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California Deer Resistant Plants and Repellents

California Deer Resistant Plants and Repellents

Don't get mad, get informed. Learn about deer resistant plants and other strategies for co-existing with deer in your garden.

Deer-Resistant Plants for the Sierra Foothills (Zone 7), Compiled by Cooperative Extension 
A Gardener's Guide to Preventing Deer Damage [PDF], California Department of Fish and Game 
Master Gardener, U.C. Davis
- Deer-Proofing Your Bay Area Garden - Yerba Buena Nursery (SF Bay area)
Master Gardener, U.C. Davis
- Deer Resistant,  Mostly Native Plants Nursery
Deer-Resistant Plants for the Sierra Foothills (Zone 7), Compiled by Cooperative Extension 
A Gardener's Guide to Preventing Deer Damage [PDF], California Department of Fish and Game 
- Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA
- Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA
Native northern California plants that are deer resistant: sea thrift (Armeria), wallflowers (Erysimum), iris, sandhill sage (Artemisia pycnocephala), lupines. Also: iris, lamb's ear, lavender.  All grasses are deer resistant.

Hydrangeas ...are the hot new flower for floral arrangements and wedding bouquets. And, according to the Vintage Gardens website (, dried hydrangea flowers are also very popular. They should be picked and allowed to dry gradually, and then can be used to make long-lasting floral displays.Deer don't seem to like eating them, except for the oakleaf varieties.

Shrubby euphorbias, or spurges...the milky white sap that bleeds from the plant when the stems are cut can cause an irritation, but is why deer do not eat them.

Attractive deer resistant plants: Rhododendrons, daffodils, Mexican sage, Lithodora and hellebores.

Herbs that are too pungent for deer: Rosemary, thyme, scented geranium, lavender, salvia, tulbaghia and cat mint.

Deer prefer succulent and woody plants and rarely eat ornamental grasses and grasslike plants such as carex and members of the restio family.  Woody-based sages such as Salvia greggii and S. microphylla, potato bush and vine (Solanum crispum and S. rantonnetii), westringia, aromatic shrub marigolds (Tagetes) and curry plant (Helichrysum italicum), berberis, nandina, boxwood (Buxus), nearly all conifers, and oleander (Nerium) flourish in sun. For shade, sweet box (Sarcococca) and Mexican orange (Choisya).

List of Deer Resistant Plants
Acer palmatum, Japanese maple
Acer negundo, Box Elder
Achillea, Yarrow
Agastache, Anise hyssop, Hummingbird mint
Ajuga, Carpet bugle
Allium, Wild onion
Aquilegia formosa, Western Columbine
Asclepias, Butterfly weed
Berberis thunbergii, Barberry
Berlandiera lyrata, Chocolate Scented Daisy
Brachycome multifida, Rock Daisy
Buddleia, Butterfly bush
Campanula, Bellflower
Carpenteria, California anemone
Ceanothus, Wild lilac
Cerastium tomentosa, Snow-in-Summer
Centranthus ruber, Jupiter's beard
Chamaecyparis, False Cypress
Chrysanthemum parthenium, Golden feverfew
Cercis occidentalis, California Redbud
Cistus, Rockrose
Chrysanthemum maximum, Shasta Daisy
Chrysanthemum paludosum, Ox-eye Daisy 
Coreopsis, Tickseed
Diascia, Twinspur
Dicentra formosa, Western bleeding heart
Digitalis, Foxglove
Dudleya cymosa Hen & Chicks
Echinacea, Cone flower
Epilobium, California fuschia
Erigeron karvinskianus, Mexican daisy
Erysimum,  Wallflower 
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy
Euphorbia,  Spurge
Gaillardia grandiflora, Indian Blanket
Grass and grass-like plants 
Helleborus, Hellebores
Hemerocallis, Day lily
Heuchera, Coral Bells
Hypericum, St. Johnswort
Hyssopus, Hyssop
Laurentia fluviatilis, Blue Star Creeper
Lavandula, Lavender
Lilium, Asiatic Lily
Lonicera, Honeysuckle
Lupinus albifrons, Silver bush lupine
Lysimachia nummularia, Creeping Jenny
Mahonia, Oregon grape
Mentha, Mint
Miscanthus sinensis, Maiden Grass
Monarda didyma, Bee Balm
Monardella, Coyote mint
Myrtus, Myrtle
Narcissus, Daffodils
Nepeta, Catmint
Nigella damascena, Love in a Mist
Nicotiana, Flowering tobacco
Origanum, Oregano
Oxalis oregana, Redwood sorrel
Papaver, Poppy
Perovskia, Russian sage
Phlomis, Jerusalem sage
Phlox subulata, Creeping Phlox
Picea glauca, Alberta Spruce
Potentilla, Cinquefoil
Pyracantha, Firethorn
Romneya coulteri, Matilija poppy
Rosmarinus, Rosemary
Rudbeckia hirta, Gloriosa Daisy
Salvia apiana, White sage
Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’ 
Salvia clevelandii, Cleveland sage
Salvia leucophylla, Gray sage
Salvia mellifera, Black sage
Salvia sonomensis, Sonoma sage
Salvia spathacea, Hummingbird sage
Santolina, Lavender cotton
Senecio, Dusty miller
Sisyrinchium bellum, Blue-eyed grass
Solanum, Potato vine
Spiraea, Spirea
Stachys, Lamb’s ears
Syringa vulgaris, Common Lilac
Tagetes lemmonii, Mexican bush marigold
Teucrium, Germander
Thymus, Common thyme
Umbellularia californica, California bay
Verbascum, Mullein
Verbena bonariensis, Tall Verbena
Veronica, Speedwell
Vitex agnus-castus, Chaste tree

the Holly Leaf Mountain lilac, the Blue Jeans variety of hybridized California lilac is a deer-resistant variety

Mexican and other sages
Acorus Gramineus
Creeping lantana
Miscanthus and many other ornamental grasses
Sedum (and all other succulents/cactus)
Japanese boxwood
Loropetalum “Plum Delight”
Polystickum ferns
Tulbaghia violacea “variegate”
Sasanqua Camellias
Oak leaf Hydrangeas