List of Deer Resistant Shrubs

Deer are forest creatures who like to nibble on shrubs when the foliage dies back during the autumn and winter. Gardeners can opt to plant deer resistant shrubs to keep their landscape looking nice year round. Some deer resistant shrubbery have defense mechanisms that make them taste bitter, while others smell bad or bear sharp thorns. While no plant is entirely deer proof, there are many different shrubs that hungry deer tend to leave alone.


Boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens) are broadleaf evergreen shrubs in the Buxacae family. These shrubs reach 4- to 6-foot high with similar spreads. These plants feature green and yellow foliage with non-showy, creamy white flowers that bloom in the late spring. Hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9, the boxwood shrub needs to be planted in a fully sunny to partly shady location. In colder climates, this shrub should be planted in sites that shelter them from harsh winter weather. Boxwoods are fairly susceptible to leaf spots, blights and root rot. Potential pests include the boxwood mite and the boxwood leaf miner. Boxwoods make excellent shrub borders, foundation plantings and hedges.

Devil's Walking Stick

The devil's walking stick (Aralia spinosa), sometimes called the Hercules club or the prickly ash, earned its name because of the sharp spines that sprout on the branches, stems and leaf stalks. These deciduous shrubs in the Araliaceae family thrive in humusy soils, but can tolerate various soil conditions. Native to eastern regions of the United States (US), these deer resistant shrubs thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. Devil's walking sticks reach up to 20 feet in height and typically have 6- to 10-foot spreads. The green leaves turn a dull purple or yellow color in the autumn, while showy, white blooms appear in late summer. This drought-tolerant plant often attracts mealybugs and aphids.

Oregon Grape Shrubs

Oregon grape shrubs (Mahonia aquifolium), also called Oregon hollygrapes, are evergreens in the Berberidaceae family. Native to the western regions of North America, this plant is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8. Oregon grape shrubs need acidic soils in partly shady to fully shady planting sites that protect them from high winds. This broadleaf shrub blooms bright yellow flowers in April followed by edible berry clusters late in the summer. These berries are often too sour to eat fresh, but are sometimes used to make jellies. Reaching 6-foot high and 5-foot wide, this deer resistant plant is Oregon's state flower. Oregon grape shrubs are vulnerable to rusts and leaf spots.

Creeping Juniper

Creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) is a needled evergreen shrub hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. This low-growing member of the Cupressaceae family only reaches about 1/2 foot high, but spreads out up to 6 feet. Greenish-blue leaves turn a burgundy color during the colder months. Creeping juniper plants prefer fully sunny locations and tolerate hot, arid climates. Potential problems include juniper blight, rust and mites.

Japanese Plum Yew

The Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) is a needled evergreen shrub native to Japan. This Cephalotaxaceae family member thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9 and reaches up to 10-foot tall. Japanese plum yews thrive in partly shady to fully shady locations with well-drained, sandy soils. This non-flowering shrub variety tolerates both heat and drought conditions. The Japanese plum yew is a hardy plant with few disease or pest problems.

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About this Author

Cat Carson has been a writer, editor and researcher for the past decade. She has professional experience in a variety of media, including the Internet, newspapers, newsletters and magazines. Her work has appeared on websites like and, among others. Carson holds a master’s degrees in writing and cultural anthropology, and is currently working on her doctoral degree in psychology.