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Making Your Garden Unfriendly to Deer

[Gardening]

Deer Photo courtesy of Liz Noffsinger / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Caption : Deer image courtesy of Liz Noffsinger
Credits : FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
 
Short of enclosing your garden in a compound that would rival the best maximum-security prison or buying an island on which to grow your beloved plants far from the threat of these ravenous ruminants, there is no absolute solution to the problem of deer eating your ornamentals, fruits, or vegetables.  Not only will they eat broad-leaf plants, they will also polish their antlers on your trees and shake the dickens out of your shrubs, usually causing devastating results in the process.  Deer feed by browsing, which means that they will sample anything with a broad-leaf from ground level to six feet above the ground and generally leave grass alone.  In times of dire hunger, they will strip bark from young trees and bushes.
 
 
Unfortunately, there are factors that are beyond the gardener's control that determine how bad the deer problem is in your area.  First and foremost among these factors is population.  As deer population increases, food supplies decrease.  The deer are forced to forage in places where they would not normally roam.  Drought, deforestation, wildfires, and human encroachment are all factors that contribute to the problem.  It is only natural that a deer would choose the tender green garden over starvation in a denuded countryside.  Only humans attach a dollar amount to plants.  To an animal, plants are simply food, shade, or cover.
 
 

Deer Fences

 
The ideal deer fence would be at least eight feet tall and constructed at a 30 degree angle jutting outward from your garden.  To be more effective, it would need to have two or more strands of barbed wire at the top and perhaps an electrified strand at the 4-5 foot level.  Deer can clear a six-foot high fence easily should they decide that it is worth the risk to make the jump.  During a low-population year when there is ample food supplies in the surrounding countryside, the deer would more than likely not bother crossing that boundary.  In the event of stressful conditions, however, they would have no qualms about clearing the typical wooden privacy fence.
 
Electric fences can be an effective deterrent.  Electric fence chargers send pulses of electricity through a conductive wire or tape.  Deer are large animals and a high voltage, low impedance charger with a 6-8' ground rod should be used.  They must be insulated from the posts and special connectors are available for this purpose.  They must also be routinely monitored to prevent limbs or blades of grass from touching the wires and grounding them out, although this type of charger will typically burn off blades of grass that come into contact with the wires.  Keep in mind that deer are more likely to crawl UNDER a single strand of wire than to jump over it.  Therefore, a two-wire fence is the better choice with the top wire at 30-36" and the lower wire at 15-18".  Mark any electric fence clearly with warning signs.  Don't forget to check local codes to make sure that it is legal to install an electric fence.
 
There is a polypropylene (plastic) mesh deer fence available on the market.  It is about 8' tall, is UV resistant, and durable.  Taller heavy-duty deer net rolls are also available.  This fencing material is a black mesh with openings around 1-2 inches big and is nearly invisible.  A lightweight "chicken wire" version is also available for covering tender new plants until they have time to become established.  
 
If you already have a fence around your property, you can make it a little more effective by cluttering the landing zone.  Unless they are desperate, deer are unlikely to jump a fence if they aren't sure of a safe place to land on the other side.  One way of doing this is to make the area on the other side of the fence small.  Another way would be to line the interior of the fence with tall screening plants such as hedges or bamboo (the clumping variety).
 
 

Deer Repellents

 
There are many commercial repellents on the market to deter deer from your plantings.  Most of these are made with rancid egg solids, hot pepper oil, etc., and claim to work by making the plantings have a disagreeable taste and odor to the deer.  Most garden centers carry various brands of deer repellent.  Keep in mind that these are also more effective if the deer population is low and the deer aren't starving.  Many gardeners choose to make their own repellents from rotten egg whites, hot peppers, hot pepper sauces such as Tabasco, garlic, cumin, citrus rinds, soured milk, buttermilk, and soap.  These repellents must be refreshed periodically and after precipitation.
 
Another form of repellents is predator urine.  Coyote, mountain lion, and bobcat urine are examples that are commercially available.  Dog urine from one of the medium to large breeds is just as effective.  Humans urine is said to be a good repellent.  Urine, like other repellents, has to be refreshed and must be re-applied after a rain.  Although some people swear by them, there seems to be mixed-results regarding the efficacy of repellents.
 
