A State-by-State Guide to Deer Resistant Plants

Why the Bucks Don't Stop Here

Fallow deer doe (female) with oak tree branch
James Warwick/The Image bank/Getty Images

If there's one thing we have in common as gardeners, it's the need to ward off unwelcome wildlife. For many, that means deer. If the best defense is a good offense, then it makes sense to start by choosing deer resistant plants.

Plants Deer Like to Eat

Deer love narrow-leaf evergreens, especially arborvitae and fir, and show a preference for hostas, daylilies, and English ivy. The heaviest garden browsing is from October through February.

Many growers note that deer seem to prefer plants that have been fertilized.

Plants Deer Do Not Like to Eat (Usually)

Bear in mind that the first rule of deer-proofing is that there are really no plants that are completely deer-proof. Nevertheless, here are plants that deer (usually) do not like to eat:

  • Deer tend to stay away from poisonous plants. Daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies are common flowers that have a toxicity that deer avoid.
  • Deer turn their noses up at fragrant plants with strong scents. Herbs such as sages, ornamental salvias, lavenders, peonies, and bearded irises are among these “stinky” plants.
  • Deer do not like plants that are prickly (unless they’re desperate), such as lamb’s ear.
  • Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are popular with us, but not deer.

A State by State Resource for Deer-Resistant Plants

Just about every Extension Service has put together a list of plants that are generally less popular with visiting deer.

Unfortunately, no one can claim a plant is totally deer resistant - it seems the deer themselves do not read these lists.

Arizona

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Georgia

Iowa

Missouri

Maryland

Montana

  • Minimizing Deer Damage
    Montana State University Extension Service

New Jersey / Pennsylvania

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

Texas

    Vermont

    Washington

    West Virginia