There are a lot of reasons deer will leave the safety of the woods to feed in the garden. The number of deer in the area may be higher than the food the environment can provide because of drought or other conditions. Perhaps the plants in the garden just taste better and are more easily accessible to the deer. While there are very few plants that are completely deer-resistant, it's possible to minimize deer damage by planting attractive native California plants that deer will avoid because of the aromatic foliage.
False Indigo Bush
Plant an attractive and aromatic, deer-resistant living privacy fence. Dark purple-to-blue, single-petal flowers bloom in clusters of fragrant spikes at the ends of the branches of the false indigo bush. Growing as high as 6 to 10 feet, this fast-growing plant can quickly form a dense thicket in difficult moist areas of the landscape. Highly deer-resistant, the deciduous false indigo bush will bear fruit in late summer.
Coreopsis is a highly deer-resistant wildflower that is widely cultivated in the United States. Many gardeners consider coreopsis to be a valuable plant in the flower garden. The yellow petals radiate from the reddish-purple center on branching stems from long stalks. The tips of the petals are notched.
Known also as tickseed, Coreopsis is often seen growing wild in moist ditches of California. Although considered an annual, the plant can bloom for several years depending on the climate. For best results, plant coreopsis in moist, sandy soil in the sun or part shade.
Although deer don't care for coreopsis, the plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and insects that are lured by the nectar. Coreopsis seeds attract birds to the garden, as well.
Indian blanket, also known as firewheel, is often found along the road in California. There are many variations of this wildflower, with some pinwheel-like blooms of red and yellow, solid orange or solid yellow. The flower heads have three petals.
Indian blanket is considered a moderately deer-resistant flower. It is an annual that easily reseeds and grows almost anywhere with good drainage. This plant withstands heat and drought well.
Highly deer-resistant, the cowpen daisy is also called golden crownbeard and butter daisy, and is a member of the aster family. The yellow, three-petaled flowers can be up to 3 inches across and the triangular, silvery green leaves have toothed edges. Cowpen daisy grows in dry soil in sunny locations.