Beautiful Deer Resistant Perennials You Must Try This Year (2023)

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At the end of the season last year, we had eleven deer standing in our “deer-proof” vegetable garden. Deer are a challenge. The best way to stop deer from eating everything in your yard and garden is to figure out what they don’t like and plant masses of them. Here we have provided a list of deer-resistant perennials you can plant in your gardens that will bloom year after year.

You can add so many deer-resistant perennial plants to your borders and beds; our list below is not exhaustive, but it does provide a starting point if you plan to build a deer-resistant garden.

Deer looking over its shoulder at the camera person.

Characteristics Of Deer Resistant Perennials

No plant is entirely deer-proof, but generalizations about plants that discourage deer from your garden can be made. Deer-resistant plants tend to fall into one of the three categories below:

Fuzzy Texture – Deer tend to avoid hairy and prickly plants due to their texture.

Poisonous – Deer will not eat poisonous plants in most situations. Hungry deer with no other options may try to eat toxic plants, but it’s not common.

Scented plants – Plants like lavender emit odors that deter deer.

Avoid planting perennials that deer consider candy – hydrangeas, hostas, and daylilies, to name a few.

Deer eating plants in a woodland garden.
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Two Very Important Pieces of Information Before You Plant

Some of the plants on this list are poisonous to mammals, including you and me, our pets, and our children, so please keep that in mind before you plant.

Some plants on this list may be considered invasive in your region, so check before you plant.

Deer-resistant perennial plants to add to your yard and garden

Here is our list of 24 perennial plants you can plant all around your yard and not worry too much about deer damage. Generally, these are flowers that deer won’t eat. A hungry deer – well, anything is possible.

Abelia

This large evergreen flowering shrub grows into an impressive rounded bush. The blooms are made of bells that last many months. Flowers with lovely, round leaves bloom in white, pink, or lavender. 

Abelia is the perfect planting choice for deer-proof hedges. The leaves are dense and thick. 

  • Scientific name: Abelia x grandflori
  • Type of plant: Broadleaf evergreen flowering shrub
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 6-9
  • Description: 1/2 to 1-inch pink flowers in clusters of one to four that bloom in mid-summer and continue until the first frost of fall. Glossy dark green leaves turn bronze in Autumn. Flowers can be white, pink, or lavender.
  • Height and spread: 6 feet high x 3-5 feet wide.

Where to Plant Abelia

Plant abelia in full sun or partial shade in well-draining soil. Use along a foundation or in a border or create a hedge.

Branch of Linnaea grandiflora or Abelia grandiflora shrub covered with small glossy oval leaves and clusters of pink tinged white bell shaped flowers.

Astilbe

Astilbe planted in mass collections around a woodland border looks fantastic. It is a show-stopping sight when in bloom.

The plants require very little care as they are resistant to diseases and rarely are impacted by pest pressure.

  • Scientific name: Astilbe x arendsii
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 4-8
  • Description: Big feathery plumes in colors from pure white, creamy white, pink, salmon, and dark red. The blooms make long-lasting cut flowers.
  • Height & spread: 1-4 feet tall x 2 feet wide.

Where to Plant Astilbe

Plant these flowers in partial shade, where they will receive adequate moisture. If the roots dry out, the leaves will shrivel. These plants look lovely planted along a woodland border or even in a shaded perennial border. Leave plants over winter to add texture to the winter garden.

Astilbe flowers of pink, salmon, and white.

Azure Monkshood

Azure monkshoods are one of the most deer-resistant perennial flowers you can grow in your garden.

All parts of this plant are poisonous, from the roots to the flowers. Big showy flowers are on display from late summer until early fall. Deer steer clear of monkshood and will stay clear even when there is nothing else for them to eat.

  • Scientific name: Aconitum carmichaelii
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-7
  • Description: Beautiful spikes of dark blue flowers. Leaves are dark green and glossy and cut into three or five lobes. The leaves can turn reddish in the fall.
  • Height & Spread: 2-4 feet tall x 1 1/2 feet wide

Where to Plant Azure Monkshood

 Monkshoods are easy to grow in the sun, or light-dappled shade, with their soil consistently rich and moist. The flowers grow tall but do not need support, but it is a good idea to plant them in a wind-sheltered location. Monkhood flowers are striking additions in perennial and mixed borders, especially in shaded areas.

