Many people enjoy living where deer roam freely. The sight of a herd of does and fawns grazing on a greenbelt makes some people feel closer to nature. But that same herd of deer can devastate a garden. Short of building tall fences to keep them out, you can't entirely protect your landscape from the ravages of deer. The best option is to choose plants they are less likely to eat. In times of stress even these deer resistant plants may not be safe from being eaten, but they are more likely to survive than other plants the deer prefer.
Plants with strong odors, such as members of the sage family, are less attractive to deer. White, purple, blue, silver and red sage produce both flowers and foliage that turns attractive colors in the fall.
Salvias are another good choice for a deer resistance landscape. Red salvia and blue salvia produce bell-like flowers on tall stalks, making them a striking addition to a landscape. The fragrance of these plants may be associated with a bitter or strong taste. But the aroma is not unpleasant to people.
Aromatic herbs such as oregano, dill and rosemary add attractive foliage to the garden, but deer don't like the spicy scent or taste of these plants. Marigolds and golden aster are two flowering plants that deer avoid.
Plants with sticky sap such as milkweeds are unattractive to deer. Members of the prickly poppy family are also usually avoided. White prickly poppy, Texas prickly poppy and Mexican prickly poppy produce large papery blossoms or stems covered with fine stickers.
If you live in a climate with mild winters, plant a variety of cactus. Barrel cactus, prickly pear and claret cup cactus will reward you with blooms in the summer. Deer will not eat them.
Deer will also usually avoid prickly shrubs such as pyracantha or holly, but they will eat the leaves and blooms of roses, no matter how prickly the vines or bushes.
Deer will usually avoid toxic flowers and shrubs such as datura or opium poppy. Larkspur, bluebonnet, dusty miller, nightshade, lantana and ox-eye daisy are other plants that can make deer ill if they eat the plant , so they usually avoid these. If you use these plants in your landscaping, keep pets and children away from them.