Top Deer-Resistant Plants of the Mountain West & High Plains

Don't let deer destroy your garden or landscape. Try these plants that the four-legged critters often avoid.

Marty Ross


  • view all thumbnails
Penstemon
1/17

    To start, we need to warn you that there are few, if any, plants that can be called truly deer proof. Just like we see with people, a deer's preferred foods differ from individual to individual. The deer in your yard may avoid any specific plant, but the deer down the street may find that a favorite.

2/17
Ajuga

    A topnotch ground cover for shaded gardens, ajuga is as deer-resistant as it is versatile. Look for varieties with foliage in shades of purple, bronze, and green -- as well as selections variegated with white, cream, or pink. Its springtime blue flowers are a nice plus!

    Plant Name: Ajuga reptans

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 3 feet wide

    Zones: 4-9

3/17
Allium

    One of the most dramatic bulbs, allium is also one of the most versatile with types ranging from little 6-inch-tall Allium moly to the 3-foot-tall 'Globemaster' with 8-inch-wide flowers. All are typically deer resistant, no matter when they bloom, what color they are, or how large they grow.

    Plant Name: Allium selections

    Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and well-drained soil, depending on type

    Size: From 2 inches tall to 6 feet tall and 2 inches wide to 1 foot wide, depending on type

    Zones: 2-10, depending on type

4/17
Candytuft

    A terrific edging plant or rock-garden choice, candytuft offers a flurry of flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white in spring. We also appreciate the winter interest of its evergreen foliage.

    Plant Name: Iberis sempervirens

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide

    Zones: 5-9

5/17
Coralbells

    Fancy foliage is the latest thing in coralbells; these versatile little perennials now offer leaves in shades from nearly red to deep blue-green or even black. Variegated selections may be splashed with silver or pink -- so there's a coralbells for almost every garden.

    Bonus: While hummingbirds love the plants, deer don't.

    Plant Name: Heuchera selections

    Growing Conditions: Sun to shade, depending on selection, and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: From 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, depending on type

    Zones: 4-8

6/17
Coreopsis

    A longtime favorite of many gardeners, coreopsis is a tough native plant with a long bloom season and starry flowers in shades of yellow or pink. We're especially fond of the thread-leaf selections such as 'Moonbeam' and 'Creme Brulee'.

    Hint: Many coreopsis do best if divided every few years to keep them vigorous and floriferous.

    Plant Name: Coreopsis selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: Most grow from 1 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide

    Zones: 3-8

7/17
Globe Thistle

    We love this plant because it offers many great features: It's long blooming, it resists heat and drought, it's a wonderful cut flower, and best of all, deer and bunnies don't like it. Just don't mistake the foliage for a thistle and accidentally pull it when it comes up in spring.

    Plant Name: Echinops bannaticus

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide

    Zones: 4-9

8/17
Hens and Chicks

    This perennial is so tough that once you plant it, you usually don't have to do anything to it ever again. A drought-tolerant succulent, hens and chicks usually needs no extra watering and it's a slow spreader so you won't have to keep it from crowding out its neighbors.

    Plant Name: Sempervivum selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 4-10, depending on type

9/17
Ornamental Grasses

    Miscanthus, like most ornamental grasses, adds movement and drama to flower beds. Deer also tend to steer clear of it (like they do of most other grasses) so you don't have to fear it being mowed down.

    Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis

    Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet or more tall and 4 feet wide

    Zones: 4-9

10/17
Penstemon

    A top plant for this region, there are dozens of types of penstemon. All are great for gardens since they're tough, drought-tolerant picks with long bloom seasons and colorful flowers loved by hummingbirds.

    Plant Name: Penstemon selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: From 1 to 4 feet tall and 6 to 36 inches wide, depending on type

    Zones: 4-10, depending on type

11/17
Purple Coneflower

    You can't grow wrong with purple coneflower for summer gardens: It blooms for weeks, it attracts scores of butterflies, it makes a great cut flower, and it's often left alone by deer thanks to its rough foliage. Purple coneflowers aren't just purple anymore; today plant breeders have expanded its range from orange and yellow to white and even green.

    Plant Name: Echinacea purpurea

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Zones: 3-9

12/17
Russian Sage

    A king of the late-summer garden, Russian sage bursts forth with feathery wands of violet-purple flowers over masses of silvery foliage. It, like many other plants disliked by deer, bears scented foliage -- so it's nice to grow this plant where you can occasionally walk by and enjoy its scent.

    Plant Name: Perovskia atriplicifolia

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide

    Zones: 4-9

13/17
Salvia

    A big group of plants, there's a salvia for every gardener. The tough plants often have a long bloom season, which makes them great for gardeners. Most have scented foliage, which is bad for deer. Look for annual and perennial salvias to fill your garden with low-maintenance color and attract hummingbirds too.

    Plant Name: Salvia selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: From 1 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 4 feet wide, depending on type

    Zones: 3-10, depending on type

14/17
Shasta Daisy

    A classic for its long season of bloom and cheerful good looks, Shasta daisy is also typically left alone by deer. For a standout variety, look for 'Becky' or 'Alaska'.

    Plant Name: Leucanthemum x superbum

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

    Zones: 4-8

15/17
Wormwood

    Don't let its common name fool you: Wormwood is a great garden plant. It offers silvery, aromatic foliage in a range of textures that makes it a perfect foil for just about any other perennial.

    Plant Name: Artemisia selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide, depending on type

    Zones: 3-9, depending on type

16/17
Yucca

    Plant yucca and forget it. This ultra-tough plant takes heat and drought like a champion and still looks beautiful. Without its clusters of tall summertime blooms, its architectural foliage adds a distinct look to any garden. Try pairing it with ornamental grasses for a bold, unique contrast.

    Plant Name: Yucca filamentosa

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide in bloom

    Zones: Zones 4-10

17/17
Popular Slideshows
We've pulled together the top deer-resistant plant...

These old-fashioned plants are among the easiest y...

Alliums are some of the most versatile bulbs for t...

Looking for an inspiring container garden? Take our short quiz and receive a customized planting strategy perfect for you. Start now!


Top Brands


Related Links
We've pulled together the top deer-resistant plant...

These old-fashioned plants are among the easiest y...

Alliums are some of the most versatile bulbs for t...

Save money by planting native flowers and shrubs i...

Share Your Thoughts