31 Best-Deer Resistant Flowers and Plants to Grow

Varieties that deer are likely to avoid

Bleeding heart plant with small fuchsia-colored and heart-shaped flower vines between leaves closeup

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Deer damage to home landscape plants has become a major issue to many suburban and urban gardeners. Deer grazing is causing more and more homeowners to seek deer-resistant flowers and plants to avoid the headache of their plants and shrubs being consumed or destroyed by deer. The animals are becoming more prevalent in home landscapes due to human encroachment, extreme weather conditions, and loss of territory. Thus, they are forced to search for the soft and delicious vegetation found in home landscapes.

Many methods can be used in an attempt to keep deer away from your plants, but many of these solutions are ineffective, expensive, or distasteful enough to deter the gardener as much as the deer. If it has become impossible to keep deer away from your treasured plants, what you can do is to plant annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs that deer are not likely to eat.

However, no plant is 100 percent guaranteed to be deer-resistant; mature deer will eat almost anything if they are hungry enough, even thorny rose bushes. Fawns might taste any plant to determine if they like its taste. If many young deer are browsing in your area, you might see damage on a plant that is rated to be deer resistant.

Lavender, poppy, daffodil, vinca, coneflower, iris, verbena, and bleeding heart are among the spring and summer plants that deer tend to ignore. Some flowering shrubs that deer are not likely to eat are Japanese skimmia, leatherleaf mahonia, and daphne.

Flowers and foliage that keep away deer are often fragrant, toxic, or have a rough or odd texture. Deer dislike the fragrance of marigold, sage, and lavender and tend not to eat them but if you have fragrant magnolias, shelter them from deer because they might eat magnolia blooms despite their strong fragrance.

Read on for descriptions of many more deer-resistant seasonal plant options home landscapes.


As you plan your garden, look carefully at the sun and soil requirements for each of these plants. There's a good chance you'll be able to create a somewhat deer-proof garden that will bloom from early spring to late summer.

  • 01 of 31

    Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

    Bleeding heart plant with pink heart-shaped flowers hanging off stems closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    With its delicate ferny foliage and pretty heart-shaped flowers that dangle from graceful, arching stems, bleeding hearts might look like a menu item for deer. However, neither deer, rabbits, nor heavy shade deters the spring blossom show of these old-fashioned favorites. Shade-loving woodland plants bloom in the cool of spring; a bleeding heart will go dormant if exposed to too much sun or heat.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white
    • Sun Exposure: Shade to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich and moist
  • 02 of 31

    Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

    Coneflower plants with pink flowers and orange centers in garden

     The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Coneflower attracts butterflies, nourishes bees and wild birds, self-seeds in a non-aggressive way, and grows in the sun or partial shade. Is there anything this versatile plant cannot do? The new varieties of coneflowers on the market make it a designer's delight. Coneflowers bloom longer than many other perennial plants, making them an excellent choice for perennial gardens. They tolerate heat and drought conditions quite well.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Purple, white, pink, lavender, red, yellow, orange
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained fertile soil high in organic matter
  • 03 of 31


    Corydalis plant with long yellow tube-like flowers surrounded by fern-like foliage

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Not your average shade garden plant, the corydalis is noteworthy for its beautiful fern-like foliage and long blooming period. Their blooms are yellow or blue. Gardeners in areas with cool summers will have the best luck growing corydalis. Corydalis can become a somewhat aggressive self-sower when planted in favorable conditions. 

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Blue, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Part to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, humus-rich, consistently moist soil 
  • 04 of 31

    Coreopsis (Coreopsis)

    Coreopsis flowers with yellow petals clustered together off stem in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Deer seldom browse lanceleaf coreopsis plants; they rarely receive a nibble by passing deer. Coreopsis is easy to grow because it is drought-tolerant and needs no fertilizing. Deadheading spent blooms can encourage more flowers throughout the summer.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange, pink, red, maroon
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-draining, sandy soil
    Continue to 5 of 31 below.
  • 05 of 31

    Daffodil (Narcissus)

    White daffodil flowers with yellow centers surrounded by long leaves in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    On the spring bulb spectrum, daffodils and tulips are on opposite ends. Deer do not care for the daffodil's milky sap, nor do squirrels or rabbits. Daffodils have the added benefit of multiplying over the years, unlike tulips, which tend to dwindle in number each season. New exciting double forms and pinky-salmon colors make daffodils an essential part of any spring deer-proof garden.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, white, orange, apricot, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well drained
  • 06 of 31

    Lavender (Lavandula)

    Lavender plant with small purple flowers on end of thin stems clustered together with bee on top

