10 Proven Deer-Resistant Plants for Your Garden

Here’s the thing. We all deal with destructive garden pests. We come up with clever ways to keep pests out of our garden, but is there anything uglier than a make-shift chicken wire fence? Sure the plants are safe, but who wants to look at that fence?

I’ve spent the last two years creating a perennial border using only deer-resistant plants. Today I’m sharing my list of the 10 most successful deer-resistant plants I’ve found. This list is based on real-life experience from my Zone 6a (which I treat like Zone 5) Michigan garden.

Rose Campion or Lychnis coronaria

This brightly colored biennial is the perfect deer-resistant plant. Deer tend to avoid fuzzy leaves like the ones on rose campion. This is a perfect flower to use in drifts along a border. They can be cut back after blooming or left to self-seed.

Bearded Iris

This plant comes in many shapes and colors. This yellow one pictured here is a re-bloomer I got from my Mom’s garden. Unfortunately, I don’t know the variety, but this iris blooms in Spring and late summer. The deer have never touched any of the iris I have growing in the garden.

Clematis

Note: Many people find this is not a deer resistant in their area.

This beautiful vine likes its head in the sunshine and its feet in the shade. They like moist, well-drained soil. You can read about how to plant and care for them here. The clematis shown in this photo was given to me by my Mom. It is Clematis × jackmanii. A variety that has been in cultivation since 1862.

This plant holds a special meaning for me because it started blooming the day we brought my Mom home from a very difficult hospital stay.

Alalia Cordata ‘Sun King’

This is the perfect shade-loving perennial. I love its bright chartreuse-colored foliage. This plant will brighten up any shady spot and it has proven to be quite deer-resistant in my garden.

Allium

Deer tend to avoid plants with a strong scent. The word allium means garlic in Latin. No wonder deer won’t touch it. This bulb is a staple for any deer-resistant planting scheme. My favorite source for allium bulbs is Color Blends. They sell high quality bulbs at affordable prices.

Boxwood

Boxwood is a great deer-resistant shrub. Plus, it’s evergreen and provides much needed structure to the garden in the Winter months in my Zone 5 garden. I have been gardening in my area for over 27 years and I have never had a deer eat any boxwood. Ever!

Japanese Spirea

I love this plant. It comes in a variety of flower colors and foliage colors. You can find spirea with bright orange-yellow leaves and magenta-pink flowers. My experience to date has been very successful. These plants typically remain untouched by deer. This season I am experimenting with growing spirea from stem cuttings as a way to add more plants for free.

Shasta Daisy

I expected deer to eat daisies. I’m not sure why, but these plants seem to avoid being eaten by deer and ground hogs alike. A great variety of daisy for the garden is ‘Becky’. That is the variety in the photo. It was the perennial of the year in 2003 and I can understand why. It’s a gorgeous plant, and it doesn’t require staking.

Hellebores

This season I’ve developed a serious love for hellebores. These plants are the first to bloom in late winter and early spring. Often times in the snow. They make great cut flowers, come in a wide range of colors, and have beautiful foliage.

So there you have the list of my 10 favorite deer-resistant plants. I have grown each of these plants in my garden, and I have hands-on experience showing me that deer do not prefer these plants.

But remember, there are no guarantees when it comes to deer-resistant plants. If an animal is hungry, they will eat what they can find. This list of plants is a great place to start building your own deer-resistant garden.

I’d love to hear your recommended deer-resistant plants from your experience. Please leave your suggestions in the comments section below. Happy gardening!

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