Deer are found in all areas of Texas, and the animals love to make a meal out of the tender leaves and stems on all types of flower plants. The gardener needs to pick plants that have features deer do not like (strong fragrances, tough leaves with sharp points, and plants with a bitter taste), and plant them so they are the first ones the animals will come in contact with. One bite or a whiff of the aromas and they will move on.
Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata), also known as algerita, Laredo mahonia, Laredo Oregon-grape and trifoliate barberry, is a member of the barberry family. The plant is an evergreen, flowering shrub that grows from 3 to 8 feet tall with gray-green or blue-green leaves that resemble those of a holly plant. The abundant yellow flowers are fragrant and small, and bloom in February and March to be followed by red berries from May to July. Agarita is found in south coastal and Trans-Pecos Texas. The plant likes full sun or partial shade and a rocky or limestone soil that is moist to dry. Birds will come for the fruit, but agarita is highly deer resistant.
Texas frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora), also known as Turkey tangle fogfruit and Frogfruit, is a member of the verbena family. The plant is a semi-evergreen flowering ground cover that grows 3 to 6 inches tall with white flowers that bloom from May through October. Plant Texas frogfruit in full sun or partial shade and a soil that is moist to dry. Butterflies and other pollinating insects are attracted by the flowers, and the plant is moderately deer resistant and found throughout the state.
Mountain marigold (Tagetes lemmonii), also known as Copper Canyon daisy, is a member of the aster family. The plant has the strong aroma of mint, passionfruit and camphor. It grows up to 4 feet high and 6 feet wide with lace-like leaves that reach 2 to 6 inches long. The flowers have dark-yellow centers surrounded by yellow-gold petals and measure 2 inches across. Plant mountain marigold in full sun and a soil that is moist to dry and well-drained. The flower is hardy in USDA zones 8 and 9 in Texas. Bees and butterflies love the nectar and deer will stay away.
Rock rose (avonia lasiopetala), also known as rose pavonia, pavonia and rose mallow, is a member of the mallow family. The plant grows up to 4 feet tall with green oval or lobed leaves up to 2 inches long and rose colored flowers that measure 1-1/2 inches wide that bloom from spring to fall. The flowers are followed by a seed capsule containing five seeds. Rock rose is found from Edwards Plateau through Rio Grande Plains to adjacent Mexico. Plant it in full sun or partial shade and a dry soil. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted by the flowers and the plant is considered moderately deer resistant.