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22 Best Deer-Resistant Shrubs To Grow

Add these reliable deer-proof shrubs to your landscape to prevent unwanted damage and stress.

Contributors: Janet Loughrey

If you live in a suburban or rural area with a large deer population, you’ve likely experienced the frustration of deer grazing on your favorite plants. There’s nothing more discouraging than seeing the promise of emerging foliage and plump flower buds being damaged by these tenacious creatures. 

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Though you can’t completely eliminate the problem unless you install a deer-proof fence around your property (which can be expensive), one way to minimize damage is to plant varieties that deer find distasteful. Here are some of the best deer-resistant bushes to try in your landscape.

deer resistant boxwood shrub

1. Boxwood

Sprinter® Boxwood (Buxus microphylla)

This versatile evergreen shrub adds year-round color, structure and texture to the landscape. Boxwood can be used to edge pathways and borders, and is highly amenable to shearing into formal hedging and topiaries. Sprinter® is one of the best fast-growing deer-resistant shrubs, with a compact habit suitable for containers and small spaces.

Hardy in zones 5-9, full sun to full shade, 2-4’ tall and wide

deer proof bluebeard bush

2. Bluebeard

Beyond Midnight® Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis)

Bluebeard is a deciduous shrub with dazzling blue flowers that bloom from late summer to early fall, at a time of year when few other shrubs are flowering. Beyond Midnight® has glossy dark green foliage and deep blue flowers, with a compact habit suitable for smaller yards.

Hardy in zones 5-9, full sun, 2-2'6” tall and wide

deer resistant butterfly bush

3. Butterfly Bush

‘Miss Molly’ Butterfly Bush (Buddleia x)

While butterfly bush can be invasive in some regions, ‘Miss Molly’ is a sterile variety that won’t self sow. The deep pink flowers bloom over an exceptionally long time, from mid-summer into fall, and are highly attractive to butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators. Plant this compact deciduous shrub in a butterfly border, container or mass in the landscape.

Hardy in zones 5-9, full sun, 4-5’ tall and wide

deer resistant spirea

4. Spirea

Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea (Spirea japonica)

Spirea is an easy-care deciduous shrub that is especially versatile in the landscape. The emerging leaves of Double Play® Candy Corn® start out bright red, fading to pineapple yellow. New growth occurs throughout the growing season, providing dramatic contrast to the rose-purple flowers that occur from spring into summer. Use this compact variety as low hedging, for edging pathways, in containers or massed in the landscape.

Hardy in zones 4-8, full sun to part sun, 1'6"-2' tall and 1'6" to 2'6” wide


5. Viburnum

Brandywine Viburnum (Viburnum nudum)

This shrub has breathtaking berries and glossy leaves that turn dark maroon-red in autumn. Use it for hedging or as a specimen plant for late fall color. Plus, Brandywine has good berry production even without another pollinator nearby. 

Hardy in zones 5-9, full sun to part sun, 5-6’ tall and wide


6. Deutzia

Yuki Cherry Blossom® Deutzia (Deutzia x)

Deutzia is a low-maintenance deciduous shrub with clusters of fragrant bell-shaped flowers in spring. Yuki Cherry Blossom®, the first pink flowered ‘Nikko’ type deutzia, is one of the best small deer-resistant shrubs, with dark green foliage and rich burgundy-purple fall color. Plant this diminutive variety in containers, as edging, or mass as a ground cover along a slope.

Hardy in zones 5-8, full sun to part sun, 1-2’ tall and wide

forsythia shrub

7. Forsythia

Show Off® Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)

One of the earliest shrubs to flower in spring, forsythia has cheerful yellow bell-shaped blooms that occur along the stems. This tough deciduous shrub grows in a wide range of conditions and is hardy in most regions. Show Off® doesn’t require much pruning to retain a tidy appearance. Use as hedging, in foundation plantings or mixed borders.