 

Scare Tactics

 
Gardeners have used sound, movement, lights and water are startle techniques to deter deer from their plants.  Motion lights are said to work beautifully until the deer become accustomed to them.  Scarecrows and motion activated water sprinklers have had the same results.  It's like watching a horror movie...once you know where the scary parts are, you don't jump anymore.  These deterrents work best if they are moved about so that the environment is always changing.  You might also try a radio set to a talk radio station if the deer have not become too acclimated to humans.  Utilize timers so that different lights or sounds come on at different times.  Anything that provides noise or motion is good:  cd's hanging from plants, strips of cloth or mylar ribbon, whirligigs, windmills, old clothes hung on a human-shaped frame, clothes hung on a clothesline, flags, windchimes, bells attached to the plants, a string of aluminum pie plates, etc.  A "trip-wire" with various noisy, clattering items attached might frighten a wary deer.  Remember to vary the items regularly and change their positions so that the deer don't become accustomed to them being there.
 
 

Deer Resistant Plants

 
The following are lists of plants that deer do not find entirely palatable.  None of these is foolproof.  A hungry deer will eat plants that are not favorite foods.  However, these have proven to be lower on the deer's preferred food list and more likely to encourage deer to seek better food sources elsewhere.
 

Plants with Highest Level of Deer Resistance:

