Not this year, deer.
With their natural habitats shrinking, deer are becoming a way of life in many residential neighborhoods across the country. Here is one of the best ways to mitigate the damage these herbivores do to herbaceous (and evergreen) plants. Select ones that are not on their preferred menu. Fortunately, there are plenty from which to choose. We narrowed our list down to 18 gorgeous deer-resistant shrubs that will suit gardens across the country.
Below is our list of shrubs on which deer are more unlikely to dine; your experience, of course, may differ. It turns out that deer are much like humans when it comes to food palate — their tastes vary! It should be noted that in winter when pickings are scarce, a hungry deer will eat the most unlikely plants. We've divided these into zones for easy reference. Check out all of the plants below to see the widest number of choices. You can also search Rutgers' handy database of plants for their deer-resistant rating. For even more nibble-me-not choices, please consult with a local garden center (find yours here).
Let us know if you have any tried-and-true deer-resistant plants in your garden. Write in the comments, or share them with us on social media @MonroviaPlants
Deer-Resistant Shrubs for Zones 3 - 5
A tough, compact variety that doesn't burn in full sun. Hot-pink flowers pop against foliage that starts as bright orange and matures to gold. Partial to full sun. Up to 3′ tall and wide. Zones 4-9.
Forsythia may have a short bloom season, but when it is on, it is ON! Explodes with masses of soft yellow early spring flowers. Partial to full sun. Up to 2′ tall, 3′ wide. Zones 4-9.
What’s better than the sweet scent of lilacs? Having deep purple blooms twice a year! This is a compact variety with a nicely rounded shape. Full sun. Up to 4′ tall and wide. Zones 4-8.
A tough, no-nonsense choice where you need a rugged, low-maintenance groundcover. A cold-hardy, blue-gray creeping juniper. Full sun. Up to 2′ tall, spreading to 8 ft. wide. Zones 3-8.
An evergreen conversation starter especially in colder zones, with striped foliage and tall, showy spikes of blooms. Full sun. Up to 4′ tall and 5' wide, with up to 6′ flower spikes. Zones 4-9.
Deer-Resistant Shrubs for Zones 6 - 8
Ignored by deer but loved by nature. Spring flowers, late summer berries, fall color, and layered form that shines in every season. Partial to full sun. Up to 15' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.
Butterflies and hummingbirds love it. Deer, not so much. Dark Sangria-red sterile flowers on compact form appear from July until frost. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall and wide. Zones 5-9.
Who doesn’t need more late-summer-into-fall flowers? Versatile small shrub for sunny beds and borders with late summer blooms. Full sun. Up to 36" tall and 30" wide. Zones 5-9.
Zones 9 - 11
A compact, upright variety with no unwanted seedlings, and long-lasting purple flowers. Deer aren't a fan, but butterflies and hummingbirds are! Full sun. Up to 2' tall and wide. Zones 5-10.
Chef’s garden must-have that’s rugged, deer resistant, and tolerates poor soils, drought, and salt spray. Wonderful in containers. Full sun. Up to 2′ tall and 3′ wide. Zones 8-10.
If nearly non-stop blooms, fragrant foliage, and silvery-grey illuminating effect weren’t enough, there’s this–deer want no part of it. Full sun. Up to 3′ tall and wide. Zones 9-11.
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If you need specific advice for a tricky spot, please leave a comment below. For even more choices, please consult with your local garden center (find one here).