Deer Resistant Plant List

gcmarcus(Z7/8 SC)June 25, 2004

Does anyone know of a website that has an extensive list of deer resistant plants? I just bought a brand new house and came out to find the newly planted Indian Hawthorns in front of the house, nibbled down to nothing by Deer. They didn't eat the privet, but loved the hawthorn's. I was thinking of Gardenia's, but with how sweet smelling they are, I believe they would be gone in no time as well. Thanks for the help.

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ymeador(Z7 CA)

Hello, there is a link off to the side of the page, but I can tell you from experience (sorry, but so true) you will have to do alot of experimenting on your own and maybe talk to your neighbors and see what is working for them at the moment, I say moment because where I live, just because momma won't eat something doesn't mean baby won't. What they eat one year may change the next year, what they haven't touched for 6 years they now find they love it. Different year, different herd of deer, things will constantly change. The best advice I can give you, is to never get really comfortable with a certain plant, etc and go whole hog on purchases, because of all the above. Experiment and maybe think of a fence of some kind, then maybe you could enjoy some of the plants you would like to have.
Best of luck

    Bookmark   June 25, 2004 at 8:43PM
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I can sympathize. We just went out to the house we are closing on tomorrow and found all the hostas in the back yard nibbled down to stubs! Will they come back? We intend to fence the back yard. Maybe that will at least make it a little more difficult for them.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 9:58PM
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Here's the site I have used for advice on deer resistance of plants. It kept me from wasting money on azaleas for the "deer side" of my house. So far the plants I did use there have been investigated by the deer, judging by the tracks, but nothing has been damaged. I used lots of salvias of various kinds, plants with pungent or rough leaves, spiny plants, sedums. I'm going to add some bearded irises, which have been fairly deer proof. All the deer candy, like roses and hostas, are in the fenced areas.

Hope this helps!


Here is a link that might be useful: deer resistance of plants

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 2:26PM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

they do not eat mountain laurel, lilac, beautyberry, weigela, spirea, mockorange, caryopteris, fig, dogwood or doublefile viburnum in my yard. Hellebore can have the presence of a small shrub.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 7:33PM
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For certain foxglove, snap dragons, clematis, lily of the valley, crocosmia, columbine, peonies, poppies, yarrow, siberian and japanese iris, allium.

Here is a link that might be useful: deer resistant plants

    Bookmark   July 3, 2004 at 2:05AM
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sauna(6 nw arkansas)

we have white tail deer...we live in town and i think they are is what they leave alone here...always...won't post the sometimes nibbled or once in awhile disappearing plants...

sweet woodruff
elephant ears
bee balms
grape hyacith
star of bethlehem
most culinary herbs including parsley
allium bulbs
ground phlox
rose of sharon
crepe myrtle
japenese maple (well, it has been nibbled)
native ginger
trumpet vine
catnips or catmints
lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon anything it seems
vinca minor and major
hope that's a start

    Bookmark   July 5, 2004 at 1:27AM
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GardenBaby(z6b NVA)

My mom lives in deer central (central WV - they can't even be shooed out of the backyard) and doesn't have problems with the abelia, weigela, burning bush, snowball bush, clematis, grapevine, horseradish, rhubarb, forsythia, maples, flanders poppies, bleeding hearts, tiger lilies, lilies of the valley, hyacinths (regular and grape), and daffodils. However, she has a wire frame around her rhododendrons, and her hostas are gone. The cedars are also destroyed, and the barberry has been severely damaged. She is a master gardener, and hasn't found a spray yet that works. They also have an eight-foot high electric fence surrounding their vegetables. I have also heard an interesting solution for those who would prefer to not use electric. You can make two fences, a tall inner fence that surrounds the garden, then another fence a few feet out that surrounds the taller fence, and put chickens inside. You could use guineas if they had their wings clipped. I can't attest to the effectiveness of this, but it's a neat idea anyway.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 7:38PM
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Gardenbaby - your mother is lucky.... the deer ate both my burning bushes and the snowball as well. We finally got rid of these as they seemed to be an attractant

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 9:39AM
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The deer have left the gardenias in this neighborhood alone.
Sauna mentioned that (where she lives) the deer didn't eat crepe myrtle, Japanese maple, mums, or grapevine. Not so in my yard. Those rats! Something I didn't see mentioned is the smoke bush--for the longest time ours weren't touched--now they're eaten whenever the deer can get at them. Right this minute the (still in pots) smoke bushes are surrounded by the patio chairs.

What ymeador mentioned about the deer leaving something alone and then one day eating it--that is so true. It's what became of my adorable Japanese maple by my front door. Those rats! Tonight they will probably eat the rest of my mums and marigold plant--the one remaining. My two apple trees have recently been re-stripped of all their lower leaves to about six feet. Just today my husband put up a different kind of fence around the apples. See, they strip stuff & then wait for the leaves to grow back--nice new, tender leaves, and then gobble up again. Those rates!!