 
  • Ageratum - Ageratum houstonianum
  • Allegheny Spurge - Pachysandra procumbens
  • American Holly - Ilex opaca
  • Angel's Trumpet - Brugmansia sp. (Datura)
  • Anise - Pimpinalla anisum
  • Anise Hyssop - Agastache sp.
  • Annual Vinca - Catharanthus rosea
  • Arrowwood Viburnum - Viburnum dentatum
  • Autumn Crocus - Colchicum sp.
  • Barberry - Berberis sp.
  • Barrenwort - Epimedium sp.
  • Basket of Gold Alyssum - Aurinia saxatilis
  • Bayberry - Myrica pensylvanica
  • Bearberry - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
  • Big Bluestem Grass - Andropogon sp.
  • Bigleaf Goldenray - Ligularia dentata
  • Bishop's Weed - Aegopodium podagaria
  • Bleeding Heart - Dicentra spectabilis
  • Blue Fescue Grass - Festuca glauca
  • Blue Mist Shrub - Caryopteris clandonensis
  • Blue Oat Grass - Helictotrichon sempervirens
  • Bluebell - Endymion sp.
  • Bottlebrush Buckeye - Aesculus parviflora
  • Broom - Cytisus sp.
  • Bugleweed - Ajuga reptans
  • Bush Cinquefoil - Potentilla fruticosa
  • Butter and Eggs - Linaria vulgaris
  • Buttercup - Ranunculus sp.
  • Butterfly Bush - Buddleia sp.
  • Cactus - Cactaceae sp.
  • Castor Bean - Ricinus communis
  • Catmint - Nepeta sp.
  • Christmas Fern - Polystichum arcostichoides
  • Cinnamon Fern - Osmunda cinnamomea
  • Clump Bamboo - Fargesia sp.
  • Common Boxwood - Buxus sempervirens
  • Common Foxglove - Digitalis purpurea
  • Common Garden Sage - Salvia officinalis
  • Common Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare
  • Corydalis - Corydalis sp.
  • Crown Imperial - Fritilaria imperialis
  • Daffodil - Narcissus sp.
  • Dame's Rocket - Hesperis matronalis
  • Daphne - Daphne sp.
  • Devil's Walking Stick - Aralia spinosa
  • Drooping Leucothoe - Leucothoe fontanesiana
  • Dusty Miller - Centaurea cineraria
  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce - Picea glauca 'Conica'
  • European Ginger - Asarum europaeum
  • False Chamomile - Matricaria sp.
  • False Indigo - Baptisia australis
  • Feather Reed Grass - Calamagrostis sp.
  • Flowering Tobacco - Nicotiana sp.
  • Forget-Me-Not - Myosotis sp.
  • Fountain Grass - Pennisetum alopecuroides
  • Fragrant Sumac - Rhus aromatica
  • Fringed Bleeding Heart - Dicentra eximia
  • Germander - Teucrium chamaedrys
  • Giant Japanese Silver Grass - Miscanthus floridulis
  • Giant Reed - Arundo donax
  • Golden Bamboo - Phyllostachys aurea
  • Greek Jerusalem Sage - Phlomis sp.
  • Hakonechloa Ornamental Grass - Hakonechloa macra
  • Hard Rush Grass - Juncus effusus
  • Hay-scented Fern - Dennstaedtia punctilobula
  • Heath - Erica sp.
  • Heather - Calluna sp.
  • Heliotrope - Heliotropium arborescens
  • Holly Fern - Cyrtomium falcatum
  • Horehound - Marrubium vulgare
  • Horseradish - Armoracia rusticana
  • Hyssop - Hyssopus officinalis
  • Indian Grass - Sorghastrum nutans
  • Iris - Iris sp.
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit - Arisaema triphylum
  • Japanese Black Pine - Pinus thunbergiana
  • Japanese Blood Grass - Imperata cylindrica
  • Japanese Painted Fern - Athyrium goeringianum (nipponicum)
  • Japanese Pieris, Andromeda - Pieris japonica
  • Japanese Plum Yew - Cephalotaxus harringtonia
  • Japanese Sedge Grass - Carex sp.
  • Japanese Silver Grass - Miscanthus sinensis
