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Deer-Resistant Perennial Plants & Flowers

By Kate Carpenter ; Updated September 21, 2017
Hungry deer can devastate your landscape.
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You don't have to be living in a rural environment for deer to enter your yard and begin feasting on your plants. Deer can invade even urban areas, sometimes enticed by the plants and flowers you grow. Though no plant is safe from a starving deer, there are many perennial plants and flowers that are generally unappealing to the animal.


Nothing is more disheartening for gardeners than to discover the flowers on their perennial plants have been systematically eaten off by deer. There are flowers deer prefer, and flowers deer will avoid. For springtime flowers, grow columbine, baptistia, bleeding heart, dianthus, primrose and bergenia. Summer blooms that are deer-resistant include yarrow, coneflower, tickseed, foxglove, bee balm, dianthus, blanket flower and daisy varieties. Many deer-resistant perennial flowering plants have long, extended bloom times in addition to attracting beneficial insects, butterflies and birds to your garden.


The strong aroma of many perennial herbs repel deer. Mint and thyme varieties, sage, oregano, tansy, chives and lavender -- strategically planted in your garden or landscape -- can deter deer from eating less deer-resistant plants. Grow these herbs as borders or among your vegetables and other plants to thwart deer from browsing and feasting. Lavender is often planted close to rose bushes to repel deer from devouring the rose blossoms.


Along with evergreen shrubs, there are several ornamental perennial shrubs that will brighten your landscape without inviting deer. Flowering quince, butterfly bush, magnolia, heather, boxwood, forsythia and old-fashioned weigela are attractive shrubbery for landscapes plagued by intrusive deer. Most shrubs that repel deer have some level of toxicity, which is why the deer are repelled, so caution should be taken if children or pets have access to these shrubs.


Grow deer-resistant flowering perennial bulbs for bursts of color throughout your landscape from spring through fall. Spring-blooming bulbs that deer avoid include daffodils, iris, peony, anemone, allium, camassia, hyacinth and crocus. Perennial summer-blooming bulbs that that are normally safe from devouring deer include calla lily, dahlia, windflower, foxtail lily, liatris, bluebell, autumn crocus, dahlia and canna lily.