By Ryan Dorn,

Deer: elegant, graceful, and mesmerizing to watch as they leap and wander through the wild. But for gardeners, they can pose a not-so-enchanting problem. While their presence might add a touch of woodland charm to your landscape, their appetite for your carefully cultivated plants can turn a once-thriving garden into a buffet of destruction.

You've tended to your garden with love and care, selecting flowers for their beauty, fragrance, and the joy they bring. The last thing you want is to find them nibbled to the ground by these majestic yet voracious creatures.

So, how do you maintain a vibrant garden that coexists with nature without becoming a free dining spot for the local deer population? The answer lies in choosing the right plants—those that are as appealing to humans as they are unappetizing to deer.

Join us as we explore the world of deer-resistant plants, delving into the reasons why deer are attracted to certain flowers and the savvy selections you can make to deter them. From the classic to the unique, the fragrant to the tactile, we'll guide you through 30 plants that can make your garden a deer-free zone without sacrificing beauty or charm.

Deer Eating Dandelions - Southern Seed Exchange

Keeping the Deer at Bay: How to Deter Them from Eating Flowers

Keeping deer away from your garden doesn't have to be a constant struggle. By understanding what attracts them and implementing a well-rounded strategy, you can create a beautiful garden that remains untouched by these graceful foragers. Here's a three-point strategy to help you achieve that balance:

1. Select Deer-Resistant Plants:

The first line of defense in your deer deterrent strategy is selecting plants that are naturally unappealing to deer. Many plants contain strong scents or flavors that deer find unappetizing. Others may have fuzzy or prickly leaves that are unpleasant to chew. In this article, we'll introduce you to 30 fantastic options to consider, each with its unique deer-repelling characteristics.

2. Implement Physical Barriers & Deterrents:

While deer-resistant plants that deter deer is the first step in protecting your garden, combining them with physical barriers can add an extra layer of protection. Consider installing fences or netting around particularly vulnerable areas of your garden. Fences need to be tall—usually at least 6-8 feet—since deer are excellent jumpers. Alternatively, you might consider using a double fence  or "invisible" deer netting, which confuses deer and makes it difficult for them to jump over them. In addition, motion activated sprinklers which deliver a burst of water in the direction of detected motion and motion activated LED flashing lights can be effective as well at scaring off not just deer, but other pests as well.

Deer Jumping Fence - Southern Seed Exchange

3. Utilize Deer Deterrent Sprays and Scents:

Commercially available deer deterrent sprays can be a helpful tool in keeping deer away from your prized plants. These sprays often contain odors that mimic predator scents or other smells that deer find offensive. They can be applied directly to the plants or the surrounding area. Some gardeners also have success with homemade concoctions using ingredients like garlic, egg, or hot pepper. Remember, though, that sprays and scents may need to be reapplied after rain or over time as the smell fades.

By combining these three strategies—selecting deer-resistant plants, implementing physical barriers, and utilizing sprays or scents—you'll be well on your way to maintaining a thriving garden that stays off the deer's menu. It's a harmonious approach that respects nature's balance, allowing you to enjoy both the beauty of the deer and the bounty of your garden.

Embracing Nature's Harmony: 30 Deer-Resistant Plants for Your Garden

Deer are enchanting creatures but can be quite a challenge for gardeners as they feast on various plants. Fortunately, nature has provided us with a range of beautiful flowers and herbs that are naturally unappealing to deer. Whether it's the strong scent, unusual texture, or flavors that deer avoid, these 30 deer-resistant plants can help you create a vibrant garden without sacrificing your favorite blooms. Let's explore these remarkable options that allow for a garden thriving in harmony with its wild neighbors.

1. Marigolds

Marigold Flowers - Southern Seed Exchange

Marigolds, with their vibrant orange and yellow hues, not only add color to a garden but also are excellent at keeping deer away. The strong scent that marigolds emit is unpleasant to deer, making them a perfect choice for protecting more susceptible plants in your garden.

2. Verbena (Vervain)

Vervain (Verbena) Purple Top Flowers - Southern Seed Exchange

The stunning Verbena, or Vervain, is another flower that deer tend to avoid. Its towering stalks adorned with small, colorful flowers are not only pleasing to human eyes but also deter deer with their slightly bitter taste.

