Shrubs are an important part of any garden, providing beauty and structure to the landscape. However, one of the most frustrating problems gardeners may face is when their hard work is destroyed by roaming deer.
Going to the effort of selecting and planting deer-resistant shrubs can significantly reduce the damage done by these pests. By choosing deer-resistant shrubs, you can ensure that your garden continues to look great year after year.
Deer-resistant shrubs tend to have strong, aromatic smells, or contain tough textures or stinging hairs that discourage deer from browsing them. Many of them also have few flowers or fruits for the deer to find attractive. Choosing these types of plants can help repel deer from your garden and keep it looking its best for longer.
Thankfully, there’s a variety of options when it comes to deer-resistant shrubs. From evergreens to flowering plants, there’s something available for everybody’s tastes and needs.
Some popular varieties include butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), boxwood (Buxus), and viburnum (Viburnum). In addition to being resistant to deer damage, these shrubs are also easy to care for with minimal maintenance required.
If you’d like to learn more about deer-resistant shrubs, read on! Here you’ll find information on the top types of deer-resistant shrubs, as well as advice on how best to care for them. With this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to create a beautiful garden that will stay safe and look good for years to come.
Table of Contents
What Are Deer Resistant Shrubs?
Deer-resistant shrubs are a type of shrub that is naturally unattractive to deer. They have a scent or flavor that deer find unappealing and will generally avoid them. Deer-resistant shrubs can be an integral part of a home garden as they provide an extra layer of protection against deer damage.
Some common deer-resistant shrubs are Juniper, boxwood, Holly, Mugo pine, Forsythia, Willow, Blackhaw viburnum, Russian sage, Barberry, and Spirea. These shrubs have tough foliage and bark that can withstand browsing or rub from deer. In addition to being deer resistant, many of these shrubs also offer longevity and are low-maintenance.
When planting these types of shrubs in your landscape it is important to remember to space them correctly and add multiple layers of plants to deter deer from entering the area. Adding trees or taller shrubs near your deer-resistant shrubs can help to make them less attractive to the deer. Additionally, using repellents and sprays can help to keep deer away from the area altogether.
Deer-resistant shrubs can be a great addition to a home garden and offer an extra layer of protection against browsing and rubbing from pesky deer. With proper planning and spacing, these shrubs can add beauty and longevity to any garden without the worry of deer damage.
How to Choose The Best Deer-Resistant Shrubs For Your Landscape
Having deer wandering around your property can be an annoyance or, worse, a threat. To protect against these hungry interlopers, it’s important to choose the best deer-resistant shrubs for your landscape. Deer are browsers, meaning they will eat anything and everything, so your best bet for protection is to plant fragrant and thorny shrubs.
Here are some tips for choosing deer-resistant shrubs:
1. Consider Fragrant Shrubs: Deers rely on their sense of smell to find food. Plants that smell strong such as rosemary, lavender, and sage, are less likely to be eaten by deer. On the other hand, plants that have a mild odor like boxwoods or junipers won’t deter them.
2. Look for Plant Attributes: Shrubs that have thorny branches or leaves with spines can help to keep deer away since they don’t want to be scratched or pricked while they’re eating. Berberis, Cotoneaster, and Pyracantha are all excellent options.
3. Choose Colorful Flowers: Deers tend to be attracted to light-colored plants and flowers so, darker-colored ones are your best bet for deer deterrence. Plants such as rhododendron and hydrangea with deep purples and pinks are much less appealing to them than white or yellow blooms.
4. Combination Planting: Mix plants up so that you have a combination of fragrant and thorny shrubs along with colorful plants that deer would rather avoid. This makes it difficult for them to find the parts of your garden that they want by overwhelming their sense of smell and sight.
5. Repellents: Repellents can also be used to keep deer away from plants in your garden that you want to protect. However, be aware that repellents are not always 100% effective and must be reapplied after a few weeks when they start to wear off.
Following these tips can help you protect the plants in your landscape from hungry deer looking for an easy meal while still providing you with a beautiful landscape setting full of color and texture!
How to Plant Deer Resistant Shrubs
Deer are a common sight in many residential yards around the country. Unfortunately, they can wreak havoc on gardens, devouring plants in no time. In order to deter deer from snacking on your beloved shrubs, consider planting deer-resistant shrubs such as junipers, evergreens, and roses. Here’s how to do it!
1. Select your shrubs. When choosing shrubs for deer resistance, look for those that have a high level of tannins in their leaves or bark. Plants with higher levels of tannins are less attractive to deer because they have a bitter taste and smell. Some examples of deer-resistant shrubs include holly, boxwood, barberry, and evergreens like cedar and pine.
2. Choose the right location. Deer tend to travel along pathways, so try to locate your shrubs away from these deer trails or at least away from areas where deer congregate. You may also want to choose a spot with good air circulation, as it will reduce the chances of deer lingering around your plants due to the scent of their breath.