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    What delights the olfactory senses of people is loathed by deer. Both the lavender foliage and blooms emit the sweet perfume so beloved by potpourri makers. In warmer climates, lavender can be grown into fragrant hedges; they struggle a bit in cooler temperatures. In either case, lavender is not a long-lived perennial plant.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Purple, violet-blue, rose, pale pink, white, and yellow (rare)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-draining soil, preferably sandy
  • 07 of 31

    Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis)

    Lungwort plant with white freckled leaves and small pink and purple funnel-shaped flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    With their quirky name and freckled foliage, Pulmonaria plants are an unsung hero of the shade garden. These low-maintenance plants not only repel deer but also grow in the dense shade of walnut trees with no signs of the juglone toxicity that plague other shade lovers like azaleas. They are among the earliest plants to bloom in the spring. 'Raspberry Splash' is a common cultivar reportedly resistant to powdery mildew as well. 

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Brilliant blue, pink, and white
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Organically rich, well-drained, moist soil
  • 08 of 31

    Poppy (Papaver rhoeas L.)

    Poppy plant with white flowers tipped with light pink surrounded by thin drooping stems

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    The legend and mystique of the poppy plant cause some gardeners trepidation about including it in a flower bed. However, poppies are easy to grow from seed and bloom for about two weeks. In addition, many poppies also have ornamental seed pods that endure for weeks afterward. The toxicity of the poppy plant causes deer to steer clear.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9, depending on the variety
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, red, orange, yellow, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average well-drained soil


    Poppies are toxic if consumed. Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

    Continue to 9 of 31 below.
  • 09 of 31

    Vinca (Cartharanthus)

    Vinca plant with purple flowers surrounded by dark green and leathery leaves in garden hedge

    The Spruce / Lacey Johnson

    Vinca, also known as the Madagascar periwinkle, sounds like an exotic hothouse flower, but this hardworking annual shrugs off deer, rabbits, and drought with its glossy green foliage. Whether you need reliable bedding plants, something for the container garden, or a showy edging plant, vinca will fill all these plant niches. Expect your vinca plants to flower from late spring until frost, although flowering is more abundant in hot weather. Provide a balanced flower fertilizer every other week. It does not require deadheading.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, red, purple, many shades of pink, peach, and lavender; comes in solid colors or with a contrasting eye
    • Sun Exposure: Full or part sun
    • Soil Needs: Average well-drained soil
  • 10 of 31

    Winter Aconite (Eranthus hyemalis)

    Winter aconite plant with bright yellow flowers and radiating leaves underneath closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    In mid to late winter, the bright yellow flowers of winter aconite push their way up through the snow. You can plant these harbingers of spring with abandon along paths and open woodland areas because deer will pass them by. In the fall, plant winter aconite tubers three inches deep after soaking the tubers in water to wake them from dormancy. Winter aconite is an excellent choice to plant under deciduous trees, areas that are sunny in winter but shady in summer. If your winter aconite patch receives regular irrigation, you will enjoy an ever-enlarging naturalized collection of these blooms. 

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Bright yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun in winter, shade in summer
    • Soil Needs: Organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils
  • 11 of 31

    Astilbe (Astilbe spp.)

    Astilbe plant with pink plume-like flowers in shade garden

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    These clumping perennials in the Saxifragaceae family prefer a moist, shady spot. Astilbe produces tall, upright stems up to three feet tall with fern-like foliage that is tender in bright sun. It blooms in late spring with pink, red, purple, or white plumes of flowers about six inches to two feet long. The plant attracts butterflies but is resistant to nibblers like rabbits and deer. 

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist
  • 12 of 31

    Liatris (Liatris spicata)

    liatris flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Liatris is a sun-loving herbaceous perennial also called a blazing star for its unusual tiny star-like blossoms on the end of long spikes. It is a wildflower native to the U.S., blooming from July to late fall. The primary species is bright purple but comes in pink and white cultivars. It attracts birds, bees, and butterflies, but deer seem to pass it by.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Purple, pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 31 below.
  • 13 of 31

    'May Night' Salvia (Salvia x superba)

    closeup of may night salvia

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    'May night' salvia is also known woodland sage. They are herbaceous perennials in the mint family with small flowers on spikes that reach up to two feet tall. Its lance-shaped leaves have culinary uses, but deer do not favor them due to their fragrance. When deadheaded, it blooms from May throughout the entire summer.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Dark purplish-blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 14 of 31

    Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum)

    Shasta daisy with radiating white petals and yellow centers clustered together

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Shasta daisies are cheerful white-petaled flowers with yellow centers and deep green foliage. They are loved by pollinators but are usually passed over by deer. Once established, they are vigorous growers and spread easily. Shasta daisies prefer rich, fertile soil but can also grow in poor soil. These plants are also drought, pest, and disease resistant.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White or pale yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist but well-drained
  • 15 of 31

    Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

    Lily of the valley petite white flowers on single stems surrounded my medium green leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Lily of the valley is not a lily but is a member of the asparagus family. Its leaves look lily-like, with delicate, fragrant bell-shaped blooms in spring and orange-red berries in fall. This ground cover spreads gradually and forms dense colonies. All parts of this plant are poisonous to humans and animals because they contain glycosides.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 16 of 31

    Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

    Butterfly bush with full and sparse purple flower spikes

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Butterfly bush is a deciduous shrub that produces impressive floral spikes or floral clusters that come in a wide range of colors, attracting pollinators but detracting deer. Some of these shrubs can grow up to 12 feet tall, while others are compact. This plant hails from Asia and self-seeds readily. It is considered an aggressive weed in some regions.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Purple, pink, lavender, blue, white, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
    Continue to 17 of 31 below.
  • 17 of 31

    Marigold (Tagetes spp.)

    Mexican marigold with orange flowers and buds

    The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

    Marigolds are richly colored annuals reliably blooming in yellow, gold, and coppery colors with fern-like, serrated foliage. These plants are fast-growing, achieving blooms within a few months when planted from seed. Their fragrance keeps deer and rabbits away.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange, white, red, gold, bicolor
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 18 of 31

    Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

    'Helios Flame' sunflowers with radiating yellow and red petals in sunlight

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Sunflowers are annuals in the aster family that bloom mid-summer and continue through early fall. Its large flowers can grow up to six or more inches wide with a prominent central disk that when mature produce hundreds of seeds that birds adore. Sunflowers grow on a hairy, sturdy, upright stem that can be several feet tall, depending on variety. Deer shun the plant's rough leaves.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Shades of yellow, gold, orange, cream, maroon, mahogany; bicolor or solid
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 19 of 31

    Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)


    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Foxglove is a tall, flowering plant with eye-catching, tubular blooms that come in pink, white, or purple. It is a fast-growing plant that can grow up to 5 feet tall. This biennial produces foliage in its first year, and giant flower stalks the second year before it dies. Foxgloves are self-seeding, continuing to proliferate in a patch year after year. All parts of this plant are toxic to humans and animals. Deer tend to steer clear of toxic plants.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Pink, purple, red, white, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 20 of 31

    Heliotrope (Heliotropium)

    Heliotrope arborescens with purple flowers and leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Heliotrope is a genus of flowering plants in the Boraginaceae family with stunning, fragrant flowers. These plants are sun-lovers that turn to follow the sun. Deer don't like the scent or the rough, sandpaper-textured leaves. They are perennial in warmer zones but are frost-tender and grown as annuals in cooler zones. Deadheading will encourage more blooms and bushy, denser growth. 

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: perennial in zones 9 to 11; annual elsewhere
    • Color Varieties: White, lavender, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    Continue to 21 of 31 below.
  • 21 of 31

    Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

    group of zinnias in a garden

    ​The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Zinnias grow are perennial in warm climates, and are grown as annuals elsewhere. They require little care, although powdery mildew can be a problem if plants are not well spaced to allow enough air circulation. These brightly colored annuals feature flat flower heads blooming all summer up through the fall. Deadheading spent flowers encourages more blooms. Varieties can be compact or tall (up to 4 feet high). The rough-textured leaves usually prevent deer from nibbling.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White, lavender, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 22 of 31

    Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)


    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is a member of the olive (Oleaceae) family and is a low-maintenance landscaping plant with a strong fragrance and abundant flower clusters in many colors. Deer tend to avoid common lilac, but young plants are vulnerable just after planting. The plant can survive and regrow if the root system is not damaged.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Lavender, purple, white, pink, magenta
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained, loamy, sandy, clay
  • 23 of 31

    Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)

    forsythia bush

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Forsythias are fast-growing deciduous flowering shrubs in the olive family. These early-spring bloomers are low-maintenance shrubs that flower before they leaf out. Compact forsythia varieties grow a few feet tall, while larger varieties can reach up to ten feet tall. Deer rarely nibble on these, but every plant that's not toxic is fair game to a starving deer.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 24 of 31

    Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

    rose of sharon

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a deciduous hibiscus species that produces showy five-petal blooms with a prominent stamen often with a contrasting dark-colored throat. It can be planted in the spring or fall, growing about one to two feet per year. It flowers in the summer and fall. This shrub is tolerant of urban conditions, heat, humidity, poor soil, and drought. Rutgers University rates this plant as "seldom severely damaged" by deer.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, purple, lavender, red, peach, orange, bluish-lavender, white; often with dark throats
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
    Continue to 25 of 31 below.
  • 25 of 31