  • Japanese Skimmia - Skimmia japonica
  • Japanese Sweet Flag - Acorus sp.
  • John T. Morris Holly - Ilex x 'John T. Morris'
  • Katsura Tree - Cercidiphyllum japonicum
  • Lamb's Ear - Stachys byzantina
  • Large Blue June Grass - Koeleria glauca
  • Larkspur - Consolida ambigua
  • Lavendar - Lavandula sp.
  • Lavendar-Cotton - Santolina chamaecyparissus
  • Leatherleaf Mahonia - Mahonia bealei
  • Lemon Balm - Melissa officinalis
  • Lenten Rose, Christmas Rose - Helleborus sp.
  • Lily of the Valley - Convallaria majalis
  • Little Bluestem Grass - Schizachyrium scoparium
  • Lungwort - Pulmonaria sp.
  • Lydia Morris Holly - Ilex x 'Lydia Morris'
  • Lyme Grass - Leymus arenarius glaucous
  • Marjoram - Majorana
  • May Apple - Podophyllum
  • Meadow Rue - Thalictrum sp.
  • Mimosa - Albizia julibrissin
  • Mint - Mentha sp.
  • Monkshood - Aconitum sp.
  • Moonglow Juniper - Juniperus scopulorum 'Moonglow'
  • Mountain Pieris - Pieris floribunda
  • New York Fern - Thelyptens noveboracensis
  • Northern Sea Oats - Chasmanthium latifolium
  • Oregano - Oreganum sp.
  • Oregon Grape Holly - Mahonia aquifolium
  • Oriental Fountain Grass - Pennisetum orientale
  • Ornamental Onion - Allium sp.
  • Ostrich Fern - Matteuccia struthiopteris
  • Pachysandra - Pachysandra terminalis
  • Pampas Grass - Cortaderia selloana
  • Paper Birch - Betula papyrifera
  • Pawpaw Tree - Asimina triloba
  • Peony - Paeonia sp.
  • Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida
  • Poppy - Papaver sp.
  • Pot Marigold - Calendula sp.
  • Potentilla, Cinquefoil - Potentilla sp.
  • Prince of Wales Juniper - Juniperus horizontalis 'Prince of Wales'
  • Purple Moor Grass - Molinia caerulea
  • Purple Rock Cress - Aubretia deltoidea
  • Ravenna Grass - Erianthus ravennae
  • Red Elderberry - Sambucus racemosa
  • Red Pine - Pinus resinosa
  • River Birch - Betula nigra
  • Rock Cress - Arabis caucasica
  • Rocket Ligularia - Ligularia 'The Rocket'
  • Rodgers Flower - Rodgersia sp.
  • Rose Campion - Lychnis coronaria
  • Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Royal Fern - Osmunda regalis
  • Rue - Ruta sp.
  • Russian Cypress - Microbiota decussata
  • Russian Olive - Elaeagnus angustifolia
  • Russian Sage - Perovskio atriplicifolia
  • Sensitive Fern - Onoclea sensibilis
  • Siberian Bugloss - Bruneria macrophylla (Brunnera)
  • Siberian Squill - Scilla siberica
  • Silver Mound Artemisia - Artemisia sp.
  • Small Globe Thistle - Echinops ritro
  • Snapdragon - Antirrhinum majus
  • Snowdrops - Galanthus nivalis
  • Snow-on-the-Mountain - Euphorbia marginata
  • Spider Flower - Cleome sp.
  • Spotted Deadnettle - Lamium sp.
  • Spurge - Euphorbia sp. (except 'Chameleon')
  • Statice - Limonium latifolium
  • Strawflower - Helichrysum
  • Sweet Alyssum - Lobularia maritima
  • Sweet Box - Sarcoccoca hookeriana
  • Sweet Woodruff - Galium odoratum (Asperula odorata)
  • Switch Grass - Panicum virgatum
  • Tarragon - Artemisia dracunculus
  • Threadleaf Coreopsis - Coreopsis verticillata
  • Thyme - Thymus sp.
  • Variegated Oat Grass - Arrhenatherum elatius
  • Weeping Love Grass - Eragrostus curvula
  • Wild Ginger - Asarum canadense
  • Winter Aconite - Eranthus hyemalis
  • Wood Fern - Dryopteris marginalis
  • Yucca - Yucca filimentosa
 