3. Prepare the soil. Once you’ve selected the spot for your new shrubs, it’s time to prepare the soil by tilling or using a shovel or garden fork to loosen it up and remove any debris or weeds. Make sure you dig a hole that’s larger than the root ball of your shrub to ensure proper drainage and provide plenty of room for it to grow and spread its roots out properly.
4. Plant the shrub. Gently place your deer-resistant shrub in the hole and fill it with soil so that the root ball is completely covered and firmly tamped down. Water generously after planting and keep in mind that some shrubs may need extra care in the form of mulching or fertilizer during those dry summer months.
5. Secure your shrub with a fence or netting if necessary. If you live in an area with especially high deer populations or you simply want extra protection for your shrub from being munched on by hungry deer, consider securing them with a fence or netting that is at least 8 feet tall and made of heavy material that even determined bucks won’t be able to jump over or chew through.
With these tips in mind, you can easily plant deer-resistant shrubs in your yard without worrying about them becoming a black-tailed buffet for local deer!
How to Care for Deer Resistant Shrubs
Deer-resistant shrubs are a great way to keep deer from damaging your garden. To keep these shrubs in good condition, there are a few things you should do:
1. Regular Pruning: Pruning is essential for keeping deer-resistant shrubs healthy and growing in the desired shape. Prune jujube to promote dense foliage, and remove dead or damaged branches. Deadheading spent flower blooms will also promote new bloom development.
2. Mulch: Adding mulch around the base of your deer-resistant shrubs will help keep the roots cool in dry weather and minimize weeds. Make sure to use organic mulch such as bark or wood chips, which won’t add chemicals to the soil that could be toxic to your plants.
3. Watering: Make sure your deer-resistant shrubs are getting enough water, especially during dry periods. Water at the base of the shrub, avoiding foliage, which can promote disease and insect problems.
4. Fertilizer: You may want to feed your deer-resistant shrubs in the spring or late winter with a balanced liquid fertilizer or slow-release granules.
5. Pest and Disease Control: Monitor your shrubs for signs of pests and diseases such as Japanese beetles, aphids, and leaf spot disease. If you spot any signs address them immediately by using organic control measures such as neem oil or insecticidal soap.
By following these simple steps, you can keep your deer-resistant shrubs looking their best and prevent them from becoming a buffet for hungry deer!
17 Best Deer Resistant Shrubs for Your Landscaping
When it comes to deer-resistant shrubs, there are quite a few options to choose from. Here are a few of the most popular types of deer-resistant shrubs:
1. Boxwood shrubs
This is a classic evergreen shrub that is perfect for creating hedges and other structures in the landscape. Boxwood is also one of the most deer-resistant shrubs available.
Boxwood is a slow-growing shrub but can live for a very long time. It is an easy shrub to care for and does not require a lot of maintenance.
Rhododendrons are a type of flowering shrub that is both visually pleasing and deer resistant. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. The flowers of the rhododendron are showy, ranging from bright pink to deep purple, and are often fragrant. This shrub is also known for its thick and glossy foliage which comes in a range of shades from deep green to golden yellow.
By planting rhododendrons, homeowners can deter deer from coming into their yards as the shrub’s foliage is too tough and prickly for the animals to eat. Additionally, they are easy to maintain as they do not require a lot of pruning or fertilizing. This makes them an ideal choice for gardeners who want to add beauty to their yards without having to worry about deer or other critters snacking on their plants.
Hydrangeas are beautiful shrubs that make a great addition to any landscape. Not only is it an attractive and easy-to-maintain shrub, but it also repels deer. This makes it an excellent choice for those wanting to create a lush deer-free garden. Hydrangeas come in a variety of colors and grow best in moist well-drained soil in partial shade.
The blooms can be dried and enjoyed indoors for a long time. Pruning is also relatively simple with these shrubs as they are versatile and easy to manipulate to achieve the desired shape. Deer may be attracted to the fragrant blooms of other plants but with Hydrangea’s deer-resistant features, you can rest assured that your landscape will be safe and undisturbed by any wildlife.
4. Barberry evergreen shrubs
Barberry evergreen shrubs are a lovely addition to any landscape. These beautiful shrubs come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors making them a perfect way to add color and texture to your garden. They also provide year-round interest as their leaves remain green throughout the winter.
Additionally, these shrubs are highly deer-resistant making them a great choice for areas where deer are a problem. Barberry evergreen shrubs are an ideal choice for hedges, foundation plantings, and borders, or a standalone showpiece. With their simple maintenance needs and hardy nature, these eye-catching shrubs can bring beauty and style to your outdoor space.