3. Snapdragons

Snapdragon Tetra Mix Flowers - Southern Seed Exchange

Snapdragons are a classic choice for any gardener looking to keep deer at a distance. Their tall, colorful spikes are a visual delight, but it's the texture of the leaves that turns deer away. The thick and rubbery feel of the snapdragon's foliage makes it unattractive to deer, keeping your garden safe.

4. Ageratum

Ageratum - Floss Flower - Southern Seed Exchange

Ageratum’s soft, fuzzy, blue flowers may look delicate, but they're anything but deer candy. Often called Floss Flower, the scent of Ageratum is not to deer's liking, making them one of the more reliable choices for a deer-resistant garden.

 5. Bee Balm

Bee Balm Flowers - Southern Seed Exchange

Bee Balm is not only loved by pollinators, but also a terrific addition to a deer-resistant garden. Its strong, minty fragrance is generally off-putting to deer, ensuring that these bright red or pink flowers remain untouched.

6. Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh - Bugbane (Cimicifuga ramosa) - Southern Seed Exchange

Known for its tall, white spires of flowers, Black Cohosh is a shade-loving perennial that deer typically avoid. The bitterness of the plant makes it unattractive to deer, allowing you to enjoy its beauty throughout the season. In addition to being deer resistant, Black Cohosh is prized as a medicinal herb.

7. Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller Siverdust (Cineraria Maritima) - 200 Seeds -Southern Seed Exchange

Dusty Miller's unique silver-gray foliage adds contrast to the garden and also keeps deer at bay. The fuzzy texture of the leaves is unpleasant to deer, making Dusty Miller an excellent choice for both visual appeal and deer deterrence.

8. Lamb's Ear

Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) - 50 Seeds - Southern Seed Exchange

The soft and fuzzy texture of Lamb's Ear might be pleasant for human touch, but deer find it quite unpalatable. This perennial is not only beautiful but serves as a great natural barrier against deer.

9. Coneflower

Coneflower, Purple - Echinacea (Echinacea Purpurea) - 100 Seeds - Southern Seed Exchange

Coneflowers are known for their bold appearance and medicinal uses, but their rough texture makes them unattractive to deer. Adding these to your garden will not only create a dramatic visual effect but also help keep those pesky deer away.

10. Lavender

Lavender, Croissant and Wine - Southern Seed Exchange

Lavender's calming fragrance might be a human favorite, but deer find it repulsive. Planting this lovely herb amongst your other flowers can help deter deer and add a wonderful scent to your garden.

11. Yarrow

Yarrow, Golden Parker (Achillea filipendulina Parker) - 100 Seeds - Southern Seed Exchange

Yarrow, with its feathery foliage and bright flowers that come is a wide range of colors, is a beautiful addition that deer usually avoid. Its bitter taste and strong fragrance make it a solid choice for a deer-resistant garden.

12. Blazing Star (Liatris)

Blazing Star, Prairie (Liatris pycnostachya) - 50 Seeds - Southern Seed Exchange

Blazing Star's tall spikes of purple or white flowers not only attract butterflies but deter deer. Their rough texture and the plant's general toughness make it an excellent addition to the deer-resistant list.

13. Shasta Daisy

Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum) - Southern Seed Exchange

Shasta Daisies, with their bright white petals and golden centers, are a joyful presence in any garden. The good news? Deer generally leave them alone. Their simple beauty can thrive in your garden without becoming deer fodder.

14. Sunflower

Field of Sunflowers at Sunset - Southern Seed Exchange

Sunflowers are not just a towering presence in the garden; they also stand strong against deer. The coarse texture of the leaves and stems makes them an undesirable choice for deer, allowing you to enjoy their grandeur.

15. Foxglove

Field of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) Flowers - Southern Seed Exchange

Foxgloves are not only known for their striking appearance, but also for being slightly toxic. Deer seem to recognize this and generally avoid them. Their tall spikes adorned with bell-shaped flowers are a safe and dramatic addition to the garden.

16. Zinnia

Hummingbird Feeding on Orange Zinnia - Southern Seed Exchange

Zinnias, with their wide range of colors and shapes, are a wonderful choice for adding vibrancy to the garden. Deer usually steer clear of them, likely due to their slight bitterness, letting you enjoy their beauty all season long.

17. Lilac

Lilac Flowers Home Arrangement in a Vase - Southern Seed Exchange

Lilacs are famous for their fragrant and beautiful spring blooms. While their scent is pleasing to humans, it's not to deer, making them a great option for a garden seeking protection from these creatures.