 

Plants with Second Highest Level of Deer Resistance

 
  • Africa Lily - Agapanthus sp.
  • Allegheny Serviceberry - Amelanchier laevis
  • American Bittersweet - Celastrus scandens
  • Anthony Waterer Spirea - Spiraea x bumalda
  • Armstrong Juniper - Juniperus chinensis 'Armstrongii'
  • Asparagus - Asparagus officinalis
  • Aster - Aster sp.
  • Astilbe - Astilbe sp.
  • Austrian Pine - Pinus nigra
  • Autumn Olive - Elaeagnus umbellatus
  • Baby's Breath - Gypsophila sp.
  • Bachelor's Buttons - Centaurea cyanus
  • Bamboo - Bambusa sp.
  • Basil - Ocimum basilicum
  • Bearberry Cotoneaster - Cotoneaster dammeri
  • Beautyberry - Callicarpa sp.
  • Beautybush - Kolkwitzia amabilis
  • Bee Balm - Monarda didyma
  • Black-eyed Susan - Rudbeckia sp.
  • Blackhaw Viburnum - Viburnum prunifolium
  • Blazing Star Liatris - Liatris sp.
  • Blue Star Juniper - Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'
  • Blue Elder, Sweet Elder - Sambucus canadensis
  • Bog Rosemary - Andromeda polifolia
  • Borage - Borage officinalis
  • Bottlebrush Grass - Hystrix patula
  • Bramble Fruits (Blackberry, Black Raspberry, Dewberry) - Rubus sp.
  • Bridlewreath Spirea - Spiraea prunifolia
  • Buckthorn - Rhammus sp.
  • Bugloss - Anchusa sp.
  • Butterfly Weed - Asclepias tuberosa
  • California Poppy - Eschscholzia californica
  • California Sweetshrub - Calycanthus occidentalis
  • Calla Lily - Zantedeschia sp.
  • Camassia - Camassia leichtlini
  • Candytuft, Perennial - Iberis sempervirens
  • Candytuft, Annual - Iberis umbellata
  • Canna Lily - Canna sp.
  • Cardinal Flower - Lobelia sp.
  • Carnation, Pinks - Dianthus sp.
  • Carolina Silverbell - Halesia carolina
  • Cherry Laurel - Prunus laurocerasus
  • Chinese Fringe Tree - Chionanthus retusus
  • Chinese Holly - Ilex cornuta
  • Chinese Juniper - Juniperus chinensis cv.
  • Chinese Paper Birch - Betula albo-sinensis
  • Coast Leucothoe - Leucothoe axillaris
  • Cock's Comb, Princess Feathers - Celosia sp.
  • Colorado Blue Spruce - Picea pungens
  • Columbine - Aquilegia sp.
  • Common Flowering Quince - Chaenomeles speciosa
  • Common Lilac - Syringa vulgaris
  • Common Sassafras - Sassafras albidum
  • Common Sweetshrub - Calycanthus floridus
  • Common Witchhazel - Hamamelis virginiana
  • Common Yarrow - Achillea millefolium
  • Coralbells - Heuchera sp.
  • Coralberry - Symphoricarpos x chenaultii
  • Corkscrew Willow - Salix matsudana tortuosa
  • Cranberry Bush - Viburnum opulus
  • Cranberry Cotoneaster - Cotoneaster apiculatus
  • Crape Myrtle - Lagerstroemia indica
  • Creeping Juniper - Juniperus horizontalis cv.
  • Creeping Wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens
  • Crocosmia - Croscosmia sp.
  • Crocus - Crocus sp.
  • Currant - Ribes sp.
  • Cyclamen - Cyclamen sp.
  • Dawn Redwood - Metasequoia glyptostroboides
  • Delphinium - Delphinium sp.
  • Deutzia - Deutzia sp.
  • Dill - Anethumus graveolens
  • Doublefile Viburnum - Viburnum plicatum tomentosum
  • Douglas Fir - Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • Downy Serviceberry - Amelanchier arborea
  • Dragon Lady, San Jose Holly - Ilex x aquipernyi
  • Drooping Sedge Grass - Carex pendula
  • Dwarf Balsam Fir - Abies balsamea
  • Dwarf Mondo Grass - Ophiopogon japonicus
  • Eastern Redcedar - Juniperus virginiana
  • Eastern White Pine - Pinus strobus
  • Elephant Ear - Colocasia esculenta
  • English Hawthorn - Crataegus laevigata
  • English Holly - Ilex aquifolium
  • European Ash - Fraxinus excelsior
  • European Beech - Fagus sylvatica
  • European White Birch - Betula pendula
  • Feverfew - Chrysanthemum parthenium
  • Firethorn - Pyracantha coccinea
  • Foam Flower - Tiarella cordifolia
  • Forget-Me-Not, Biennial variety - Myosotis alpestris
  • Forsythia - Forsythia x intermedia
  • Fothergillia - Fothergilla sp.
  • French Marigold - Tagetes patula
  • Gas Plant - Dictamus alba
  • Gladiolus - Gladiolus sp.
  • Glory Lily - Gloriosa superba
  • Glossy Abelia - Abelia sp.
  • Goldenrain Tree - Koelreuteria paniculata
  • Goldenrod - Solidago sp.
  • Gold Dust Plant - Aucuba japonica
  • Grape Hyacinth - Muscari sp.
  • Green Ash - Fraximus pennsylvanica
  • Hardy Geranium - Geranium macrorrhizum
  • Harlequin Glorybower - Clerodendrum fargesii
  • Hazelnut - Corylus sp.
  • Heartleaf Bergenia - Bergenia sp.
  • Hen and Chicks - Sempervivum sp.
  • Himalayan Birch - Betula jacquemontii
  • Holly Osmanthus - Osmanthus heterophyllus