Closeup of an azure monkshood flower.

Bee Balm

Bee balm, also called monarda, bergamot, or Oswego tea is quick growing and attractive.

  • Scientific name: Monarda didyma
  • Type of plant: Aromatic herb
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 4-9
  • Description: Tall stalks with clusters of flowers, usually in red but also in pink, white, and lavender.
  • Height and spread: Height 2-3 feet with a distance of 1-2 feet.

Where to Plant Bee Balm

Plant in consistently moist soil in full sun. Good for naturalizing woodland and bog areas.

Blue False Indigo

Low maintenance, tolerant of heat and drought, and almost pest and disease-free, rarely needs staking or division, and it’s a deer-resistant perennial!

Blue false indigo may be the plant you need if you want a “Wow” factor but do not want a lot of upkeep.

  • Scientific name: Baptisia australis
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-9
  • Description: Spikes of blue pea-like flowers massed together on tall, strong stems.
  • Height & Spread: 3-4 feet tall x 3-4 feet wide

Where to Plant Blue False Indigo

Plant blue false indigo in a sunny, well-drained spot with not overly rich soil. Plants that are grown in the shade may require staking. These flowers do well planted together in a large display or in the spring perennial garden bed and borders.

Bright blue false indigo flowers with vibrant green leaves.

Big Root Geranium

Big root geranium, also known as scented cranesbill, is a tough and vigorous low-maintenance plant that will form a ground cover with lovely dense clusters of flowers.

When the plants are bruised, they emit a smell that deer do not like.

  • Scientific name: Geranium macrorrhizum
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-8
  • Description: Dense clusters of bright magenta/ purple flowers, dark red sepals, and light green soft fuzzy leaves are divided into seven or eight-lobed segments. In the fall, the leaves can turn red, deep rose, or yellow or remain evergreen in mild climates. Flowers bloom in early summer until the first frost.
  • Height & Spread: 1-2 ft x 1-3 ft

Where to Plant Big Root Geraniums

Plant big root geranium in the sun or light shade with well-draining soil rich in organic humus. These plants look beautiful when arranged around the edge of shaded woodland. Plant them in front of tall, bright flowers like foxglove for a stunning display.

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susans are one of the most cheerful and popular wildflowers. Although not a true perennial, black-eyed Susans readily self-seed year after year.

These plants are considered biennials or short-lived perennials, but I have included them because they are incredibly deer-resistant and perform in the garden year after year.

Deer avoid black-eyed Susans due to their hairy leaves.

  • Scientific name: Rudbeckia hirta
  • Type of plant: Short-lived Perennial Wildflower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-7
  • Description: Long-lasting bright yellow flowers, dark centers on tall stems, and dark green hairy leaves. Flowers will bloom from summer until mid-fall.
  • Height and spread: 1-3 feet tall with a 2-3 feet distance.
  • Where to plant: Black-eyed Susans thrive in poor soil and are drought-tolerant. Plant in full sun in a wildflower garden, the back of a perennial border.

Where to Plant Black-Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susans thrive in poor soil and are drought-tolerant. Plant in full sun in a wildflower garden, the back of a perennial border.

Black-eyed Susans make lovely cut flowers for displays or dry exceptionally well. See our post on the best-cut flowers to grow in your garden and our complete guide on drying flowers for display.

Learn More:

Black-eyed Susans against a rustic wall.

Blanket Flower

Blanket flowers have ample bloom time from late spring until mid-fall. As a result, these flowers make an outstanding center-of-the-border flower.

  • Scientific name: Gallardia x grandiflora
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-9
  • Description: Stunning two-toned flowers in shades of gold, white, purple, wine red, and brown against dark green foliage.
  • Height and spread: 1-3 feet tall x 2-3 feet wide

Where to Plant Blanket Flowers

Plant blanket flowers in full sun in well-drained, rich soil. Blanket flowers are at home in the center of perennial borders, garden beds, and containers. They make lovely cut flowers all through the growing season.