    Floss Flower (Ageratum)

    Blue ageratum with blue flowers and bees

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Ageratum, commonly known as floss flower, is in the aster family. This annual blooms late spring through the first frost of fall. Some varieties grow up to 30 inches tall. Floss flower comes in several colors but is prized for their periwinkle blue coloring. Ageratum grows best in sunny locations in moist, well-draining soil. They will tolerate periods of dryness but will perform best if regularly watered. The rough-texture foliage of floss flower keeps deer at bay.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Purplish blue, periwinkle blue, pink and white
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 26 of 31

    Verbena (Verbena spp.)

    tall verbena

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  

    Common garden verbena is prized by pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, but you shouldn't have to worry about deer eating this plant. Tall verbena, (Verbena bonariensis) pictured here, is also deer resistant. Verbena varieties are hardy perennials in zones 8 to 11 but are commonly grown as annuals. They produce clusters of colorful flowers that bloom continuously from spring to fall. Deadhead common garden verbena during the growing season to encourage new blooms and extend the blooming season.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White, red, purple, pink, lavender, bi-colored
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 27 of 31

    Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

    Snapdragon flowers
    Ian Lee/flickr/CC By 2.0

    Snapdragons are short-lived garden perennials in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11, and are grown as cool-weather annuals in other climates. They come in wide varieties and sizes, from a few inches tall to spires approaching four feet tall.

    Snapdragons blooms are available in many colors (almost every hue) and prefer the cooler weather in spring and fall. Flower production slows down once the temperatures heat up. Snapdragons are considered "rarely damaged" by deer, according to Rutgers University.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White, yellow, pink, red, orange, peach, purple, violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 28 of 31

    Bee Balm (Monarda spp.)

    Bee balm plant with vibrant red flower heads on thin stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Bee balm is a North American wildflower member of the mint family with bright, vibrant flowers and a long bloom season. Bee balm is a somewhat weedy plant growing up to four feet tall, with downy oval leaves on the undersides. They tend to spread aggressively through underground rhizomes and self-seeding. The flowers look like colorful hairy clusters that attract bees, butterflies, and are a favorite of hummingbirds. However, its scent repels deer.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Red, purple, pink, white, lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist
    Continue to 29 of 31 below.
  • 29 of 31

    Monkshood (Aconitum napellus)

    Monk's hood flower

    ​The Spruce / Autumn Wood 

    Native to Europe and Asia, monkshood is a tall herbaceous perennial plant that blooms late in the summer and fall and handles partial shade very well. This slow grower is named for resembling the cowl on a monk's habit. It produces racemes of azure blue, pink, yellow, or white flowers on sturdy, unbranched stems. It needs plenty of water to thrive. This plant is toxic and is likely the reason why deer shun it.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, white, yellow, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 30 of 31

    Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)


    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The bearded iris (Iris germanica) is one of the most popular irises that is among the easiest to grow. It has sword-like leaves and flowers with spreading or drooping lobes. The bearded iris usually flowers in its first year, preferring well-draining soil and a sunny spot. Its rhizome must be partially exposed to sunlight in order for the plant to flower. These plants are toxic to humans, dogs, cats, and horses. It's likely the flower fragrance and perhaps the sharp foliage that keeps deer away.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, brown, white, pink, and many bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 31 of 31

    Peonies (Paeonia officinalis)

    'Red Charm' peony bushes with large red blossoms and buds

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Peonies are one of the longest-lived garden plants, sometimes handed down from generation to generation of gardeners. Their blooms are fluffy, full, ruffled or single. These top-heavy flowers often need staking and shelter from winds so they don't flop and bend. They have a strong scent that deer don't like, keeping them away. Peonies are toxic to animals and humans.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, rose, red, deep purple, and coral
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
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. Berle, David Christian. “Deer-Tolerant Ornamental Plants.” Uga.edu, Feb. 2013.

  2. Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance. Rutgers.edu

  3. Black Walnut ToxicityWisconsin Horticulture

  4. Poppies. University of California

  5. Plants. California Poison Control System (CPCS).

  6. Salvia ‘May Night’ chosen as 1997 Perennial Plant of the Year. Purdue University

  7. Convallaria Majalis - Plant Finder. Missouribotanicalgarden.org

  8. Verbena × Hybrida - Plant Finder. Missouribotanicalgarden.org

  9. Verbena Bonariensis - Plant Finder. Missouribotanicalgarden.org

  10. Iris x germanica. North Carolina State Extension Office