I'm spending hours and hours on the net searching for shrubs that I like, that the deer don't like. If you find some answers--please share. Sure would appreciate any good ideas.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 12:45AM
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gcmarcus(Z7/8 SC)

I appreciated everyone's comments and I can say it is funny how some things work in one area and not another. I can honestly say I will just need to try different plants and see what happens. So far they have loved the Indian Hawthorn's the builder originally planted. They ate them down to almost nothing, and then the plants started to come back. Needless to say I thought maybe the deer would leave them alone, well I was wrong in that case. All the little leaves are gone again. I can say this, they didn't like the Gold Dust Aucuba I planted about a month ago. I noticed a few bite marks on some of leaves, but they pretty much left it alone. I guess we'll see what happens.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 8:43AM
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the problem is that the deer haven't read the deer-proof list of plants!!!

here in CT this winter they ate the English Ivy, hollies, the Mountain Laurels and the spruce branches. this summer they have stripped all the echinacea, oriental and tiger lilies, the smoke trees and the montauk daisies

they eat the hostas when they get bored with other stuff ,,,, first you see one house with them stripped and word gets out ,, before you know it they are all gone

the ONLY things they never eat are the bananas, bamboo, palm trees and salvias ,,,,, and things they cannot reach ..i put all my tropicals into the ground for the summer and they leave most of them alone

and what they will not eat ,, the ground hogs eat ,, down to one inch ,,,,, i walked out one morning and thought that all my large pots had been emptieds ,,,, they were just eaten down to 1/2" i will take deer over ground hogs anytime
i have good luck with Bobex

emjoying them while I can ,,,,

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 10:38PM
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winter_flurry(Zone 7 Ga)

Is those Devil Claws Deer Reistant or does the deer love those? Just asking.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 5:23PM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

When hungry, deer will pinch their noses and eat anything. Resistant plants emit an order that deer don't like which if other sources are available they will move on. Like you, if the only thing to eat is your most detestable food, you will eat it just for the nourishment.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 6:23PM
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I basically live in a heavy "deer crossing" zone. And despite their voracious eating habbits, I have to agree completely with michaelzz about some of the more tropical species they seem to completely avoid. They dont' seem to touch bananas or any palms regardless of species. And although I wish they would help me keep the bamboo under control, they COMPLETELY avoid it. Personally, I have found holly, rhododendrons, and camelias to be safe. And for whatever reason, my collection of large tropicals goes through the growing season without any trouble (ferns, citrus, whatever). They have a bigger appetite for yews than I had imagined. I'm going to be replacing the yews with something else. (Boxwood is supposed to be resistant.) Plants that they ate this past winter include Acuba japonica and Fatsia japonica. Happy gardening!:)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 7:38AM
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This is minimal deer damage on a Trachycarpus palm at Palmyra Cove Nature Park. Deer don't make much headway with the fibrous palm fronds.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 9:12PM
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The deer tried to eat my yucca this winter! Ouch!


    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 10:52AM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

I feel your pain. I too have been suffering with the explosion of the deer in a rural area doesn't help.
For years, I used to tolerate the odd nibble on various plants, but now if I don't fence off my L shaped row of cedar trees in front, and the plants within...I would be left with sticks. The deer fencing (bird netting) just didn't work for me, they cut it with their hooves and entered. I had to upgrade to a heavy netting used by fishermen.
I built a permanent wooden fence in the back of my yard and am in the process of moving deer favorites to the back. Unfortunately I can't move the trees as they are too old, will just replace in a few years.
Ones they aren't supposed to like, but forgot to read the manual and thus eat are...crocus, weigela, kalmia, clematis, blue fescue grass, yucca and iris.
They have left alone; spireas, mugo pine, kolkwitzia, crocosmia, bleeding heart, heuchera, hellebore, snow drops, allium, columbine, ferns and artemsia.
I does seem to be changing all the time though.
Good Luck

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 12:32AM
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Here is a good article from Arbor Day Foundation that uses research from Rutgers University and Master Gardeners to determine the best deer resistant trees and shrubs

Here is a link that might be useful: Deer Resitant Trees

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 5:32PM
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In San Antonio they do not eat Oleanders, Angel Trumpet or Russian sage if your looking for something with color. It was good to hear about Bamboo, because I'm thinking of using it as part of a natural fence. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 1:22PM
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juliebw(z5 NY)

I like the list at this link, because there are 5 levels, ranging from rarely damaged to severely damaged:

The list is pretty extensive, based on research. New Jersey is not your zone, but consider plants in the same botanical families as those that are not damaged often.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 8:00PM
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Clumping bamboo, not running bamboo, is a good green deer barrier. I trim back my bamboo by a few feet each spring so that I get lush, green foliage in a pleasant umbrella shape during the summer and then the shoots are there from fall through winter.

I have updated my deer resistant plant list (North Carolina). Still, everyone's experience can vary, depending upon the food supply.

Hope this is helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: my deer resistant plants

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 8:09AM
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Are there any cacti that can withstand winter temperatures in Zone 6? Maybe I could use them around plants I wanted to save from deer. Or I suppose I could plant caster beans in with them.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 10:53PM
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There are hardy varieties and Opuntia (and a few other other cacti) that are hardy into zone 6. Not sure of the plants you're trying to protect, but cacti are most happy in you hottest, driest locations. The plants that I co-plant with them are mostly herbs (lavender and rosemary) which the deer hate anyway. Deer should not eat Opuntia but don't know if it will keep them away from other plants that they do like. I personally hate Castor Bean don't know if the deer will likewise avoid other plants because of them. My biggest issues with eating are in the winter anyway and Castor beans are long gone from the garden in February.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 5:37AM
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