Honey bee sips nectar from gaillardia flower outdoors close up.

Boxwood

Boxwoods are the signature plants in formal gardens. They can be used as garden hedges when planted together or as decorative accents when shaped and trimmed.

These evergreen shrubs emit a strong odor that deer hate.

  • Scientific name: Buxus
  • Type of plant: Perennial evergreen shrub
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 4-9
  • Description: Boxwoods have small tough leaves that form tightly packed plants on hard, woody stems. They can be clipped into hedges, balls, or topiaries.
  • Height and spread: 2-10 feet tall x 3+ feet wide

Where to plant boxwoods

Boxwoods do best in semi-shade locations where the soil drains freely. They do not tolerate wet roots and should be planted with the top of the root ball just at the soil level. There are many different types of boxwoods, from dwarf to tall, so be sure to pick the one that is right for your gardening purposes.

3 small bright green boxwoods.

Cinquefoil

Cinquefoil bushes make excellent additions to shrub gardens. Bushes of Cinquefoil provide much-needed food and nectar for bees and butterflies, but deer will avoid it due to its hairy leaves.

  • Scientific name: Potentilla fruticosa
  • Type of plant: Evergreen flowering shrub
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 2-7
  • Description: Saucer-shaped bright yellow flowers atop fine-textured silky gray-green foliage.
  • Height and spread: 2-5 feet tall with a distance of 3-5 feet

Where to Plant Cinquefoil

Plant cinquefoil in full sun or a partially shaded spot where the soil is fertile and well-draining.

Closeup of a cinquefoil shrub.

Coneflower

Coneflowers are easy perennials to grow in your yard or garden, returning buckets of flowers without much care and fuss.

These lovely blooms attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and beneficial insects to your garden. The flowers are also excellent for cutting and drying.

Deers tend to resist coneflowers, but the deer may partake if they are the only meal in town.

  • Scientific name: Echinacea purpurea
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-7
  • Description: Daisy-like flowers on strong long stems. Flowers have drooping petals that surround a distinct raised central cone. Flowers come in purple shades and can bloom with white and pink flowers. 
  • Height and spread: 3 to 4 feet tall with a distance of 2-4 feet.

Where to Plant Coneflowers

Plant coneflowers in full sun to part-shade in a wildflower garden or at the back of a perennial border. Plants are fairly drought tolerant but do bloom better with regular watering.

Lovely brghtly colored coneflowers growing in a deer proof garden.

Daffodil

Daffodils are likely the most well-recognized spring-blooming flower. Easy to grow, requires very little care, has few pests, and tolerates a wide range of growing conditions.

  • Scientific name: Narcissus
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower (bulb)
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-9
  • Description: Nodding white or yellow flowers with several flowers per stem.
  • Height and spread: 6-30 inches tall and a 6-12 inches distance.

Where to plant daffodils

Plant in rich, well-draining soil in full sun. Plant smaller daffodils in rock gardens and larger clusters under hedges, against walls or fences for a “wow” look.

Daffodils bloom in a deer proof garden.

Fringed Bleeding Heart

Bleeding hearts are easy-to-grow, long-blooming, deer-resistant perennials to add to your garden. A workhorse for the shade perennial garden, the flowers will bloom from spring until the first frost.

Deer avoid bleeding hearts due to their poisonous sap.

Hummingbirds adore bleeding hearts.

  • Scientific name: Dicentra sp.
  • Type of plant: Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-9
  • Description: Mounds of gray-green/blueish deeply cut leaves with arching succulent-like flower stems—several heart-shaped flowers in shades of red, white, or pink drip from each stalk.
  • Height: 1-2 ft x 18 inches

Where to Plant Bleeding Hearts

Fringed bleeding heart enjoys cool roots but requires good drainage. A partly shaded spot is ideal for planting. Fertile soil with lots of organic matter will help your plants thrive. These plants look fantastic grown in shady rock gardens. The plants will look right in light-shaded woodland areas or shade gardens. (so long as drainage is good).

