15 Deer-Resistant Annuals to Keep Your Garden Safe

A cluster of mixed cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus)

David Burton / Getty Images

It's pretty exciting seeing timid deer come by your property. But that delight can turn to disappointment if they start nibbling on your carefully cultivated plants. Thankfully, there are lots of easy-to-grow deer-resistant annuals to provide a fast-growing, long-blooming pop of color. And, even though these plants won't usually live longer than a year, many annuals readily reseed, so you'll find more appearing next season.

While no plants are definitively deer-proof, many are much more deer-resistant than others. Check out this list of carefully curated, popular deer-resistant annuals that experts rate as rarely damaged by deer.

  • 01 of 15

    Sweet Alyssum

    Close up of purple and white sweet alyssum flowers

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    If you're looking for pretty, fragrant heirloom flowers that are a perfect fit for a cottage garden, look no further than sweet alyssum. Deer won't graze on these hardy annuals or short-lived perennials, which form a ground-hugging carpet of blooms. Flowering in spring, the blooms fade in summer and reappear in fall. And, providing they get enough sun and moisture, these easy outdoor plants thrive with little to no maintenance.

    • Name: Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9
    • Flower Color: White, pink, purple
    • Light: Full or partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained
    • Mature Size: 3–10 in. tall, 2–4 in. wide
    Continue to 2 of 15 below.
  • 02 of 15


    Bachelor's buttons or cornflowers in a wild meadow

    The Spruce / Letí­cia Almeida 

    Cornflowers (also known as bachelor's buttons) are ideal cool season annuals with dainty, colorful flowers. These plants bloom from mid-summer into the cooler fall temperatures, providing you deadhead spent flowers. Their easy-growing wildflowers reseed rapidly, so you should have a beautiful new cluster of cornflowers yearly.

    • Name: Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11
    • Flower Color: Blue, purple, pink, white, red
    • Light: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 12–48 in. tall, 10–12 in. wide
    Continue to 3 of 15 below.
  • 03 of 15

    California Poppy

    Close up of California poppies blooming
    Elvira Laskowski / Getty Images

    The California poppy is a striking orange flower that grows as a perennial in its native zone. It makes for a pretty annual that happily reseeds in cooler regions. Impervious to grazing deer, these plants need plenty of sun and loose, well-draining soil to thrive. You can enjoy the blooms from late spring to early summer, and deadheading spent flowers encourages a longer bloom period.

    • Name: California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6-10
    • Flower color: Orange, yellow, red, pink, white
    • Light: Full
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 12–18 in. tall and wide
    Continue to 4 of 15 below.
  • 04 of 15

    Annual Vinca

    Close up of pink flowers of the annual vinca

    Penpak Ngamsathain / Getty Images

    Annual vinca is a rabbit-proof plant as well as one that deer aren't fans of. Pick a sunny spot to appreciate the blooms of this fast-growing plant from early summer to fall. There's no deadheading needed with this self-cleaning species, and the trailing ground cover is a great choice as a spiller plant for container gardens. Just keep it away from your four-legged friends; annual vinca is toxic to people and pets.

    • Name: Annual vinca (Catharanthus roseus)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11
    • Flower Color: White, pink, mauve, red
    • Light: Full sun, part shade
    • Soil Needs: Sandy loam
    • Mature: 6-18 in. tall, similar spread
    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15


    Close up of orange calendula blooms

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Calendula is an easy annual to grow from seed after the last spring frosts, and its bright, daisy-like blooms appear in abundance within six to eight weeks after sowing. Pinch back young plants to prevent leggy growth and deadhead to encourage more blooms. Other than that, offer a rich, well-draining soil and enjoy.

    • Name: Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11
    • Flower Color: Yellow, orange, red, white, pink
    • Light: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide
    Continue to 6 of 15 below.
  • 06 of 15


    Close up of the light pink and white blooms of the snapdragon

    aimintang / Getty Images

    You can enjoy the classic, colorful beauty of tall snapdragons from spring to fall, although they stop blooming when temperatures soar in summer. Perfect plants for attracting hummingbirds to your yard, pinch young stem tips and deadhead spent blooms to maximize their flowering time. A sunny spot and regular watering will see your snapdragons thrive.

    • Name: Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-11
    • Flower Color: White, yellow, pink, red, orange, purple
    • Light: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-draining
    • Mature Size: 6–48 in. tall, 6–12 in. wide
    Continue to 7 of 15 below.
  • 07 of 15

    Spider Flower

    ummer flowering purple Cleome flower in soft sunshine, commonly known as spider flower

    Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

    Looking for annual flowers to grow in dry shade? Look no further than deer-resistant spider flowers. Perfect as a tall focal point in your garden border, the bright blooms of these plants draw pollinators to your yard. You don't have to stake this statuesque species when grown in a sunny spot. In a partial shade location, it might need some extra support.

    • Name: Spider flower (Cleome spp.)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-11
    • Flower Color: White, pink, lavender, rose
    • Light: Full sun, part sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 1.5-5 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide
    Continue to 8 of 15 below.
  • 08 of 15


    Borage flowers close up (Borago officinalis)

    naturaltexture / Getty Images

    Starflowers make for great companion plants to grow alongside tomatoes. They aren't just deer-resistant; they're plants that repel the insect tomato hornworm, which can decimate your tomato harvest. And their vivid blue blooms and fresh cucumber-like fragrance are a welcome addition to any landscape. Grow in a sunny spot to promote abundant blooming throughout summer and strong stems. These plants are toxic to people and pets.

