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 protecting your plants? Sure the plants are safe, but that fence is an eyesore.
I’ve spent the last two years creating a perennial border using only deer-resistant plants. I don’t have any fencing and don’t use repellents. 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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 it. The list of my 10 favorite deer-resistant plants. I have grown each of these plants in my Zone 5 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!