18 Beautiful Deer Resistant Shrubs

18 Beautiful Deer Resistant Shrubs

Photos by Doreen Wynja

Not this year, deer.

With their natural habitats shrinking, deer are becoming a way of life in many residential neighborhoods across the country. One of the best ways to mitigate the damage these herbivores do to herbaceous (and evergreen) plants is to select ones that are not on their preferred menu. Fortunately, there are plenty from which to choose, and 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 always be noted that especially in winter when pickings are scarce, a hungry deer will eat even the most unlikely plants. We’ve divided these into zones for easy reference, but 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 in the comments, or share them with us on social media @MonroviaPlants

Deer-Resistant Shrubs for Zones 3 - 5

Lil' Sizzle® Spirea

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.

Springshine™ Forsythia

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.

Little Darling® Lilac

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.

Burly Blue Juniper

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. 

Golden Sword Yucca

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.

Dwarf Alberta Spruce

A dense, pointed conifer with a naturally conical growth habit. Perfect for pruning as deer-resistant topiaries. Partial to full sun. Up to 8′ tall, 5′ wide. Zones 2-8

Deer-Resistant Shrubs for Zones 6 - 8

Sparkler® Arrowwood Viburnum

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.

miss molly summer lilac

Miss Molly Summer Lilac

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.

La Barbe Bleue Bluebeard

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.

white evergreen frostproof gardenia flowers

Timeless Beauty® Evergreen Magnolia

Perfect upright and dense small tree laden with large fragrant flowers over a long season. Full sun. Up to 20′ tall, 25′ wide. Zones 6-9.

white evergreen frostproof gardenia flowers

Frostproof Gardenia

How can deer resist something that smells this good? Lucky for us, they do. Flower buds resist late spring frosts without damage. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall, 4′ wide. Zones 7-11.

Himalayan Sweet Box

Exceptional groundcover with very fragrant white spring flowers. Try in dry shade gardens where other plants won’t grow! Full shade. Up to 2′ tall, spreading to 8′ wide. Zones 6-9.

Zones 9 - 11

High Five Purple Butterfly Bush

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.

Roman-Beauty-Rosemary-400x400

Roman Beauty Rosemary

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. 

Purple Rock Rose

Cistus is an unsung hero of dry, sunny gardens. Compact, sun, and heat-loving, with showy rose-purple blooms with maroon spots. Full sun. Up to 4′ tall, 6′ wide. Zones 8-11.

Thunderhead Japanese Black Pine

Deer rarely pine for this compact grower whose irregular growth habit adds character to the landscape. Partial to full sun. Up to 10′ tall, 15′ wide. Zones 5-10.

Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage

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.

Lacey Blue Russian Sage

Hardy and heat- and drought-tolerant with aromatic foliage that deters deer. This compact variety is colorful and upright. Full sun. Up to 18" tall, 26" wide. Zones 4-10.

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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).

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