Cotoneaster is a broad group of shrubs with over 400 species of deciduous or evergreen foliage. These shrubs known for their low maintenance and quick-growing nature, are also incredibly deer resistant. Many varieties offer beautiful deep green leaves and tasty, red berries that birds love to snack on during the fall months.
Cotoneaster shrubs thrive in full sun and can tolerate partial shade. They are considered to be hardy and easy-to-grow shrubs with little need for pruning and no need for fertilizing. For those looking to add bright foliage and beautiful berries to their landscape without the worry of deer munching away, cotoneaster shrubs are an excellent choice.
Juniper is an evergreen shrub that is both aesthetically pleasing and deer-resistant. Its lush foliage and bright berries add a touch of color to any outdoor space. Junipers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors making them a great choice for low-maintenance gardens. These hardy shrubs are also drought tolerant.
The biggest downside to growing junipers is their sharp needles which can be irritating if not handled properly. Still, the combination of beauty and versatility makes juniper an excellent choice for homeowners who want to add curb appeal to their property with deer-resistant shrubs.
7. Bluebeard (Caryopteris)
The Caryopteris genus, also known as Bluebeard, is a member of the mint family. This perennial herb is found in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
The plant blooms in the summer and fall with blue or purple flowers. The leaves are opposite and have a toothed margin.
The plant is known to be highly effective and deer-resistant. Deer are known to avoid eating the plant due to its high toxicity levels.
The plant has been known to cause severe gastrointestinal distress in deer, including vomiting and diarrhea.
8. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
The Butterfly Bush is a beautiful, flowering shrub that is native to China. It was introduced to the United Kingdom in the early 1800s and has been grown in gardens ever since.
The Butterfly Bush gets its name from the fact that it is incredibly attractive to butterflies, which are attracted to its sweet-smelling, nectar-rich flowers.
The flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, purple, and blue. The Butterfly Bush is a relatively easy plant to care for and can thrive in a variety of climates and soil types.
The butterfly bush is a shrub that has been used for years to deter deer. The leaves are bitter and unpalatable to deer, so they avoid eating them.
Butterfly bush is also very thorny, making it difficult for deer to get through the shrub. This makes the butterfly bush an effective deer deterrent.
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The shrub rose also known as Rosa sp., is a species of rose that is native to Asia, Europe, and North America. This rose is characterized by its shrubby habit, which can reach up to 6 feet in height, and its flowers, which are usually pink or white.
The shrub rose is a popular choice for gardens and landscaping because of its beauty and versatility. This rose can be used as a specimen plant in mass plantings, as a hedge, or in any other way that you can imagine.
Shrub rose can also be used as deer-resistant plant. Although most roses do not deter deer, there are some varieties that are.
10. Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’)
Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’ is an outstanding shrub for the landscape. It has a long blooming season, is drought tolerant, and has a strong resistance to deer browse.
The flowers are very fragrant and appear in shades of pink, purple, and white. The foliage is dark green and glossy. This shrub can be used as a specimen plant or in mass plantings.
11. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Perovskia atriplicifolia, commonly known as Russian sage, is a member of the mint family. It is a perennial herb that grows to a height of 3 feet and has blue flowers with silvery-gray foliage.
The plant is native to the steppes of Central Asia and is drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. It is an excellent choice for xeriscaping and is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens.
The Russian Sage is a hardy plant that can tolerate drought and poor soil conditions. It is a wonderful plant to add to any garden because it is easy to care for and it is very beautiful.
12. Inkberry holly
Inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) is a deer-resistant shrub that is native to the eastern United States. It grows 3-15 feet tall with an upright form and dark glossy evergreen foliage. Inkberry is an incredibly hardy shrub surviving in a variety of soil types and growing conditions. It produces small white flowers in the spring and has clusters of blackberries in the summer. Inkberry holly is perfect for foundation plantings, hedges, and as a focal point in the garden.
Its glossy foliage and attractive berries make it a favorite even among deer-proof shrubs. In addition, berries are a food source for birds and other wildlife. One of its downsides is that it can become invasive so, planting this shrub requires proper maintenance and pruning to keep it under control.
13. Dogwood shrubs
Dogwood shrubs are a beautiful addition to any yard. They are easy-to-care-for shrub that is also deer-resistant. They can be planted in both full and partial sun and come in a wide variety of styles and varieties.
They produce showy white or pink flowers in the late spring and red fruits in the fall, making them popular for landscaping and for attracting birds and other wildlife.
Dogwood shrubs are also relatively low maintenance when considering pruning and fertilizing needs. They also possess good resistance to diseases and insects, making them very reliable plants.
14. Pieris shrubs
Pieris shrubs offer evergreen foliage, year-round interest, and bright spring blossoms. Pieris shrubs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them easy to fit into any garden design. Their glossy leaves can range from dark green to deep rusty bright red making them a great shrub to add vibrant color all year round.
