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Deer Resistant Plants and Repellents

Deer Resistant Plants and Repellents



Deer are fun to have around but destructive to ornamental gardens, shrubs and trees. The City of Royal Oak, with help from English Gardens presents safe alternatives to keep deer out of your gardens. - July 29, 2016

Deer avoid plants with strong scents such as basil, catnip, and lavender that can be planted around the edge of the garden.  

Putting heavy test fish line in the garden can scare deer if they walk into it after dark. 

Place concrete blocks on the ground. Unroll and slide the fencing flat on top of the blocks. By creating a square or a rectangle around certain woody ornamentals, the deer will not step onto or into the horizontal fence. If the wire is chicken wire and they step on it, it will sink. If it is woven wire farm fencing, they cannot place their feet into the holes to walk in. Michigan State University

GreenScreen deer repellent can be effective.  An MSU study on its effectiveness is available at the GreenScreen link.

Hellbores blooms early and well into the summer and is very deer resistant.  Oxtonge, bleeding hearts, and pulmoonaria also offer lots of flowers.  Hakonechloa and bergernia are ornamental grass, many other ornamental grasses are deer resistant. 

Very Deer Resistant Shrubs:  American Holly, Barberry, Colorado Blue Spruce, Drooping Leucothoe, Japanes Pieris, Russian Olive, Paper Birch

Deer Resistant Shrubs:  American Butternut, Chines Holly, English Hawthorn, European Birch, European White Birch, Flowing Dogwood, Forsythia, Honey Locust, Inkberry, Kousa Dogwood, Red Osier Dogwood, Redvein Enkianthus  

Deer Resistant Perennials for Sunny Spots
'Red Velvet' Yarrow - Clumping form of Yarrow with bright red flowers and fragrant foliage. Drought tolerant.
'First Choice' Bluebeard - Shrubby perennial with late summer blue/purple flowers. Drought tolerant.
'Jethro Tull' Coreopsis - Long lasting deep yellow flowers cover this hardy perennial.
'Fire Witch' Dianthus - Small, bright pink flowers and winter interest.
'Gateway' Joe Pye - Large perennial with large flowers in late summer. Can be a cut flower. Good in rain gardens.
'Craigeburn' Wood Sedge - Great for foliage impact as well as yellowish flowers. Drought tolerant.
'Commotion Tizzy' Blanket Flower - Incredibly long lasting red/orange/yellow flowers last into late fall.
'Rozanne' Geranium - Groundcover style perennial with long bloom season. Purple flowers, heat tolerant.
'Happy Returns' Daylily - Long lasting pastel yellow flowers.
'Palace Purple' Coral Bell - Outstanding foliage color. Neat, compact perennial handles a variety of conditions. Winter interest.
'Violet Intrigue' Lavender - Outstanding color and fragrance for this purple flowering lavender.
'Walker's Low' Nepeta - Mounding purple flowering perennial with fragrant foliage. Drought tolerant.
'Herrenhausen' Oregano - Sprawling evergreen perennial with huge, long lasting floral display. Fragrant. Easy Care. Drought Tolerant.
'Little Spire' Russian Sage - Short version of classic Russian sage. Fragrant plant with purple flowers in late summer.
'May Night' Salvia - Fragrant perennial with deep purple flowers during early to mid summer.
'Carl' Sedum - More colorful cousin of 'Autumn Joy'. Carl has great late summer floral display. Drought tolerant.
Perennial Grasses - Nearly every perennial grass on the market is deer resistant.

Deer Resistant Perennials for Part Sun
'Black Adder' Agastache - Long blooming perennial with purple flowers. Fragrant.
'White Clips' Bell Flower - Repeating white blooms cover this small perennial.
'Tiki Torch' Cone Flower - Bright orange flowers are cut worthy. More shade tolerant than the species.
'Chocolate' Joe Pye - Excellent foliage accent plant prefers some shade. White August flowers.
'Blue River' Hibiscus - Massive white flowers late summer into fall. Can handle more sun with more water.
'Caesar's Brother' Siberian Iris - Incredible deep purple flowers in early summer. Winter interest. Prefers some moisture.
Lily Turf - Liriope is a versatile evergreen groundcover that is at home in a wide variety of applications. Purple late summer flowers.

Deer Resistant Perennials for Shade
'Visions' Astilbe - A larger clumping Astilbe with bright pink flowers.
'Jack Frost' Brunnera - Reigning Perennial of the Year (2012) - Silvery foliage and blue spring flowers.
'Orchid Frost' Lamium - Ground cover shade perennial with variegated foliage and repeat blooms with purple flowers.
'Golden Scaled' Male Fern - Many ferns are deer resistant. This is a semi-evergreen, well shaped fern.
Fragrant Solomon's Seal - Fragrant flowers on variegated leaves. plant shape and leaves add character. Spreading habit.
'Hadspen Blue' Hosta - Medium sized hosta with blue leaves. One of several deer resistant hosta.
'Bowle's Golden' Sedge Grass - Bright yellow clumping grass that prefers moisture. Excellent foliage contrast in the shade. Winter interest.
'All Gold' Japanese Forest Grass - Chartreuse leaves are brighter than other Hakonechloa varieties. Soft texture. Winter interest.


Annuals: Anethum graveolens (dill), Capsicum annuum (hot peppers), cucumis sativus (cucumber),Rheum rhabarbarum (Rhubarb), and Tagetes (marigolds).

Ornamental grasses: Miscanthus sinensis (Japanese silver grass), Panicum virgatum (switch grass),Calamagrostis acutiflora (Feather reed grass), and Carix spp. (sedges).

Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-3042, Deer-Resistant Plants for Homeowners.


Michigan State University Extension
... One factor contributing to the hungrier-than-normal animals was low acorn production from oak trees in many parts of the state. Scant acorn production may have been a part of an oak’s normal “high-low cycle,” but acorn numbers also could have been cut short because of the unseasonably early spring last year ... Using a combined approach of cages, twine or wire foils and repeated applications of repellants will help focus the deer back to their usual woodland fodder and out of the garden...