Hardy in zones 5-8, full sun to part sun, 5-6’ tall and wide

cypress deer resistant

8. False Cypress

Soft Serve® False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera)

False cypress is one of the best deer-resistant evergreen shrubs. This hardy conifer is grown for the attractive cedar-like foliage and year-round interest in the landscape. Soft Serve® is a dwarf variety with softly textured needles and a graceful habit suited for Asian-style gardens, as privacy screening or hedging.

Hardy in zones 4-8, full sun to part sun, 6-10’ tall and 5-6’ wide


9. Juniper

Gin Fizz® Juniper (Juniperus chinensis)

This hardy evergreen conifer, which comes in a wide range of sizes and shapes, is valued for its year-round appeal, carefree nature and versatility in the landscape. Gin Fizz® has an upright pyramidal shape, with softly textured aromatic green foliage and attractive blue-green berries. Use as a stand-alone focal point, as hedging or screening.

Hardy in zones 4-8, full sun, 10-18’ tall and 7-10’ wide

scotch broom

10. Scotch Broom

Sister Disco® Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

Scotch broom is a drought-tolerant deciduous shrub with pea-like flowers and an upright broom-like structure. The blooms of Sister Disco® are red and yellow bicolored for a striking effect in the landscape. This European native is not recommended for areas where Scotch broom has naturalized and become invasive. Use in mass plantings as erosion control along a slope.

Hardy in zones 5-8, full sun, 1-3’ tall and wide

red osier dogwood shrub

11. Dogwood Shrubs

Arctic Fire® Red Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)

Red osier dogwood, which is native to North America, is grown for its hardiness, easy-care nature and four-season appeal. Spring flowers are followed by white or purple berries, orange-red fall color and red branches that light up the winter landscape. Arctic Fire® is suitable for smaller yards and is tolerant of full sun or partial shade. Plant this deciduous shrub in a woodland setting or mass in the landscape.

Hardy in zones 2-7, full sun to part shade, 3-5’ tall and wide

rose of sharon

12. Rose of Sharon

Blue Chiffon® Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

The exotic tropical-looking flowers of hardy hibiscus are an unforgettable sight in the summer landscape. This deciduous shrub can be used in foundation plantings, mixed borders and as hedging. Blue Chiffon® produces unusual double blue flowers in late summer to fall when few other shrubs are blooming.

Hardy in zones 5-9, full sun, 8-12’ tall and 4-6’ wide


13. Elderberry

Black Lace® Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Elderberry, a deciduous shrub with multi-seasonal appeal, produces clusters of spring flowers, attractive foliage, colorful berries and fall color. Black Lace® has pink flowers and deeply dissected purple-black foliage that resembles Japanese maple. Use as a focal point, in foundation plantings or mixed borders.

Hardy in zones 5-7, full sun to partial sun, 6-8’ tall and wide

lilac bush deer proof

14. Lilac

Bloomerang® Dark Purple Reblooming Lilac (Syringa x)

Lilacs are one of the most beloved flowering shrubs, with delicate clusters of star-shaped flowers that fill the garden with sweet fragrance in spring. This hardy deciduous bush is useful in foundation plantings, mixed borders, or as hedging. Bloomerang® Dark Purple reblooms from mid-summer until frost with dark purple buds that open to pale pink. Suitable for containers and small spaces.

Hardy in zones 3-7, full sun, 4-6’ tall and wide


15. Weigela

Spilled Wine® Weigela (Weigela florida)

An old-fashioned favorite, weigela produces clusters of tubular flowers in spring, with deciduous foliage in various colors. Spilled Wine® is a compact variety suitable for smaller yards, with deep purple foliage that contrasts dramatically with the raspberry-pink flowers. Use this mounding spreading type as edging along walkways, in foundation plantings or massed in the landscape.

Hardy in zones 4-8, full sun, 2-3’ tall and wide


16. Barberry

Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

This non-invasive barberry is a compact, deer-resistant shrub that boasts stunning maroon foliage. It is easy to care for and thrives in full sun. Use it to add a splendid touch of color to landscape borders, in containers or as a way to enhance home security with its thorny stems.

