovskia), and Lavender

Deer Resistant Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Don’t overlook spring-blooming bulbs when choosing plants for deer resistance. These flowers have compounds or fragrances in them that are unpalatable - or sometimes toxic - to deer and critters. They’ll provide early season color and fragrance in your garden, early-season nectar and pollen for bees, without the worry. We offer Daffodils, Bearded Iris, Hyacinths, Muscari, and more.

Tulips are often favored by deer, and unfortunately, once the deer eat the blooms, the tulips won't bloom again until the next spring. If they are a “must have” for your spring garden, you may be able to keep the deer at bay if Tulips are planted amid other deer resistant plants. Wildflower Tulips are a good deer-resistant option.

Learn More: Daffodils & Other Deer Resistant Spring-Blooming Bulbs


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