Quick Picks for a Deer Resistant Garden

Many gardeners have problems with Deer and other vegetarian wildlife. There aren’t any plants that are truly Deer proof. Fortunately, there are varieties that are less favorable or what we refer to as resistant. Any plant with an offensive aroma will irritate their sense of smell. They also tend to avoid plants that are fuzzy, prickly or bitter. Below are some of the best options to try.

Annuals: Ageratum, Alyssum, Dusty Miller, Marigolds, Mints, Sage, Salvia (including perennials), Verbena and Zinnias.

Perennials: Artemesia, Barrenwort, Cranesbill, Dicentra, Foxglove, Hellebores, Heuchera, Lavender, Lily-of-the-Valley, Nepeta, Peony, Spurge, Ferns and Grasses.

Bulbs: Alliums, Chives, Daffodils, Hyacinth and Iris.

Trees and Shrubs: Barberry, Boxwood, Juniper, Holly, Lilac, Japanese Maple, Rugosa Roses, Spirea and Viburnum.

There are several products on the market that have a repulsive odor and/or bitter taste when sprayed on plants. Some people have the best results by alternating the use of multiple products. Irish Spring soap placed on stakes in a flower bed has been known to be offensive also. Tonics made with hot peppers tend to keep them from taking more than one bite. Generally, the worst damage occurs in the spring and fall. However, in a bad winter the Deer may browse on trees and shrubs when their favorite food is buried by heavy snow. Even then you can try spraying a homemade or purchased repellent on your plants.


The following recipe is for a homemade tonic. This tonic may also be effective for keeping away Rabbits, Squirrels and Woodchucks.

2 Cups Water, ¼ Cup Vaseline, Cayenne or any hot pepper and 1 teaspoon dish soap.

Boil for 5 minutes. If using raw peppers strain the liquid. Cool and pour into a spray bottle. Spray your plants. You may have to reapply after prolonged or hard rains. In a hurry, try sprinkling the ground hot peppers on the soil around the perimeter of your garden bed.

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