Deer Resistant Perennials

Published On: July 11th, 2022

avoid deer by your garden with deer resistant perennials

Dealing with our large population of deer in southeastern Wisconsin can be a challenge. While they are lovely to observe in the wild, they are infuriating to observe up close in our gardens as they browse our favorite plants. Deer resistant plants include those which we’ve observed to be less palatable or less desirable to deer.

Minimize deer visitation by planting perennials from the deer resistant list, and by avoiding perennials from the deer delicatessen list.

Note: When dealing with deer browsing it is important to state that these plants are deer resistant and not deer proof.

deer buck avoiding garden planted with deer resistant perennials

Deer Resistant Perennials List

FS=Full Sun; PS=Part Sun

  • Yarrow (Achillea) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Anise-Hyssop (Agastache) – pungent scent and flavor – (FS)
  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla) – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • Ornamental Onion (Allium) – pungent scent and flavor – (FS–PS)
  • Bluestar (Amsonia) – Milky sap – (FS)
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema) – toxic – (PS)
  • Goatsbeard (Aruncus) – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • Milkweed, All (Asclepias) – toxic – (FS)
  • Astilbe (Astilbe) – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • Masterwort (Astrantia) – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • False Indigo (Baptisia) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Brunnera (Brunnera) – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • Calamint (Calamintha) – pungent scent and flavor – (PS)
  • Wild Senna (Cassia) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Turtlehead (Chelone) – unattractive flavor – (PS)
  • Coreopsis (Coreopsis) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Snakeroot/Fairy Candles – (Cimicifuga/Actaea) unattractive taste (PS)
  • Bleeding Heart (Dicentra/Lamprocapnos) – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis) – toxic – (PS)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Joe-Pye-Weed (Eupatorium) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Spurge (Euphorbia) – toxic – (FS–PS)
  • Ferns, most – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • Blanketflower (Gaillardia) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Perennial Geranium (Geranium) – unattractive taste – (FS–PS)
  • Herbs, most – pungent scent and flavor – (FS)
  • Grass, Ornamental – unattractive taste – (FS–PS)
  • Lenten Rose (Helleborus) – toxic – (PS)
  • Coralbells (Heuchera) – unattractive taste – (PS)
  • Siberian Iris (Iris) – unattractive taste – (FS–PS)
  • Lamium (Lamium) – unappealing taste – (PS)
  • Daisies (Leucanthemum) – unattractive taste – (FS)
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) – unattractive taste – (FS-PS)
  • Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia) – unappealing taste – (FS–PS)
  • Beebalm (Monarda) – pungent scent and flavor – (FS)
  • Daffodil (Narcissus) – toxic – (FS–PS)
  • Catmint (Nepeta) – pungent scent and flavor – (FS–PS)
  • Peony (Paeonia) – unattractive flavor – (FS–PS)
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia) – pungent scent and flavor – (FS)
  • Lungwort (Pulmonaria) – unattractive flavor – (PS)
  • Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum) – pungent scent and flavor – (FS)
  • Black-Eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia) – unattractive flavor note: rabbit will eat – (FS)
  • Ornamental Sage (Salvia) – pungent scent and flavor – (FS–PS)
  • Silphium (Silphium) – unattractive flavor – (FS)
  • Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium) – unattractive flavor – (FS–PS)
  • Stachys (Stachys) – unattractive taste – (FS–PS)
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia) – unattractive flavor – (FS–PS)
  • Toad Lily (Tricyrtis) – unappealing taste – (PS)
  • Ironweed (Vernonia) – unattractive taste note: rabbit will eat – (FS)
  • Veronica (Veronica) – unattractive taste – (FS–PS)
  • Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum) – unappealing taste – (FS–PS)
strawberry seduction yarrow achillea are deer resistant plants

Yarrow (Achillea) ‘Strawberry Seducation’

narcissus pink daffodils are deer resistant plants

Daffodil (Narcissus)

rudbeckia black eyed susan are deer resistant plants

Black-Eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia)

Deer Delicatessen List

Deer LOVE these plants:

  • Hosta (Hosta)
  • Tall Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
  • Lilies (Lilium)
  • Tulips (Tulipa)
  • Daylily – flower buds (Hemerocallis)

How Deer Repellants Work

If deer get hungry enough, they may browse on even plants from the resistant list, so If you continue to experience damage there is also the option of using deer repellents. We carry several types of deer repellents, all of which are completely natural and harmless to the environment. Deer are prey animals and rely on all their senses to detect danger in their surroundings.

When strongly scented animal repellents are applied in the garden, deer tend to shy away from the area because they feel vulnerable when they cannot use their sense of smell to perceive danger. Deer repellents deter browsing through ingredients that have strong smells. Most utilize egg solids, and many also incorporate garlic and strongly scented essential oils. The smell will be unpleasant to the human nose for a couple of hours but will remain unappealing to deer for up to three weeks. During periods of rapid plant growth or heavy rains more frequent application may be necessary.

Deer can become acclimated to even the most effective repellents, so we recommend alternating repellents if deer populations are high in your area.

Deer photos courtesy of Kathy Heck.