List of Deer Resistant Shrubs & Plants

Deer are cute woodland creatures that can quickly turn into garden scourges. Gardeners who live in regions where deer control is an issue must take care in selecting what they plant in their gardens. While most plants are not entirely deer-proof, there are various shrubs and plants that deer typically find unpalatable.

Common Foxglove

Common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is an herbaceous plant native to Europe and hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8. This plant grows between 4 and 8 feet high and prefers acidic, moist soils in partly shady locations. Tube-shaped, flowers with pink, purple or white petals bloom in May and June. Common foxglove works well as border and background plants. Possible diseases include leaf spot and powdery mildew. Japanese beetles, mealy bugs and aphids often infest these plants. The leaves contain a highly poisonous substance called digitalis.

Bayberry

Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is a deciduous shrub winter hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7. Bayberry plants grow up to 10-foot tall with similar spreads. The gray-green leaves are aromatic when crushed. Spring-blooming flowers are a non-showy, drab green color. The blooms are followed by aromatic, gray-white fruits frequently used to make soaps and candles. Bayberry shrubs prefer moist soils in partly shady to fully sunny locations, and are not associated with serious diseases or pest problems. The versatile bayberry is commonly used in shrub borders.

Leopard Plant

Leopard plants (Ligularia dentate) are members of the daisy family (Asteraceae) hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. These herbaceous perennials prefer continuously moist, humusy soils in partly shady to fully shady locations. The yellowish-orange flowers bloom atop 3-foot stems in June and July. Leopard plants bear stalks and veins with a distinctive red-purple color. Heart-shaped leaves emerge red-purple, but the tops turn a greenish-brown with maturity. Potential problems include snails, slugs and leaf wilting during the summer months. Leopard plants grow well by pools, ponds or streams.

Fragrant Sumac

Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) is a low-growing, deciduous shrub that reaches between 2 and 6 feet tall with up to a 10-foot spread. Native to the eastern and southern regions of the United States, fragrant sumac is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. Small yellow flowers bloom in April and are soon followed by red berry clusters. The green leaves turn various shades of purple, red and orange in the fall. While the aromatic leaves look similar to poison ivy, fragrant sumac foliage is non-toxic. This deer resistant shrub does well in various well-drained soils and has no serious potential problems. Fragrant sumac works well as informal hedges and in native plant gardens.

Bee Balm

Bee balm (Melissa officinalis), also called lemon balm, is indigenous to Europe and winter hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7. Small, white or yellow blooms appear in the late summer and quickly attract honey bees. The edible, lemon-scented leaves are often used in teas, soups, sauces and salads. Dried leaves add a nice scent to potpourri or sachets. Bee balm grows in various soil conditions and prefers partly shady to fully sunny planting sites. Bee balm plants sometimes suffer from gray mold, leaf blight, leaf spot or powdery mildew.

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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 eHow.com and GardenGuides.com, among others. Carson holds a master’s degrees in writing and cultural anthropology, and is currently working on her doctoral degree in psychology.