There are plants that deer don’t normally find appetizing. We refer to these as deer resistant plants. For the most part these plants are usually are passed over.
Fawns will take a bite of many plants and spit it out if it doesn’t taste right. Its irritating to you, but this is how they learn what they should eat. Kids will be kids, no matter how many legs they have.
For a general rule of thumb, deer will not be attracted to certain groups of plants:
Many people report that the deer eat their rose bushes. The damage complaint is usually that there will be no blooms for the season. They won’t eat the whole shrub, just the most recent growth. The thorns on the new growth parts of the stem are young and tender, and it’s also where all rosebuds form. Spray new growth to enjoy your roses – they won’t bother the rest of the plant.
Deer in different areas seem to be attracted to different plants. This could be due to a sudden shortage of food caused by bad weather. It could also be caused by the different plants available in the wild the deer are accustomed to eating from place to place.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a deer proof garden or landscape without a really tall fence. Just like any starving creature, if the deer are hungry enough – they will eat anything that isn’t poisonous to them.
Good luck with your plantings. We hope the list below is an assistance to you.
Important To Note
This list of deer resistant plants is compiled from reports and recommendations by nurseries, garden centers, horticulture educators, master gardeners, and landscapers across the country. As stated above, deer eat different plants in different regions. They are known to eat anything but daffodil and narcissus when starving.
For a more precise list compiled on your deer in your region, contact your county extension service. You will find the phone number in your local telephone directory.
Clematis (Glory Bower)
Gelsemium sempervirens (Jessamine)
Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern)
Athyrium niponicum (Japanese Fern)
Blechnum (Deer Fern)
Cyrtomium fortunei (Holly Fern)
Dryopteris erythosora (Autumn Fern)
Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive Fern)
Osmunda (Royal Fern)
Thelypteris decursive (Beech Fern)
Calla (Calla Lily)
Canna (Canna Lily)
Fritillaria imperialis (Crown Imperial)
Narcissus (Daffodil, Jonquil)
SHRUBS & TREES
Aronia abutifolia (Chokeberry)
Buddelia (Butterfly Bush)
Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub)
Cedrus (Deodar Cedar)
Cephalotaxus (Japanese Plum Yew)
Chamaecyparis pisifera (Threadleaf Cypress)
Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)
Cornus kousa (Korean Dogwood)
Elaeagnus (Autumn Olive, Russian Olive)
Fagus sylvatica (European Beech)
Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)
Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)
Hypericum (St. Johnswort)
Ilex crenata (Japanese Holly)
Ilex glabra (Inkberry)
Ilex opaca (American Holly)
Juniperus chinensis (Juniper)
Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)
Kerria japonica (Japanese Kerria)
Leucothoe fontanesiana (Drooping Leucothoe)
Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum)
Magnolia (tree type – Saucer Magnolia)
Magnolia (shrub type)
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grapeholly)
Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum)
Picea (Spruce Tree)
Picea (Spruce shrub)
Pieris japonica (Japanese Andromeda)
Pinus (Pine Tree)
Pinus muhgo (Pine Shrub)
Psuedotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)
Rosmarinus officianalis (Creeping Rosemary)
Salix (Willow Tree)
Salix (Willow Shrub)
Sarcococca (Sweet Box)
Symphoricarpos spp. (Snowberry, Coralberry)
Syringa vulgaris (Lilac)
Viburnum (Snowball Bush)
Vitex (Chaste Tree)