Learn More: See our post on how to grow healthy and robust bleeding heart plants in your backyard.

Closeup of bleeding heart flowers.

Lambs Ear

Lamb’s ear is usually grown for its unique foliage. The silvery-green greenery of Lamb’s ear pairs wonderfully with perennial plants like iris and roses.

  • Scientific name:  Stachys byzantina
  • Type of plant: Perennial ground cover
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 4-9
  • Description: Mullein-like silvery leaves that are soft and wooly with small purplish flower spikes.

Height and spread: 1 1/2 feet to 2 feet tall with a spread of 2 feet. 

Where to Plant Lambs Ear

 Plant in hot, well-drained soil.

Lavender, English

Deer hate lavender. I’ve seen our herd of backyard hopping deer purposely avoiding it as they wander through our yard. The lavender we planted around our garden isn’t enough of a deterrent to keep them out, but they do avoid munching on the fragrant flowers and leaves.

  • Scientific name: Lavandula Angustifolia
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flowering Shrub
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 6-9
  • Description: Spires of bright purple, light purple, or white flowers against gray-green leaves. Fragrant foliage is deer resistant without blooms.
  • Height and spread: 1-4 feet tall with a distance of 2-4 feet.

Where to Plant Lavender

Plant in full sun in slightly alkaline soils. Stony, well-drained, and relatively poor soils are ideal for growing lavender. Lavender looks beautiful in a herb garden, or use it as a perimeter hedge around your vegetable garden.

Learn More about Lavender: See our following posts for tips and trips to grow and use lavender around your home:

The frame is filled with lavender flowers growing closely together.

Oriental Poppies

An old-fashioned garden favorite, poppies are easy-to-grow plants that provide showy blooms in return for very little upkeep.

  • Scientific name: Papaver oriental
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-9
  • Description: Enormous, brightly colored orange, pink, salmon, and red (sometimes white) blooms with black centers on tall stems. The flowers have a crepe paper-like texture. The foliage has deeply lobed margins and is hairy in texture.
  • Height and spread: 2-4 feet tall with a spread of several feet

Where to Plant Poppies

Plant poppies in well-draining soil in full sun. They look magnificent planted in mass in a field or meadow.

Learn More: Check out our guide to growing my favorite type of poppy, the Iceland poppy!

Poppy flowers on field and sunny day with a bright blue sky.

Peony

Peonies are another old-fashioned cottage garden staple. These bold romantic flowers, with their big ruffly blooms and strong scent, are always a welcome sight. 

These are one of my absolute favorite plants; although the blooms are short-lived, they are so spectacular during their flowering period that it’s worth it.

Deer detest the smell!

  • Scientific name: Paeonia officinalis
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-8
  • Description: Big ruffly crinkled blooms on semi-strong stems that come in pink, bright pink, white, red, and maroon.
  • Height and spread: 2-4 feet tall with a distance of 2-4 feet.

Where to Plant Peonies

Plant in full sun to partial shade in well-draining soil. Use peonies in big, bold displays around foundations or use them as hedges. They also look great at the back of a large perennial border.

Bright-pink peonies blooming.

Red Hot Poker

Also known as torch flowers or torch lilies (not true lilies), the red hot pokers are tall, showy flower spikes in bright orange, red and yellow colors.

  • Scientific name: Kniphofia
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-7
  • Description: Tall spikes of brightly colored flowers that resemble a lighted torch.
  • Height and spread: 3-4ft tall x 2-3ft wide.

Where to Plant Red Hot Poker Plants

Plant in well-draining, composite-rich soil in full sun. These flowers do best at the back of a border due to their height.

Torch lilies in bloom together in the garden.

Red Valerian

Red valerian (also called devils beard) flowers are brightly colored and densely clustered perennials. Devil’s Beard is a very low-maintenance perennial rarely bothered by pests or diseases.