On top of that, these shrubs produce beautiful clusters of white bell-shaped flowers during springtime. The blooms have a sweet smell that attracts pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. In addition, these deer-resistant shrubs are typically quite hardy and easy to maintain making them a great choice for novice gardeners.
Lilac shrubs are a lovely and fragrant addition to any garden. Not only do they bring beauty and scent to the yard, but they are also resistant to deer. The attractive flowers of lilac come in a variety of colors, with white, pink, and lavender being the most common.
Lilacs are relatively low-maintenance plants that require minimal pruning and can tolerate some drought. The flowers and foliage will last throughout summer and into fall allowing you to enjoy their beauty for an extended period of time.
For gardeners living in areas with frequent deer activity, planting lilacs can provide a colorful solution that is deer resistant.
16. Star Magnolia
Star Magnolia is another excellent choice for a deer-resistant shrub. This deciduous shrub has rounded white flowers that bloom in the early spring, making it a great addition to any landscape. The blossoms have a mild lemony scent that helps keep away unwanted guests like deer.
Yews are strong evergreen shrubs with long needles that make them unappealing to deer. These shrubs can reach heights of 10 feet and are tolerant of a variety of soil conditions and climates.
Although there is no surefire way to keep deer from eating your plants, there are some steps you can take to make your garden less attractive to them.
Planting deer-resistant shrubs is a good place to start, but you should also take care to remove any potential food sources from your garden and keep it well-maintained. With a little effort, you can make your garden less appealing to deer and enjoy it for years to come.
Questions People Also Ask About Deer Resistant Shrubs
What type of shrubs will deer not eat?
Mountain laurel, rhododendron, and azalea are all shrubs that deer will not eat. These plants are all part of the Ericaceae family and contain toxins that make them unpalatable to deer.
Are hydrangeas deer resistant?
No, hydrangeas are not deer resistant. Deer will often eat hydrangeas when given the opportunity.
What is the most deer-resistant plant?
The most deer-resistant plants are those with highly scented foliage or thorns, such as yarrow, holly, boxwood, lavender, and rosemary. Hostas and daylilies, which have a minimal scent and lack defensive adaptations, are highly susceptible to deer damage.
What is the most deer-resistant evergreen?
In general, evergreens that are dense, have a strong scent, and are prickly are less likely to be eaten by deer. Some examples of deer-resistant evergreens include boxwood, cypress, holly, and juniper.
Do deer eat azaleas?
In general, deer will eat almost anything, but they prefer plants that are high in protein and low in fiber. This means that azaleas are not their first choice when it comes to food, but they will eat them if they are hungry enough.
The best way to protect your azaleas from deer is to plant them in an area that is not easily accessible to deer or to build a fence around them.
Are Black-Eyed Susans deer-resistant?
Yes, Black-Eyed Susans are generally deer-resistant. They are very easy to grow in average well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.
Black-Eyed Susans will self-seed readily if the spent flower heads are left on the plant, so deadheading is not necessary unless you want to prevent them from spreading.
Are hostas deer-resistant?
Hosta is one of the deer’s favorite plants to eat, and unfortunately, when they do, they often cause Significant Damage. Rutgers University rates hosta on a scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged – and places it in the latter category. When deer feed on hostas, they usually consume the leaves’ foliage and leave the stems behind.
Are emerald green arborvitae deer-resistant?
No, emerald green arborvitae is not deer-resistant.
Are Nandina deer resistant?
Nandina, also known as Heavenly Bamboo, is a popular landscape plant in the southeastern United States.
Nandina is prized for its showy foliage and berries, which remain on the plant throughout the winter. Nandina is also deer resistant making it a good choice for areas where deer browse.
Is loropetalum deer resistant?
Loropetalum is a type of shrub that is native to parts of Asia. It is a member of the witch-hazel family and can grow to be up to 15 feet tall.
The leaves are ovate-shaped and the flowers are white, pink, or red and bloom in the spring. Loropetalum is deer resistant and can be used as an ornamental plant in landscaping.
Are lilacs deer-resistant?
Yes, lilacs are generally deer-resistant. They have a strong scent and waxy texture which makes them unappealing to most deer.
Do deer like peonies?
Deer generally avoid fragrant herbs such as lavender, and sweet-smelling flowers, like peonies, as well as poisonous plants.
Are rhododendrons deer-resistant?
Rhododendrons are not deer-resistant. In fact, deer love to eat them. If you have a rhododendron in your yard, there’s a good chance that a deer will eat it.
There are a few things you can do to deter deer from eating your rhododendrons. One is to spray the plants with deer repellent. You can also try wrapping the plants in chicken wire.
Are roses deer-resistant?
No, roses are not deer-resistant. The deer will consume the leaves, flowers, and spiny canes of rose bushes.