  • Honey Locust - Gleditsia triacanthos
  • Hyacinth - Hyacinthus sp.
  • Ink Berry - Ilex glabra
  • Jacob's Ladder - Polemonium caeruleum
  • Japanese Anemone - Anemone x hybrida
  • Japanese Cedar - Cryptomeria japonica
  • Japanese Falsecypress - Chamaecyparis pisifera
  • Japanese Flowering Cherry - Prunus serrulata
  • Japanese Flower Quince - Chaenomeles japonica
  • Japanese Garden Juniper - Juniperus procumbens 'Nana'
  • Japanese Kerria - Kerria japonica
  • Japanese Maple - Acer palmatum
  • Japanese Red Pine - Pinus densiflora
  • Japanese Spirea - Spiraea japonica
  • Japanese Tree Lilac - Syringa reticulata
  • Judd Viburnum - Viburnum x juddii
  • Koreanspice Viburnum - Viburnum carlesii
  • Kousa Dogwood - Cornus kousa
  • Lady's Mantle - Alchemilla sp.
  • Lance Coreopsis - Coreopsis lanceolata
  • Lantana - Lantana sp.
  • Large Periwinkle - Vinca major
  • Leatherleaf Virburnum - Viburnum rhytidophyllum
  • Lilyturf - Liriope sp.
  • Lobelia - Lobelia sp.
  • Lupine - Lupinus sp.
  • Maltese Cross - Lychnis chalcedonica
  • Meadow Sage - Salvia nemorosa
  • Mist Flower - Eupatorium coelestinurn
  • Money Plant - Lunaria annua
  • Mountain Juniper - Juniperus scopulorum 
  • Mugo Pine - Pinus mugo
  • Mullein - Verbascum sp.
  • Nasturtium - Tropaeolum majus
  • Norway Spruce - Picea abies
  • Obedient Plant - Physostegia sp.
  • Oriental Poppy - Papaver orientale
  • Paperbark Maple - Acer griseurn
  • Parsley - Petroselinum crispum
  • Patrinia - Patrinia scabiosifolia
  • Periwinkle - Vinca minor
  • Pfitzer Juniper - Juniperus chinensis 'Pfitzerana'
  • Pincushion Flower - Scabiosa caucasica
  • Plumbago - Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
  • Plume Poppy - Macleaya cordata
  • Primrose - Primula sp.
  • Privet - Ligustrum sp.
  • Purple Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea
  • Pyrenees Cotoneaster - Cotoneaster congestus
  • Red Chokeberry - Aronia arbutifolia
  • Red Maple - Acer rubrum
  • Red Osier Dogwood - Cornus sericea
  • Red Twigged Dogwood - Cornus alba
  • Red Hot Poker - Kniphofia tritoma
  • Red-Vein Enkianthus - Enkianthus campanulatus
  • Rhubarb - Rheum rhabarbarum
  • Ribbon Grass - Phalaris arundinaceae
  • Rockspray Cotoneaster - Cotoneaster horizontalis
  • Rose of Sharon - Hibiscus syriacus
  • Ruby Horsechestnut - Aesculus x carnea
  • Rue Anemone - Anemonella thalictroides
  • Salvia (Sage) - Salvia
  • Saucer Magnolia - Magnolia x soulangiana
  • Savory - Satureja montana
  • Scotch Pine - Pinus sylvestris
  • Sea Buckthorn - Hippophae rhamnoides
  • Sea Thrift - Armeria maritima
  • Sedge Grass - Scirpus lacustris
  • Serbian Spruce - Picea omorika
  • Shadbush - Amelanchier canadensis
  • Shiso - Perilla frutescens
  • Skunk Cabbage - Symplocarpos foetidus
  • Smoke Bush - Cotinus coggygria
  • Snakeroot, Bugbane - Cimcifuga sp.
  • Sneezeweed - Helenium autumnale
  • Snowberry - Symphoricarpos albus
  • Snow-in-Summer - Cerastium Tomentosum
  • Soapwort - Saponaria sp.
  • Sourwood, Lily of the Valley Tree - Oxydendrum arboreum
  • Speedwell, Veronica - Veronica sp.
  • Spicebush - Lindera benzoin
  • Spiderwort - Tradescantia sp.
  • St. John's Wort, Perennial - Hypericum calycinum
  • St. John's Wort, Shrub - Hypericum prolificum
  • Stocks - Matthiola sp.
  • Stoke's Aster - Stokesia laevis
  • Striped Maple - Acer pensylvanicum
  • Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum
  • Swamp Milkweed - Asclepias incarnata
  • Sweet Mock Orange - Philadelphus coronarius
  • Sweet Pepperbush - Clethra sp.
  • Sweet William - Dianthus barbatus
  • Toad Lily - Tricyrtis hirta
  • Trillium - Trillium sp.
  • Trout Lily - Erythronium
  • Tulip Tree - Liriodendron tulipifera
  • Verbena - Verbena x hybrida
  • Violets - Viola sp.
  • Virginia Bluebells - Mertensia virginica
  • Virginia Sweetspire - Itea virginica
  • Wallflower - Cheiranthus sp.
  • Weigela - Weigela florida
  • White Boltonia - Boltonia asteroides
  • White Snakeroot - Eupatorium rugosum
  • White Spruce - Picea glauca
  • Willowleaf Cotoneaster - Cotoneaster salicifolius
  • Winter Jasmine - Jasminum nudiflorum
  • Winterberry Holly - Ilex verticillata
  • Wisteria - Wisteria floribunda
  • Wood Sorrel - Oxalis sp.
  • Yarrow - Achillea filipendulina
  • Yellow Birch - Betula lutea
  • Yellow Foxglove - Digitalis grandiflora
  • Yellow Wax-Bells - Kirengeshoma palmata
  • Youngstown Andorra Juniper - Juniperus horizontalis 'Youngstown'
  • Zinnia - Zinnia sp.
 