18. Rosemary

Bunches of rosemary and thyme with old fashioned scissors. Wood table background.

Rosemary is not only a popular culinary herb, but also an effective deer deterrent. Its strong scent is often too much for deer, allowing you to enjoy both its culinary benefits and its role as a guardian of your garden.

19. Hens & Chicks

Hens & Chicks Succulents - Southern Seed Exchange

Hens & Chicks, with their appealing succulent leaves, are not only a trendy garden addition, but also resistant to deer. Their thick and fleshy texture is generally off-putting to deer, making them a safe and stylish choice.

20. Catnip

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) - 250 Seeds - Southern Seed Exchange

Catnip and its Nepeta cousins such as catmint and lemon catnip are known for their relaxed growth and soft blooms. While cats may love it, deer generally dislike the fragrance, making it an attractive yet effective addition to a deer-resistant garden.

21. Black Eyed Susan

Black eyed Susans with pink flowers in background

The bright, sunny flowers of Black Eyed Susan are a classic garden favorite, and luckily, deer usually ignore them. Their slightly rough texture and foliage can be a natural defense against these garden intruders.

22. New England Aster

Aster, New England (Aster novae-angliae) - Southern Seed Exchange

New England Asters (and most asters in general) bloom in the fall, providing late-season color that deer generally avoid. Their slightly hairy stems and leaves, along with their rich color, make them an excellent addition to a fall garden.

23. Veronica Spiked Speedwell

Veronica Spiked Speedwell, Veronica spicata 'Glory - Southern Seed Exchange

Veronica Spiked Speedwell, with its tall spikes of blue or purple flowers, adds height and drama to the garden. Its texture and mild scent are typically unattractive to deer, preserving its beauty throughout the season.

24. Society Garlic

Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) Flower - Southern Seed Exchange

Society Garlic, with its lovely lavender blooms and garlic-scented leaves, serves a dual purpose in the garden. While offering ornamental value, its strong scent also helps keep deer at bay.

25. Strawflower

Orange colored strawflower - Southern Seed Exchange

Strawflower, known for its papery petals that feel like straw, is a unique and colorful choice that deer often avoid. Its tactile sensation, combined with its vibrant appearance, makes it a fascinating garden addition.

26. Hyssop

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) in the morning light. Southern Seed Exchange.

Hyssop is a fragrant herb with spikes of blue, pink, or white flowers. The scent, which is pleasant to humans, is often off-putting to deer, making it a multipurpose plant for culinary, medicinal and ornamental use.

27. Baby's Breath

Mason jar with baby's breath on a table covered in burlap at a celebration. Southern Seed Exchange.

Baby's Breath is known for its delicate white flowers, often used in bouquets. In the garden, it can stand its ground against deer due to its somewhat bitter taste and scent.

28. Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not (Myosotis) Flowers on a Wooden Background. Southern Seed Exchange.

Forget Me Nots, with their charming blue flowers, are often bypassed by deer. Their hairy leaves and particular scent are not appealing to deer, letting you enjoy their beauty unharmed.

29. Tansy

Yellow Flowering Common Tansy - Southern Seed Exchange

Tansy’s bold yellow flowers and strong scent make it a robust deterrent against deer. Though beautiful, it can be invasive, so planting it in controlled areas can provide both aesthetics and protection.


Closeup of large and small sage leaves on wooden background. Southern Seed Exchange

Sage, another culinary favorite, is wise in the ways of deterring deer. Its strong fragrance and soft, silvery foliage are generally disliked by deer, making it a valuable addition to your garden.

And There You Have It!

Navigating the graceful dance between nature's wild inhabitants and our cultivated gardens doesn't have to be a struggle. By embracing these 30 deer-resistant plants, you open up a world of vibrant colors, intoxicating scents, and unique textures, all while keeping those curious deer at bay.

The garden is a place of joy and serenity, and these plants help you achieve just that, without the constant battle against the local wildlife. From the bright hues of Marigolds to the soothing aroma of Lavender, your garden can blossom into a paradise that both you and the deer can respect and enjoy.

Should you ever find yourself with questions, in need of guidance, or simply curious to know more, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to support your gardening journey and help your garden grow into the haven you envision. After all, nature thrives in harmony, and so can your garden. Happy planting!


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