Outdoor PestsWildlife

What Plants Deter Deer?

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Deer are beautiful creatures to watch but can wreak havoc in your garden, munching away on your carefully planted vegetables and flowers. If your garden is often visited by these charming yet destructive creatures, you might be wondering, “What plants deter deer?”


Deer are typically deterred by plants with strong scents, prickly leaves, or unpalatable tastes. Some of these plants include lambs ear, lady’s mantle, Siberian bugloss, flowering tobacco, yarrow, chives, daffodils, zinnias, rosemary, and marigolds. However, deer preferences can vary based on location and season, and no plant is completely deer-proof.

Understanding Deer Preferences

Deer have specific preferences when it comes to plants, and they tend to avoid certain types. Some plants that deter deer include those with fragrant foliage, strong scents, or prickly leaves. Deer-resistant plants include catmint (Nepeta), hyssop (Agastache), Artemisia, and Russian sage (Perovskia). Other plants that deer tend to avoid are chives, daffodils, lamb’s ear, bleeding heart, marigolds, Russian sage, bee balm, and oregano.

However, it’s essential to remember that no plant is entirely deer-proof, and deer preferences may vary depending on factors such as location, season, and availability of other food sources.

Top Plants That Naturally Deter Deer

Here are some of the top plants that naturally deter deer:

  1. Lambs ear (Stachys)
  2. Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)
  3. Siberian bugloss (Brunnera)
  4. Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana)
  5. Yarrow (Achillea)
  6. Chives
  7. Daffodils
  8. Zinnias
  9. Rosemary
  10. Marigolds
  11. Fountain Grass
  12. Spider Flower
  13. Carolina Jessamine
  14. Wisteria
  15. Verbena
  16. Vinca
  17. Ajuga
  18. Agave
  19. Aster
  20. Astilbe
  21. Black-eyed Susan
  22. Bellflower
  23. Catmint
  24. Centaurea
  25. Echinops

These plants are deer-resistant due to their strong smells, fuzzy or prickly foliage, or unpalatable taste. Planting these in your garden can help deter deer from browsing and causing damage to your plants.

Why Do These Plants Deter Deer?

Plants deter deer through a combination of smell, taste, and texture. Deer have a highly developed sense of smell and tend to avoid plants with strong or unpleasant odors. Aromatic plants that deer dislike include chives, fennel, garlic, lavender, peonies, and ornamental salvias. Some plants also have a bitter taste or contain toxic compounds that deter deer from eating them.

Additionally, the texture of a plant’s foliage can deter deer. Fuzzy, hairy, and leathery foliage can cause discomfort for deer when they try to eat the plant.

Integrating Deer-Deterrent Plants into Your Garden

When integrating these deer deterrent plants into your garden, consider using a variety of strategies such as grouping plants together in odd numbers, creating a focal point with a standout plant, and using layering to create depth and dimension.

You can also incorporate companion planting, where plants that complement each other in terms of growth habits, pest control, and soil improvement are grown together.

The Wrap Up

Remember, no plant is absolutely deer-proof, and deer preferences for certain plants may vary from one area to another. The best approach to deter deer from your garden is to use a combination of methods, such as planting less attractive plants, using repellents, and installing physical barriers like fencing.

By incorporating these strategies, you can enjoy a beautiful garden that’s less likely to be a dinner buffet for the local deer population.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some other methods to deter deer from my garden?

In addition to planting deer-resistant plants, you could consider installing a deer fence or using deer repellents. Deer repellents can be either odor-based or taste-based. Odor-based repellents work by emitting a smell that deer find unpleasant, while taste-based repellents make plants taste bad to deer.

Can deer develop a taste for deer-resistant plants?

Yes, it’s possible. Deer are adaptable creatures, and in areas where food is scarce, they might start eating plants they would usually avoid. However, they are more likely to eat these plants as a last resort and will typically prefer other food sources if available.

Are there any deer-resistant vegetables I can plant in my garden?

Yes, there are several deer-resistant vegetables you can consider for your garden. These include asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, rhubarb, and tomatoes.

Will planting these deer-resistant plants completely keep deer out of my garden?

No, planting deer-resistant plants will not guarantee that deer will stay out of your garden. However, they can reduce the likelihood of deer browsing in your garden. It’s best to use a combination of methods, including deer-resistant plants, repellents, and physical barriers, to deter deer effectively.

Are there any deer-resistant fruit trees?

Yes, some fruit trees are less appealing to deer. These include fig trees, persimmon trees, and some varieties of apple trees. However, young trees may need protection as deer might be attracted to their tender bark and shoots.

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