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Deer Resistant Plants

Deer Resistant Plants

We often get contacted by people who are looking for plants that are deer or rabbit resistant. More recently though, there seems to be a rise in the number of local gardeners searching for something that deer won't eat, meaning that numbers of these adorable animals are on the rise. The main reasons for this are due to increased woodland cover, no natural predation, agricultural changes and more obviously, milder winters.

Deer will eat most things if they're hungry enough, especially younger shoots and because they're primarily nocturnal, you will never catch them. There are a few plants that remain relatively more deer resistant than others; rabbits on the other hand will eat anything but tend to avoid aromatic plants, ones with prickles and spines and tough, leathery leaves.

If you really wish to keep deer out of your garden, then a good sturdy fence at least 2 metres high will be the best form of defence. You can increase the effectiveness of existing fences and walls by digging a trench around the outside of them. If you wish to protect plants from rabbits, then you will need to use netting.

Here is a list of plants that tend to be more deer resistant:

  • Agapanthus
  • Aquilegia
  • Bamboos
  • Berberis (not purple-leaved types)
  • Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush)
  • Buxus (box)
  • Chaenomeles (Japanese quince)
  • Choisya ternata
  • Cistus
  • Clematis
  • Cornus sanguinea (dogwood)
  • Cortaderia selloana (pampas grass)
  • Cotinus coggygria (not purple-leaved forms)
  • Daphne
  • Delphinium
  • Digitalis (foxglove)
  • Echinops (globe thistles)
  • Euphorbia (spurges)
  • Forsythia
  • Gaultheria shallon
  • Gooseberry
  • Helleborus (hellebores)
  • Hippophae rhamnoides
  • Hydrangea
  • Jasminum (jasmine - winter & summer types)
  • Kerria japonica
  • Kniphofia (red hot pokers)
  • Laurus nobilis (sweet bay)
  • Lavandula (lavender)
  • Leucanthemum x superbum
  • Lonicera spp. (honeysuckles)
  • Lonicera nitida
  • Lupinus (lupins)Magnolia
  • Mahonia
  • Monarda didyma (bergamot)
  • Narcissus (daffodils)
  • Nepeta x faassenii (catmint)
  • Nerine
  • Philadelphus (mock orange)
  • Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)
  • Potentilla fruticosa
  • Rhododendron (deciduous azaleas)
  • Rhubarb
  • Ribes (currants)
  • Robinia pseudoacacia (false acacia)
  • Romneya coulteri (Californian poppy)
  • Rosa rugosa, R. spinosissima
  • Spiraea japonica
  • Viburnum (decidious types)
  • Vinca major, V. minor
  • Weigela
  • Yucca