Deer Resistant Plants, Plants They Love, and Plants they Despise

Plants Deer Eat

There are a lot of deer in Ohio.  A LOT.  Recent estimates state that their are about 800,000 in Ohio 2011.  Recent hunting takes out more than 200,000 deer every year, but don’t worry- their breeding supply far exceeds that demand.

I firmly believe that there will be 1,427 deer in my backyard this year coming over for breakfast daily.  We live up against the woods, and I know that they are begging to start chomping on anything that I transplant from the yards of family and friends – including vegetables that are all but seedlings in the window sill this week…  My research has led to these short tips on how to protect those plump red tomatoes from our white-tailed soon-to-be nemesis.

Plants Deer Prefer to Eat in your Ohio Garden and Yard

Deer prefer plants without a whole lot of flavor-so they will pass by plants containing poisonous or irritating chemicals or ones that just smell too strong.  They’ll choose your tomatoes over your onions, and your simple English Ivy over your mint garden.  Here’s a list of common plant names that I’ve cobbled from various web pages at , Gardening in Deer Country, Deer Resistant Landscape Nursery and others.  DEER WILL EAT THESE SO DON’T Try to grow them unprotected!

  • yew
  • arborvitae
  • hemlock
  • rhododendron
  • azalea
  • euonymus
  • burning bush
  • hostas
  • daylillies
  • tulips
  • crocus
  • Balsam Fir
  • Fraser Fir
  • Norway Maple
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Cornelian Dogwood
  • Winged Euonymus
  • Wintercreeper
  • English Ivy
  • Iris (last year this was in the ‘deer will not eat’ list, however, it is now moved up to the EAT list..ugh
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Rhododendrons
  • Evergreen Azaleas
  • Catawba Rhododendron
  • Pinxterbloom Azalea
  • Hybrid Tea Rose
  • Hollyhocks
  • Begonias
  • Hibiscus
  • Mallow
  • Morning Glory
  • Honeysuckle
  • Garden Phlox
  • Black-eyed Susan

Deer Resistant Plants, Flowers, and Shrubs

In my reading and research, I found it interesting that most sites will not tell you that a deer will NEVER eat a particular plant- its just that they won’t eat it if there’s nothing else to eat!  This is a list of various common plants, flowers, shrubs, trees and herbs that they will likely stay away from.

  • Lady Bells
  • Fern
  • Hyssop
  • Mint
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Elephant Ears
  • Summer Forget-Me-Nots
  • Columbine
  • Wormwood
  • Goats Beard
  • Spirea
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Foxglove
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Coral Bells
  • Lavender
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Daffadil
  • Peony
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Most Sages
  • Hens and Chicks
  • Lamb’s Ear
  • Wisteria
  • Coneflower
  • Snapdragon
  • Boxwood
  • Chinese Dogwood
  • Juniper
  • Magnolia
  • Bayberry
  • Blue Spruce
  • Lilac
  • Hyacinth

What Plants will Keep Deer Away from your Garden

OK from what I’ve read- deer do not care if you try to set up a ‘perimeter’ or border around your yard or around your garden with plants that they do not eat.  THIS WILL NOT keep deer away from other intermixed plants!!!  Just because you plant onions at the end of your yard, does not mean that your begonias will be protected. You need other options..

What about Deer Repellents?

Deer Repellents operate the same way as does our above selection of plants- by smell and taste.  Many deer repellents are 100% safe for kids and made from naturally smelly materials.  They are said to be very effective on plants that you just HAVE to have in your yard.  The only problem with deer repellents is that you may smell them too (depending on now good your sniffer is) and that you need to continually spray them month after month, and on new foliage.

A Deer Fence

With our planned vegetable garden this year, I am REALLY considering putting in a simple fence.  Deer fences are intended to be high enough to keep them from jumping over, but light weight enough to only convince them that they should simply move on to easier targets.  Deer fences are recommended to be 8′ fences, made of a lightweight black mesh made a little tighter knit than a chain link fence.  Fence posts only really need to keep it in place- and don’t have to be super duty for excessive weight, or force.

Dealing with Protecting your Garden

So, this year, I hope we’ll be ready for the 1,427 deer in our neighborhood, and that nothing I buy, plant, dig up, transplant, spray or otherwise maintain will be for nothing.  Do you have any suggestions on what I should do?


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My name is Susan, and you have to take what I say with a grain of salt. I live and breathe all things Akron, like to spout out about what I have no business discussing, and would love for you to follow us on facebook. Or better- get my rants via email or RSS every day!
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