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10 Hardy, Deer Resistant Proven Winners Perennials

There is nothing worse than walking out into the garden, only to find that the deer have devoured your favorite plants overnight. Short of installing a nine-foot-tall fence and repeatedly applying repellants, there are few sure cures for the problem, but planting things they don’t prefer to eat will help. Let’s look at ten plants that deer typically will pass by in your garden in favor of tastier treats down the road.


LEADING LADY
and PARDON MY Monarda
(Bee Balm)

A favorite of native enthusiasts, these colorful perennials attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds with their vibrant blossoms each summer. They are dwarf, clump-forming varieties that return reliably every year in zones 4-8 and are exceptionally resistant to powdery mildew. Deer steer clear once they catch a whiff of their minty-scented foliage. Plant Leading Lady bee balm for earlier color, then Pardon My varieties to extend the bloom season through midsummer. Best in full sun to part shade.


‘Cat’s Meow’ Nepeta

(Catmint)

The fuzzy, fragrant foliage of catmint is detested by deer. ‘Cat’s Meow’ is a lower maintenance selection that is prized for its naturally neat, dense habit that won't need trimming to keep it in bounds like older varieties. It is very easy to grow in zones 3-8 in full sun. Just plant it and forget it (that’s right—no extra water or plant food needed), and it will return the favor with bushels of bright lavender purple blossoms in early summer and early fall.


COLOR SPIRES® Salvia

(Perennial Salvia)

If you want to attract pollinators to your garden, plant salvia. While its fragrant foliage is not preferred by deer, all sorts of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are dazzled by its blooms which appear around early summer. Hardy Color Spires Salvias are super easy to grow in full sun in zones 3-8. They are drought tolerant once established. These lovely perennials are a staple item for every spring garden.


SWEET ROMANCE
® Lavandula

(Lavender)

The finely textured, fragrant, fuzzy leaves of Sweet Romance lavender are rarely on the menu for deer and other critters. You will love its heady sweet fragrance, so be sure to pick a few stems for bringing indoors. This variety is particularly long blooming with rich violet purple flower wands produced continually from early summer into fall in full sun in zones 5-9. It is very drought tolerant once established.


‘Denim ‘n Lace’ Perovskia

(Russian Sage)

 By now you’re probably sensing a theme here—perennials with fragrant foliage are rarely bothered by deer. Russian sage is certainly no exception. Its fragrant foliage is highly deer resistant, while its bright amethyst blue flowers are a favorite of bees and hummingbirds. ‘Denim ‘n Lace’ has a tidy habit that won’t spill over onto its neighbors in the garden. Full sun and dry, unfertile soil will keep it happiest for many years to come in zones 4-9.


PRAIRIE WINDS
®

(Perennial Ornamental Grasses)

The finely textured foliage of ornamental grasses tends to keep them out of the mouths of deer that are looking for more succulent food to eat. Grasses also provide shelter for them and other little critters throughout the fall and winter months. Proven Winners offers a selection of native and non-native ornamental grasses, each with its own unique set of benefits. Click here to explore them all. 


‘Bottle Rocket’ Ligularia

(Ligularia)

The leathery, serrated foliage and spiky flowers of Ligularia are typically not preferred by deer meandering down your shady pathways. They would much rather eat your tender hostas instead! ‘Bottle Rocket’ is an improved cultivar with greater heat tolerance, thicker textured leaves, and bright yellow flower spikes that are held just above the foliage. Its flowering performance is best when planted in part shade and moist soil in zones 4-9.


MAGIC SHOW® Veronica

(Spike Speedwell)

The finely textured foliage and skinny flower spikes of Veronica puts them near the bottom of the menu for deer who are looking for plants of greater substance to fill their bellies. Luckily, that means gardeners can plant swathes of vibrantly hued purple, pink or white veronicas in their sunny to lightly shaded landscapes in zones 4-8 with no worries. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy their blooms for many weeks beginning in early summer.


DECADENCE
® Baptisia

(False Indigo)

These shorter selections of our native prairie Baptisia may be scaled down to fit in urban gardens, but they haven’t lost their deer resistance in the process. Bees and butterflies enjoy their late spring blooms, which come in a broad range of colors in this series. Baptisias are highly drought tolerant, enjoy full sun, and are extremely long-lived in the landscape in zones 4-9. Choose a permanent place when planting, as they resent being moved once established.


‘Storm Cloud’ Amsonia

(Blue Star)

Blue star is a classic native, low maintenance perennial that thrives in zones 4-9 in full sun to part shade. ‘Storm Cloud’ is named for its unique near-black foliage and stems that emerge in spring before transitioning to deep green. It sets the perfect backdrop for the periwinkle blue flowers in late spring. Amsonia is a long-lived perennial used to fill large amounts of space in easy care landscapes. When shopping, pick them up in groups of three to create the best look in the garden. 

Want to learn more? View our Pinterest boards for deer resistant perennials and shrubs.

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Thu, 04/27/2017 - 7:52am

Very happy to see a new list so bright and covering some shade plants. I have a lot of shade to cove in cover besides bark. I have a large family of deer of deer that have been with me for years. I do not spray I need to protect naturally big thanks these will be helpful.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Thu, 04/13/2017 - 3:41pm

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Fri, 04/07/2017 - 8:11am

I had just moved here last year and live near town. I never thought deer would come in here. I went and spent over $1000 for plants, etc. Every daylily, coral bell, oriental lily, hosta were , etc were eaten. They left the dahlias which I raise for florists , thank God. So I am starting over and will look at your list. Pat

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