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Deer Resistant Plants

Deer Resistant Vegetables & Perennials from Gurney's

At Gurney's, we're gardeners, just like you, and we understand the frustration of deer nibbling the plants we've worked to grow. We're always looking for the best deer resistant plants that also are tops in garden performance and, if vegetables, tops in flavor. We have a long history of working with plant breeders and growing plants in our test gardens--and we select the best varieties for home gardeners.

Choosing the Right Deer Resistant Plants for Your Garden

Deer are one of the biggest garden pests and can quickly destroy a flowerbed or vegetable garden. However, with some planning and by choosing the right plants, you can still grow vegetables and perennials.

When selecting perennials and vegetables, keep in mind that deer are browsers and selective eaters. They will first eat the tender shoots and other plants that are sweet and tender--like hostas, peas and fruits. If deer are really hungry, they become less choosy and will start eating plants that they'd normally pass by. That's why we say that very few plants are deer proof (meaning deer absolutely won't eat them), but many are deer resistant.

What Plants are Deer Resistant?

When selecting plants for your garden, keep in mind that deer may avoid plants for many reasons, including their texture, toxicity, taste or fragrance.

Deer often avoid eating plants that are woody, spiky, prickly or have hairy leaves. In the vegetable garden, they'll usually pass by cucumbers and squashes. In the flowerbeds, they will usually avoid eating plants like coneflowers, rudbeckia and asters.

Some plants, like rhubarb, daffodils and many shade perennials, like ferns, (but not hosta) are toxic to deer, so they'll avoid those.

Deer, like people, find some vegetables and plants tastier than others. They enjoy nibbling on clovers, peas, corn, beans and other tender plants, but don't care for onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Some fragrant plans will deter or repel deer. Deer don't care for the fragrance of peonies, rosemary and lemon thyme. Planting these among your other plants may help keep them away.

In the vegetable garden, deer usually will not dig up root vegetables. However, they may nibble on some root vegetable tops.

What Are the Best Deer Resistant Plants?

While no plants are 100 percent deer proof, some of the most popular deer resistant vegetables include: asparagus, rhubarb, carrots, eggplant, onions, garlic, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplant.

Some of the most popular deer resistant herbs are chives, dill, lavender, lemon balm, mint, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Deer tend to avoid annual flowers like marigolds and zinnias.

Some favorite deer resistant perennials include daffodils, coneflowers, ferns, foxglove, peonies and iris.

Deer Resistant Plants: Getting the Most out of Your Purchase

In areas with mild deer pressure, planting deer resistant plants among your other plants may be enough to keep deer from stopping in your garden and grazing.

How to Plant Deer Resistant Vegetables & Perennials

When planning your garden, keep in mind the reasons deer may avoid plants (texture, toxicity, taste and fragrance). Planting a higher ratio of deer resistant plants may keep deer from visiting your garden. Interspersing lots of fragrant plants that repel deer also helps keep deer at bay.

Because deer like tender, young shoots and plants (even deer resistant ones), consider placing cages or barriers around them until the plants reach a more mature and less enticing stage.

Deer Resistant Plants vs. Deer Repellent

Deer repellent plants are ones that have an odor or fragrance that keep deer from visiting. Using plants that naturally repel deer is a great option because, unlike with repellent sprays, you don't have to worry about rain washing away the odor. You'll find deer repellent plants in our deer resistant selection.

Other Options for Protecting Your Garden from Deer

Gardeners use a number of methods to protect their garden from deer. The success rate will vary depending on the amount of deer pressure, other garden plantings and other factors. One option is to spray plants with a natural or chemical substance that deer don't like. For instance, many gardeners use a natural spray that contains chili peppers. A bite of the spicy spray will often keep deer from taking a second bite. Other repellents have strong odors that deer tend to avoid. If using a repellent, especially in the vegetable garden, make sure that it can be used on plants intended for human consumption.

Other tricks gardeners use to keep deer at bay are motion sensor lights, motion-activated water sprinklers and fencing. Our Deer Stop Netting is more affordable than a permanent fence.

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