Deer are graceful and elegant animals, abundant in large numbers in all areas of the Northwest. Unfortunately, deer are often unwelcome in Northwest landscapes, where the wild creatures can make short work of a garden very quickly. Although deer will eat nearly anything if they're hungry enough, it's possible to choose plants that deer will often pass by.
Wood sorrell (Oxalis), also known as lucky shamrock, is a charming, low-growing perennial plant that does well in borders, window boxes or containers. Favored for its bright green, clover-shaped leaves, wood sorrell will surprise you with dainty blossoms in mid-summer. Wood sorrell, hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 7, will grow in all but the cold mountainous regions of the Pacific Northwest.
Plant daffodil (Narcissus sp.) bulbs, and the beautiful early spring bloomers will put on a show year after year with virtually no maintenance. In spite of their beauty and fragrance, daffodils are rarely damaged by deer. Daffodils are hardy in all zones of the Pacific Northwest.
Hellebore (Helleborus sp.) should be at the top of the list for gardeners seeking deer-resistant plants. Hellebore is a perennial that will produce bright blooms beginning in late winter or early spring. Appropriate in all zones of the Northwest, hellebore is a drought-tolerant, shade-loving dazzler.
Daphne (Daphne spp.) is an attractive and fragrant shrub that generally isn't on top of the deer's dining list. With its variegated evergreen leaves and sweet-smelling pink or white blooms that appear in flushes from spring to late autumn, daphne is a good choice for a shady spot in your garden. Daphne will grow in all areas of the Northwest.
Salvia (Salvia officinalis), a deer-resistant annual plant, will grow happily in all areas of the Northwest, decorating the landscape with aromatic, blue-grey foliage and brightly colored, spiky blooms from mid-summer until autumn. Plant salvia seeds in a sunny spot in your garden, then stand back and watch them grow.
Juniper is a deer-resistant shrub available in both upright tree forms and low-growing ground covers. While juniper is hardy in all zones, the juniper grows profusely in the arid high desert inland regions of the Northwest. Juniper is avoided by deer, probably because of the plant's strong scent.