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7 deer-resistant plants to keep them away

Deer in garden
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you find deer nibbling around in your backyard, you’ll need to plant some deer-resistant plants to keep them away. This is often the case if you enjoy growing vegetables or you’ve mastered growing tomatoes for a juicy harvest. 

While they may look as cute as anything, whether you live in the suburbs or on large estates, deer are a common plant pest in the US and can undo all the hard work you've put into your garden. 

Thankfully, there are some plants that deer won't eat, so if you have a high-population of deer in your area, planting these could save your beautiful garden from ruin. Handily, there are also some plants and flowers that will even keep deer away, so you'll stand a better chance of warding off these beautiful but pesky pests.

Here are 7 deer-resistant plants.

7 deer-resistant plants

Typically, deer tend to stay away from fragrant flora, hating the taste of strong smelling blooms and herbs. While they often prefer bland, tasteless blooms, bear in mind that the local deer may have different favorites depending on which part of the country you're in. So it’s worth asking at your nearest nurseries or garden centre for localized advice. In the meantime, here are a few common deer-resistant plants you should be putting in your garden to keep deer at bay.

1. Sunflowers  

Sunflowers

Sunflowers (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve learned how to plant sunflowers, you’ll be glad to know that deer won’t go near it. Typically, deer don't like the rough texture of the leaves, so they're less likely to snack on them. In addition, sunflowers are known to grow to giant heights of up to two metres, and they come in a wide range of colors including rusty red, orange, green and even white, making them a beautiful and imposing addition to any garden.

2. Peonies 

Pink peonies

Pink peonies (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Typically, deer won’t go near sweet-smelling plants, and peonies have a strong scent. In addition, they dislike the flavor and sap inside the stems, which will be sure to keep them away. So, if you want to maintain a colorful garden all year, peonies are the ideal, deer-resistant plant.   

3. Sage 

Sage

Sage (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This popular herb may be fragrant for meals, but deer hate the strong smell and taste of the leaves. In fact, deer tend to stay far away from any aromatic herb or plant, including rosemary and lavender. However, if they are tempted to eat a sage plant, they'll likely go for the flowers before the foliage.

4. Lavender

Lavender plant

Lavender plant (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similar to sage, lavender has a strong, fragrant smell that deer don’t like. With its deep, purple tones, this classic perennial has delicate foliage with a recognisable scent. While lavender isn’t usually considered dangerous to animals, it can be poisonous to them if eaten in large amounts. Bear this in mind when planting the lavender, especially if you have pets.

5. Foxglove 

Pink foxglove

Pink foxglove (Image credit: Shutterstock)

These tall perennial flowers may look pretty, but are actually poisonous to deer. For this reason, deer stay well away and rarely eat them. Colors range from purple and pink to yellow and cream tones, and most varieties have flowers all round the stems. Since foxglove are shade-loving plants, these do well in dry shade and can grow as tall as 3-5 ft. Bear in mind that this plant is also toxic to humans and pets if ingested. 

6. Oriental poppy

Orange poppies

Orange poppies (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Poppies have a strong scent and taste that repels deer. These pretty flowers may be small, but are certainly hardy and need lower temperatures to thrive. This makes them a great choice in colder climates. If you have clusters of poppies around the garden, this will keep deer at bay.

7. Daffodils

Daffodils

Daffodils (Image credit: Shutterstock)

These spring-flowering plants taste repulsive to deer, and the foliage, stems and flowers are actually poisonous to them, meaning the deer are unlikely to go near. Mostly known for their yellow pigment, daffodils can also come in shades of white, cream, orange or pink. These can grow naturally in wild grass and are an ideal plant for shaded gardens.  

Plants that deer love to eat 

Deer chewing on plant

Deer chewing on plant (Image credit: Shutterstock)

You can discourage a deer invasion by not planting the plants and flowers they love. Some of their favorites include hostas, daylilies, azaleas, and arborvitae. 

In addition, you can install tall deer fencing or netting like this OldMacDonald Deer and Animal Fence Barrier Netting ($109 (opens in new tab), Amazon (opens in new tab)), to keep them out.  


If you want to learn how to grow root vegetables check out how to plant potatoes and when to do it. Or learn how to plant asparagus the easy way for delicious meals. If you're looking for an indoor project, check out how to grow an avocado tree from a seed. If you're also interested in indoor plants, check out our guides on how to care for succulents and how to repot succulents. We also cover how to care for air plants.

Cynthia Lawrence
Homes Writer

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 


Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.


With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!