    • Name: Starflower (Borago officinalis)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11
    • Flower Color: Blue
    • Light: Full sun, partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    • Mature Size: 1-3 ft. tall, 9-18 in. wide
    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15


    Selective focus of bright yellow dill blooming in a summer garden

    Cyndi Monaghan / Getty Images

    Dill is a fantastic deer-resistant herb to grow in your yard. The ornamental feathery foliage, appealing fragrance, and clusters of tiny yellow flowers mean it's more than just a culinary herb. Pick a sunny spot with rich, loose, and well-draining soil to enjoy late summer and early fall blooms.

    • Name: Dill (Anethum graveolens)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11
    • Flower Color: Yellow
    • Light: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 3-5 ft. tall, 2-3 ft. wide
    Continue to 10 of 15 below.
  • 10 of 15


    A big cluster of large, majestic bright yellow Marigold flowers in full bloom

    Ravinder Kumar / Getty Images

    You can't go wrong with easy-to-grow, bright-blooming marigolds when you're searching for deer-resistant annuals for your yard. Their preference is for a full sun position with weekly watering. If you offer this, they have a long bloom period, providing you deadhead spent flowers. There are many marigold species to choose from, depending on the size and color you want for your space.

    • Name: Marigold (Tagetes spp.)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11
    • Flower Color: Yellow, orange, white, red, gold, bicolor
    • Light: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 4–48 in. tall, 6–24 in. wide
    Continue to 11 of 15 below.
  • 11 of 15


    The flowers of the tropical plant Lantana camara, also known as Spanish Flag or West Indian Lantana

    stockcam / Getty Images

    There are many reasons to love the deer-resistant shrub lantana. The bright flowers of this pollinator-friendly annual bloom year-round when the climate is mild enough, and their salt tolerance makes them popular in coastal landscaping. They flourish in bright spots and, although they are drought-tolerant, even moisture is best to promote abundant blooms. It's best to keep these plants away from your cats and canines, as lantana is toxic to people and pets.

    • Name: Lantana (Lantana camara)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-11
    • Flower Color: Mix of red, orange, yellow, blue, white, pink
    • Light: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    • Mature Size: 6 ft. high and wide (as a perennial)
    Continue to 12 of 15 below.
  • 12 of 15


    Close up of the blue flowers of the blue cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinali)

    Boris SV / Getty Images

    Lobelias are tender perennials mostly grown as annuals in the U.S. This deer-resistant ground cover results in a swathe of attractive, brightly colored small blooms carpeting your landscape. With a long summer-to-fall bloom period, these plants are popular with pollinators. Lobelias are a low-maintenance landscaping option that appreciate rich, well-drained soil and even moisture.

    • Name: Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-11
    • Flower Color: Blue, pink, purple, white, red
    • Light: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained
    • Mature Size: 6-9 in. tall, 9-10 in. wide
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Stock flower

    Vibrant colors of the Stock flowers

    Debora Truax / Getty Images

    Tall stock flowers are a cottage garden favorite. There are many colors to choose from with these long-lasting, edible blooms, and their delicate fragrance is an added bonus. In most regions of the U.S., these are biennial plants or half-hardy annuals, living for two years and flowering in their second year. Low-maintenance stock flowers can grow in full sun or partial shade, and they appreciate rich, well-draining soil.

    • Name: Stock flower (Matthiola incana)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-10
    • Flower Color: Pink, apricot, purple, blue, white
    • Light: Full sun, part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 12-36 in. tall
    Continue to 14 of 15 below.
  • 14 of 15


    Cluster of purple Verbena x hybrida

    Jobrestful / Getty Images

    Verbenas are ideal deer-resistant annuals for growing in full sun. Continuously blooming with small star-shaped flowers from early summer to fall, they add a splash of bright color and lure in beneficial pollinators. Depending on the species, they have trailing, mounding, or upright habits, so you can find one for just about any spot in your yard. All they need is access to bright sun and evenly moist soils to thrive. Lemon verbena and several other species are toxic to pets.

    • Name: Verbena (Verbena x hybrida)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-11
    • Flower Color: White, red, purple, pink, lavender, bi-colored
    • Light: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 9–12 in. tall, 12–18 in. wide
    Continue to 15 of 15 below.
  • 15 of 15


    Swallowtail Butterfly in Colorful Field of Red and Pink Zinnia Flowers

    Marcia Straub / Getty Images

    There are many deer-resistant species of easy-growing zinnias to choose from. No matter what color or size you want, there's sure to be one that fits your landscape. From the tall Zinnia elegans for the back of borders to the small 'Thumbelina' series for growing in petite patio containers, providing you offer a sunny spot, they'll cope with pretty much any conditions you throw at them.

    • Name: Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11
    • Flower Color: Various
    • Light: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    • Mature Size: 6 in.-3 ft. tall (depending on the species)
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Landscape plants rated by deer resistance. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

  2. Catharanthus roseus. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.

  3. Borago Officinalis. North Carolina State Extension.

  4. Lantana camara. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.

  5. Lemon verbena. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.