Battling deer is one of the most common issues gardeners face, especially as deer populations have grown out of control in many suburban areas. The good news is that there are some plants that deer will generally avoid, but be sure to check with your local nursery or garden club about what plants work best in your area since deer palates vary regionally.
Deer typically avoid:
- Strong-smelling plants in the mint, geranium and marigold families
- Any plant in the daffodil family
- Toxic plants such as in the foxglove and nightshade families
- Plants with fuzzy, prickly or sharp leaves
- Most ornamental grasses and ferns.
The most effective way to keep deer away is to install deerproof fencing that is at least 9 feet tall. Deer can jump to amazing heights! There are a variety of designs and the best type for any given area depends on your specific situation. Fencing options include: plastic mesh, electrified poly tape, woven wire and electric fence kits which come equipped with a scented lure.
Commercial repellents can be successful by acting as a scent-based warning that a predator is near or by making plants taste unpleasant. It is best to apply them before you see damage. Deer seem to respond best to sulfurous and blood-based odors. Most of the products wash away in the rain and need to be reapplied often. Some products are "stickier" and last longer. Read the labels carefully.
Using a multifaceted approach to deter deer will help to keep them "on their toes" and may encourage them to consider dining in someone else's garden.
Deer Resistant Plants from Proven Winners