Deer Resistant Perennials

White tailed deer are beautiful animals, graceful and elegant when still or in motion.  But, to a farmer, they can be a significant financial problem; to a motorist they can pose serious danger; and to a flower gardener they can be destructive pests.


This is a problem humans have created.  Deer thrive in “edge habitats,” places where different types of vegetation meet.  “Edges” offer food, cover, travel paths and easy escape routes.  Suburban landscapes are perfect “edge habitats” and also provide the bonus of well-watered, well-fertilized banquet tables of flowers and plants. How is a gardener to cope with these adversaries?  A blend of deer-resistant plantings can all help to maintain some semblance of a garden.  Deer-resistant planting is as inexact science at best.  There are few hard-and-fast rules because deer behavior and taste preferences vary from place to place, and even season to season.  The following plant tips should be considered when dealing with deer in the garden.


Deer do not like flowers and plants with a spicy taste.


Aromatic foliages are usually ignored.


Plants with fuzzy foliage such as Lamb’s Ear are usually passed by.


Various plants, such as Monkshood and Digitalis, are poisonous to deer.


Avoid using spring bulbs; with the exception of daffodils and alliums, they are considered a ‘delicacy’ by most deer.


Plants with needles or spines, such as spruce, holly, and barberry are usually passed by


. The following is a list of perennials most likely avoided by deer.  Remember, deer will eat these plants if no other food is available in the area.


Achillea – Yarrow


Aconitum – Monkshood


Anaphalis – Pearly Everlasting


Anchusa – Bugloss


Anemone japonica – Japanese Anemone


Artemesia – Wormwood


Aruncus – Goatsbeard


Asclepias – Butterfly Weed


Astilbe – False Spirea


Campanula spp. – Bellflower


Centaurea Montana – Bachelor Buttons


Cimicifuga – Bugbane


Convallaria – Lily of the Valley


Delphinium – Larkspur


Dicentra spp. – Bleeding Heart


Digitalis – Foxglove


Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower


Erigeron – Fleabane Daisy


Euphorbia spp. – Spurge


Gypdophilia spp. – Baby’s Breath


Geranium spp. – Cranesbill


Helianthus spp. – Perennial Sunflower


Iris spp. – Iris varieties


Kniphofia – Red Hot Poker


Lavendula – Lavender


Liatris – Gayfeather


Lychnis – Maltese Cross


Macleaya – Plume Poppy


Monarda – Bee Balm


Paeonia – Peony


Penstemon – Bearded Tongue


Perovskia – Russian Sage


Phlox Subulata – Creeping Phlox


Polemonium spp. – Jacob’s Ladder


Salvia spp. – Hardy Sage


Stachys lanata – Lamb’s Ear


Stokesia – Stoke’s Aster


Tanacetum – Painted Daisy


Thalictrum – Meadow Rue


Tradescantia – Spiderwort


Trollius – Globeflower


Verbena spp. – Verbena varieties