Deer are graceful mammals, a pleasure to watch as they feed in a peaceful meadow or jump easily over a fence. Unfortunately, deer, which can be found ranging in nearly all areas of California, are also hungry creatures that love to dine on your prized posies. Although deer will eat nearly any plant if they're hungry enough, it's possible to grow a variety of plants that aren't at the top of their dinner list.
Although not all penstemon are deer resistant, whorl penstemon (Penstemon rydbergii) is one of the best. A perennial plant with bright bluish-lavender flowers and bright green foliage, whorl penstemon will grow in any part of the state but should be planted in afternoon shade in the warmer, southern areas. The plant may not be a favorite of deer but birds will love the bright blooms.
Although purple aster (Aster adscendens) might look delectable, the plant is rarely bothered by hungry deer, but will be visited by plenty of butterflies. Purple aster is a low-growing plant that will produce lavender blooms in spring and summer. A sun-loving perennial, purple aster will thrive in even poor soil and can be grown successfully in any part of the state.
California bay (Umbellularia californica), also known as bay laurel, is an evergreen shrub native to the mountains of California and Oregon. California bay prefers full sunlight in cool, damp mountain or coastal areas but will benefit from partial shade in the warmer, interior climates of California.
Fountain grass (Stipa coronata) is an ornamental bunch grass that grows best in California's warm, dry areas. Also known as "needle grass," deer rarely bother this distinctive plant. Fountain grass, which can reach heights of 2 to 3 feet, is drought-tolerant and can be planted to control erosion on difficult slopes.
Creeping stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium) is a low-growing succulent found growing wild in California's rocky, mountainous areas. Creeping stonecrop, rarely bothered by deer, is easily adapted to the home landscape in any part of the state as long as the plant is placed in well-drained soil. Yellow blooms will appear on the blue-green foliage between May and July.