  • Scientific name: Centranthus
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-7
  • Description: Dense clusters of deep pink to crimson flowers atop oval green foliage.
  • Height and spread: 3 feet tall with a distance of 2-3 feet

Where to Plant Red Valerian

Red valerian thrives in neutral well-drained soils in full sun. It will tolerate partial or lightly dappled shade. It makes an excellent mid-border plant, but it will also grow well in walls, rock gardens, and seaside gardens. Very drought tolerant but blooms best with regular watering.

Red valerian blooming in a deer resistant flower meadow.

Russian Sage

Handsome easy-to-grow Russian sage flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and a whole list of beneficial insects to the garden.

Deer resist sage plants due to the flowers’ scent and the leaves texture.

  • Scientific name: Salvia x sylvestris
  • Type of plant: Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 4-9
  • Description: Clumping perennials with solid vertical purple spikes of vivid flowers in shades of purple on silvery foliage.
  • Height and spread: 2-3 feet tall with a distance of 1 foot

Where to Plant Russian Sage

Plant Russian sage in well-drained fertilized soil in full sun. The plants can tolerate late shade but may need help with staking. Once established, sage will tolerate drought very well. Plant sages in formal beds with flowers like pinks or bright hardy geraniums. The plants look right at home in a rock garden or herb garden.

Learn More: Did you know Russian sage can be used as a fabric dye? Check out our post on natural fabric dyes to learn more!

Sage flowers blooming in a garden.

Scarlet Monardella

Red. That’s the best description of this stunning flower. Red, red, red. It is the quintessential red!

This firey-colored spikey flower is a native plant of California and is a showstopper in any rocky or craggy garden. Hummingbirds will flock to these flowers.

Scarlet Monnarella is called Coyote Mint, Hummingbird Mint, and Hummingbird Monardella.

  • Scientific name: Monardella macrantha
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flowering Evergreen
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 6-9B
  • Description: Low-growing green foliage with bright-red tubular flowers that shoot upwards.
  • Height and spread: 3-4 inches tall with a 6-8 inches distance.

Where to plant Scarlet Mondarella

Plant Scarlet Monardella in full sun with well-draining soil in rock gardens, or use these plants for xeriscaping.

Virginia Bluebells

Deer dislike bluebells, but bees and butterflies will flock to your garden for this early spring treat.

  • Scientific name: Mertensia virginica
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-8
  • Description: Trumpet-shaped blue blooms on smooth rounded gray-green/blue-green leaves.
  • Height and spread: 2 feet tall with a distance of 2 feet.

Where to Plant Bluebells

Plant Virginia bluebells in moist soil in partial shade in woodland gardens or under open trees like oak. Bluebells planted en masse make for a wonderful springtime show.

Deer resistant bluebell flowers up close that show the bell-like flower clusters.

Yarrow

Yarrows are sturdy, vigorous perennials belonging to the daisy family.

Yarrows can be aggressive weedy plants, so be sure to find cultivars bred for flower beds and gardens or try to remove seed heads before the plants can re-seed themselves.

  • Scientific name: Achillea millefolium
  • Type of plant: Perennial Flower
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 3-9
  • Description: Tiny flowers about 1/4 inch across bloom in dense clusters atop tall stems. Flowers come in white, red, pink, salmon, and yellow and sit on top of lacy foliage in green or gray-green.
  • Height and spread: 1-2 feet tall with a 2-5 feet distance.

Where to Plant Yarrow

Plant yarrows in sunny spots in mixed borders with other plants that do well in the sun. Yarrows like poor soil, but it must be well draining. Yarrow looks wonderful, planted in big displays in multiple colors. And I CAN confirm deer will not eat yarrow. We have a very large swath of native yarrow in our back acre, and deer truly avoid it.

Vibrant pink yarrow planted as a border.

Perennial Deer Resistant Plants

So that was the list of deer-resistant perennial plants. If you have deer wandering through your gardens and munching on the foilage as they go, try planting a few suggestions from this list.

Let us know how it goes!

An update:

Is Larkspur deer resistant? What about delphinium?

We’ve had readers reach out and add a few additions to our list. Both larkspur and delphinium are deer-resistant. The sharp-pointed leaves and heavy scent create an effective barrier to keep deer away. Larkspur plants are also toxic to deer and other grazing animals.

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