Hardy in zones 4-8, full sun, 2-3' tall and wide


17. Crapemyrtle

Center Stage® Pink Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

With vivacious pink blossoms and deep burgundy foliage, this breathtaking shrub provides color from spring through fall. Center Stage® Pink makes an impressive focal point in any landscape.

Hardy in zones 6-10, full sun, 6-12’ tall and 8’ wide


18. Potentilla

Happy Face® Yellow (Potentilla fruticosa)

Brighten any garden with this delightful shrub featuring cheerful yellow blooms and lush green foliage. It blooms non-stop from spring to frost, is super durable, needs little maintenance and is highly deer resistant. Grow it in mixed borders, foundation plantings, or mass plantings.

Hardy in zones 2-7, part sun to sun, 2-3' tall and wide


19. Abelia

Sweet Emotion® Hardy Abelia (Abelia mosanensis)

Abelia is a charming addition to any deer-resistant garden. This variety has fragrant white and pink blossoms in spring and lush green foliage that turns a stunning orange hue in autumn. Grow it alongside other deer-resistant plants in a spot where its spicy-sweet fragrance can be enjoyed.

Hardy in zones 4-8, part sun to sun, 5-6' tall and wide


20. Beautybush

Jolene Jolene Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)

Enjoy quite a show from this enchanting shrub with delicate, bell-shaped pink flowers on arching branches. Jolene Jolene is care-free, smaller than other beautybushes, and makes an excellent flowering hedge, foundation plant, and all-purpose landscape plant.

Hardy in zones 4-8, part sun to sun, 3-6' tall and 4-6' wide

Siberian cypress

21. Siberian Cypress

Celtic Pride® Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata)

Add a serene touch of greenery to any landscape with this low-growing shrub. Celtic Pride® has elegant, feathery foliage that with a rich green hue that turns bronzy in winter. It is an ideal choice for deer-resistant groundcover.

Hardy in zones 2-7, part sun to sun, 1-3' tall and 4-5' wide


22. Coralberry

Proud Berry® Coralberry (Symphoricarpos sp.)

This shrub's bright pink berries add a vibrant splash of color to the fall garden. It is exceptionally hardy and tough, is excellent for cut branches, and effortlessly fends off deer.

Hardy in zones 3-7, part sun to sun, 3-4' tall and wide


What is the most deer-resistant shrub?

There is no one shrub that is the most deer resistant. Deer are sensitive to smell, so will shun fragrant shrubs such as juniper, spruce or daphne. Shrubs with thorns, sharp or rough leaves such as barberry and Oregon grape (Mahonia) will also be avoided by deer.

What are some flowering shrubs that are deer resistant?

Deer-resistant flowering shrubs include forsythia, butterfly bush, rose of Sharon, cinquefoil (Potentilla), Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) and bluebeard

What hedges do deer not like?

Some of the best deer-resistant shrubs for hedging include boxwood, red twig dogwood and viburnum

Do deer eat boxwood?

Deer will avoid boxwood, making it one of the best deer-resistant shrubs for shade. Rutgers gives boxwood an A rating because it is rarely damaged by deer. 

Is viburnum deer resistant?

Viburnum is one of the shrubs that deer won’t eat due to its scent and taste. While deer won’t damage the plant itself, they may eat the flowers, making it unlikely that you'll see fruit.

Do deer like hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas are among the least deer-resistant flowering shrubs. If you live in an area that is prone to deer damage, substitute other more deer-resistant bushes. 

Are azaleas deer proof?

Deer will feed on azalea bushes, particularly early in the season when there is tender new growth. Protect your shrubs from deer damage with repellant or other deterrents. Water and fertilize damaged plants to help them recover. 

Are lilac bushes deer resistant?

Deer seldom graze on lilacs, but hungry deer may feed on these bushes in early spring if other food sources are scarce. 

Is Russian sage deer resistant?

The fragrant foliage of Russian sage makes it highly deer resistant. However, it is considered a woody perennial or subshrub. For more deer-resistant perennials, check out this list of 22 recommendations.


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Want to learn more?

30 Deer-Resistant Flowers

4 Kinds of Plants Deer Avoid

23 Best Evergreen Shrubs

How to Plant Shrubs

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