These plants are by no means a complete list of all deer-resistant flowers, shrubs and trees.  Use EXTREME CAUTION with some of these plants (e.g. Datura, Castor Bean) as they are highly toxic to humans and animals.  Research your particular area for native plants that are deer-resistant.  
 

Helpful Hint:

 
Try planting hot pepper plants as filler plants among your flowers.  If hot peppers are planted too closely to sweet peppers or tomatoes, the sweet peppers or tomatoes will often "take up the heat" of the pepper plants.  Capsaicin, the compound in hot peppers that makes them hot, is a irritant and may help deter the deer from eating your ornamentals.  Pepper plants are quite lovely as well.  
 

Warning:

 
Deer sign (a.k.a. manure) can pose a potential health risk to humans.  It may contain the pathogenically harmful bacteria O157:H7 strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli), Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella according to the FDA.  Wash hands thoroughly after handling soil that may have been contaminated by deer droppings before eating, drinking, or using tobacco products.  Do not allow children to play in soil that may have been contaminated.  Deer droppings can be safely composted.  The heat from the decomposition process is high enough to kill harmful bacteria.  

 

 

The deer make us nuts here in California! Yep, they're cute, but first food shortage and I will not feel guilty eating venison! Especially the particular venison who eats my roses!!!! You are right though; there is no real way to keep deer out unless they don't WANT to do lunch in your garden and the only way to fix that problem is to plant things they don't like to eat. I appreciate your long list of plants and this spring, I will print this out and take it to the plant shop/nursery with me when I buy new plants! Thanks for enlightening us.
Jan 28, 2013
Jayme, I have advice on how to get gophers out of your lawn; buy fake turf! I live on a "rock" in that there is so little topsoil, so after 20 years here, I gave up on the lawn. I ripped out the lawn and had the turf guys come and put fake stuff in. It looks great, don't have to mow it, the kids love playing on it, and since we're always on water rationing here with huge water bills, not watering the lawn or whatever we could have put in it's place, is wonderful...just sayin'....
Jan 27, 2013
I'm not sure I've ever read such a comprehensive article on this subject--and I've searched online A LOT because the deer ruin my garden every single year. My deer are persistent little guys, (and big guys) and we have tried everything to make them do lunch elsewhere. I have tried the repellents and they do work but you have to spray that noxious stuff every week. We've tried the "human repellent" and watching my husband run around the yard peeing on everything was entertainment in and of itself, but didn't work at all because local, tame deer aren't afraid of us so the human urine doesn't intimidate them--as perhaps it would if you lived at the edge of a wild area. I think then, it would work well as it should--I honk at my deer and they STILL don't run away. I do really appreciate the extensive list of deer resistant plants and your other new and really good tips on the garden/plant tips to make the little guys give up on chewing up my garden. Thank you so much! Loved this!
Jan 27, 2013
No, other than traps or poison, I don't know anything about gophers. May do a little research and get back to you on that one, though. Neither of those "remedies" would be acceptable with pets. You may be right about the camera!
Jan 26, 2013
Wow! Extensive plant research! Another great way to make deer shy away is to buy a camera. I don't know why it is, but if you really want to take photos of the deer, they never show up again! Have any advice on gophers?
Jan 25, 2013