Why are some perennials deer resistant? The answer to this question is not always simple.
A variety of plant characteristics and defense mechanisms can make a species unpalatable to deer, including taste, texture, odor, and chemical composition. Some plants are simply too tough or fibrous for deer to digest properly, while others contain compounds that deter herbivores from taking a bite in the first place.
Still, there is no such thing as a “100% deer-proof” flower. If a deer is hungry, it will eat just about anything. The best you can do is choose plants that are less likely to be damaged by deer browsing for a meal, and this article can help make things simple.
Keep reading to learn about the best perennials for incredible deer resistance.
1. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
If you don’t want to put up a deer fence, try planting butterfly weeds instead. This North American native is a larval host plant for the monarch butterfly, and is an excellent deer resistant perennial flower. It blooms from early summer to fall, bearing clusters of orange or yellow flowers. Butterfly weed prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
2. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
If you want to deter deer and rabbits, try planting blanket flowers. This plant produces daisy-like flowers with a yellow center and red, orange, or burgundy petals. The blanket flower grows 12 to 24 inches tall. It blooms from early summer until the first frost and is drought tolerant once established. This perennial is hardy in zones 3 to 10.
3. Yarrow (Achillea)
If you see deer poop in your garden, you know that trouble isn’t far behind. To protect your lovely yard, try planting yarrow flowers. These heat and drought-resistant perennials come in a variety of colors, including white, yellow, pink, peach, purple, and red. The flat-topped clusters of flowers bloom from early summer to fall on plants that range in height from 12 inches to 4 feet, depending on the cultivar. Yarrow is hardy in zones 3 to 9.
4. Sedum or Stonecrop (Sedum)
A large group of sun-loving succulent plants, sedums come in a range of colors, including shades of yellow, pink, red, and burgundy. Curious deer seem to avoid them, and they’re gorgeous perennials to watch grow.
They grow 6 inches to 2 feet tall and have fleshy leaves that store water, making them drought tolerant. Blooming in late summer to early fall, the clusters of star-shaped deer resistant perennial flowers attract bees and incredible butterflies. Sedums are hardy in zones 3 to 11.
5. Lenten Rose (Helleborus x hybridus)
Say hello to beauty when you plant lenten roses. This stunning deer resistant perennial blooms in late winter or early spring with nodding clusters of white, pink, or purple flowers. The leathery evergreen foliage is 6 to 18 inches tall and looks good year-round. Lenten rose is hardy in zones 4 to 9.
6. Coral Bells (Heuchera)
With their mounded habit and colorful leaves, coral bells make a great addition to any shady garden. They’re considered deer safe since they’re not attractive flowers to most mammals. The leaves come in a range of colors, including shades of green, purple, red, and burgundy. You’ll fall in love with the tiny bell-shaped flowers that appear in late spring or early summer on 18-inch-tall stems. Coral bells are hardy in zones 3 to 9.
7. Bee Balm (Monarda)
Deterring deer is great, but what about attracting birds? Bee balm is an aromatic deer resistant perennial flower that is perfect for attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden. Bee balm grows 2 to 4 feet tall and has showy flower heads that come in a range of colors, including pink, blue, and white. It blooms from mid to late summer and is hardy in zones 4 to 9.
8. Daylily (Hemerocallis)
Once you start planting daylilies, you’ll never go back. This easy-to-grow perennial is a great addition to any garden. Daylilies are available in a wide range of colors and bloom from early summer to fall. They are also deer resistant and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. Daylilies grow 2 to 3 feet tall and are hardy in zones 3 to 10.
9. Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantine)
It’s not always about color. Sometimes deer resistant perennials can add texture to the garden too, like the way lamb’s ear does. This furry, silver-gray perennial is perfect for adding layers of texture to your garden. Lamb’s ear grows 12 to 18 inches tall and blooms in the spring. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and does best in full sun to partial shade.
10. Peony (Paeonia)
Bring on the colors and delightful scents! This classic perennial is known for its large, vibrant, and fragrant flowers. Peonies come in a range of colors, including pink, red, white, and yellow. They bloom in the spring and are hardy in zones 3 to 8. Peonies grow 2 to 4 feet tall and do best in full sun.
11. Sage (Salvia)
This aromatic perennial is a great addition to any garden. Sage comes in a wide range of colors, including blue, purple, red, and white. It blooms from early summer to fall and is hardy in zones 4 to 9. Sage grows 2 to 3 feet tall and does best in full sun.
12. Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Enjoy a perennial with heart-shaped leaves and white, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring. Dutchman’s Breeches grows 6 to 12 inches tall and are hardy in zones 3 to 9. It’s unclear why deer avoid this plant, but they do!
13. Astilbe (Astilbe)
This shade-loving perennial is known for its plumes of flowers that come in a range of colors, including pink, purple, red, and white. Astilbe blooms from early summer to fall and is hardy in zones 4 to 8. It grows 18 inches to 4 feet tall, depending on the cultivar.
14. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
This biennial or short-lived perennial has tall spires of bell-shaped flowers that come in a range of colors, including light pink, dark blue, full white, and light purple. Foxgloves bloom in the spring or summer and are hardy in zones 4 to 8. They grow 2 to 3 feet tall.
15. Lavender (Lavandula)
Your garden isn’t complete without lavender. This perennial has aromatic leaves and spikes of flowers that come in a range of colors, including blue, purple, and white. Lavender blooms from early summer to fall and is hardy in zones 5 to 9. It grows 12 to 24 inches tall.
16. Wall Germander (Teucrium chamedrys)
Plant an impressive flower that stands tall, wall germanders. This perennial has aromatic, grey-green leaves, and spikes of pink or purple flowers that bloom in the summer. Deer don’t like these plants, but you’ll love them. Wall germander grows 2 to 3 feet tall and is hardy in zones 4 to 8. It does best in full sun to partial shade.
17. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Keep deer away with a classic garden plant, the Black-Eyed Susan. This perennial has yellow or gold petals and a black or brown center. It blooms from early summer to fall and grows 2 to 4 feet tall. Black-Eyed Susan plants are hardy in zones 3 to 9.
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- Homes and Gardens, Available here: https://www.homesandgardens.com/gardens/deer-resistant-plants
- White Flower Farm, Available here: https://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/deer-resistant-perennials
- Monrovia, Available here: https://www.monrovia.com/be-inspired/deer-resistant-plants-and-deer-deterring-tips.html