Top Deer-Resistant Plants of the South

BHG105488

Having deer around doesn't mean you can't enjoy a beautiful garden. Try these deer-resistant plants for tons of landscape color.

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crocosmia perennial flowers
Bill Stites

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are few, if any, plants that can be called truly deer-proof. The list of plants you'll see contains selections deer often avoid. But, if deer are hungry enough, they'll eat just about anything. So when you see the plant list, keep in mind it's a starting point.

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Bear's Breeches

bears breeches plant
James Carriere

An architectural plant that's worth its weight in gold, bear's breeches creates a ton of structure in the garden thanks to its towering spikes of blooms and large, glossy leaves.

Plant Name: Acanthus mollis

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

Size: To 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Zones: 6-10

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Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed

Happily, this plant will bring a host of butterflies to your yard⁠—but not deer. A tough perennial native to areas of North America, butterfly weed bursts forth with clusters of orange flowers in summer. It's also heat and drought-resistant, so you can depend on it to look good, even with little care.

Plant Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Zones: 4-9

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Caryopteris

caryopteris flowers
Marty Baldwin

This standout plant reminds us of Russian sage (the two are great plant partners); bluebeard has scented, silvery-green foliage and clusters of violet-blue flowers in late summer and fall. We love the way this drought-resistant beauty adds a touch of no-care color to shrub borders when most other shrubs have finished.

Plant Name: Caryopteris selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

Zones: 5-9

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Chrysanthemum

chrysanthemum plant
William N. Hopkins

Perhaps the best-known fall-blooming plant, chrysanthemum cultivars now offer an astonishing range of colors, from purples and pinks to the more traditional fall tones of red, rust, orange, and yellow. Because of the plant's scented foliage, you won't have to worry about deer munching away on yours as they get ready for winter.

Plant Name: Chrysanthemum selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

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

Zones: 4-10, depending on type

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Crocosmia

crocosmia perennial flowers
Bill Stites

Crocosmia is almost startlingly dramatic in the garden. Its sword-shaped leaves add great interest, but they take a back seat to the clusters of bold red (or orange or yellow) flowers in midsummer. This clump-forming perennial gets bigger and better every year.

Plant Name: Crocosmia selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide

Zones: 5-9, depending on type

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Dianthus

dianthus flowers
Peter Krumhardt

Decorate your garden with the charming blooms and wonderful scent of dianthus. This perennial is full of flower power; many types produce blooms for weeks at a time in spring, summer, or fall.

Plant Name: Dianthus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: From 2 to 36 inches tall and 4 to 24 inches wide

Zones: 3-10, depending on type

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Epimedium

epimedium flowers
Bob Stefko

A favorite of just about every gardener who fights dry, shady conditions, epimedium is a knockout variety with cute flowers (in shades of pink, red, orange, white, and yellow) and deer-resistant foliage. Many selections of this wonderfully easy groundcover are evergreen⁠—giving it an extra level of interest.

Plant Name: Epimedium selections

Growing Conditions: Shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

Zones: 4-9, depending on type

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Goldenrod

goldenrod flowers
Robert Cardillo

Sending out golden explosions of flowers in late summer and early autumn, goldenrod is as excellent for the vase as it is for the flower bed. It's an ideal filler plant for fall arrangements and creates the same airy effect in late-season borders.

Plant Name: Solidago selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: From 1 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9, depending on type

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Hens and Chicks

hens and chicks plants
Peter Krumhardt

As no-care as it gets, hens and chicks is a super-easy, drought-tolerant groundcover you can depend on to look good all year long.

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

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Joe Pye Weed

joe pye weed
Hedrich-Blessing Studio

Bearing giant puffs of reddish-purple flowers in late summer or early fall, this North American prairie perennial is a perfect choice for the back of the bed or border. Joe Pye weed reaches up to 7 feet in ideal conditions (though smaller selections are available) and attracts butterflies.

Plant Name: Eupatorium purpureum

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist soil

Size: To 7 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Zones: 3-9

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New Zealand Flax

new zealand flax
Frances Litman

A container-garden favorite in colder areas, New Zealand flax is a topnotch perennial in milder areas. It creates a clump of architectural leaves that add visual energy to beds and borders. For even more appeal, select cultivars that have variegated foliage.

Plant Name: Phormium selections

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

Size: To 6 feet tall and wide

Zones: 9-10

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Red-Hot Poker

red hot poker plant
Laurie Dickson

Employ this low-care plant to add a touch of whimsy to your yard. Red-hot poker bears summertime spikes of yellow, orange, or red flowers above clumps of grassy foliage. It's a great cut flower, too.

Plant Name: Kniphofia selections

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

Size: To 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Zones: 5-9, depending on type

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Rosemary

rosemary shrub
Edward Gohlich

Use rosemary to fill your garden with the scent of the Mediterranean. This evergreen shrub offers leathery leaves that deer don't touch. Harvest the leaves and add them as you cook to imbue your food with fresh, herbal flavor.

Plant Name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 5 feet tall and wide

Zones: 8-10

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Russian Sage

russian sage
Peter Krumhardt

A king of the late-summer garden, Russian sage bursts forth with feathery wands of violet-purple flowers over masses of silvery foliage. Like many other plants disliked by deer, it 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

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