6 Plants That Keep Deer Out of Your Yard, According to Experts
Your fruits and veggies will be safe if you include these plants.
Nothing is worse than having a fully harvested garden only to find that it's been ravaged by animals, especially deer. As beautiful as they may be, deer can destroy hours of hard work in a matter of seconds. "Deer are often attracted to yards due to the availability of food, especially during times when natural forage is scarce," says Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, who adds that they are primarily browsers that feed on plants. Luckily, there are also plants you can incorporate into your garden that will deter deer from eating your valuable crops. Keep reading to hear from Clayton and other experts about the best deer-repellent plants.
6 Common Deer-Repellent Plants
1. Bridal Wreath Spirea
Deer come into your yard because they are looking for something to snack on, but they have an aversion to plants that are overly fragrant, fuzzy, thorny, or poisonous, Alex Kantor, owner at Perfect Plants Nursery, tells Best Life.
The Bridal Wreath Spirea shrub checks these first two boxes. "Their flowers are both little and fuzzy, which is a deterrent for deer," he explains. These shrubs also have a strong smell that deer do not like.
This is a low-maintenance plant with tiny white flowers and dark green leaves that change with the seasons to red and orange.
Pretty and purple, lavender smells lovely and can be a great mosquito repellent. And it's a plant that deer tend to avoid, too. According to Clayton, the animals dislike the smell and taste of lavender, so it's often used as a deterrent.
Lavender is also relatively easy to grow and maintain. It's a perennial (a plant that regrows every spring) that thrives in well-drained soil and full sunlight.
3. Scarlet Bee Balm
As the name suggests, Scarlet Bee Balm attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. It's a pollinating perennial native to Georgia with flowers in bright colors.
"Because of the scent it gives, it's repellent to deer," says Kendall Rae Johnson, certified farmer at aGROWKulture. It has a minty orange type of aroma and spreads easily, so it's effective in keeping deer out.
Johnson suggests planting it in the part of your yard where you're concerned deer might eat crops or other plants. If they do happen to munch on this one, it's easy to maintain and grows back a lot quicker than other plants.
Another flower deer avoid is cosmos. They contain a sap called Cosmosin which has a taste that is unappealing to deer.
Johnson says colorful cosmos are usually mixed in with wildflowers, but you can generally plant these annuals anywhere. "Just find a great spot(s) around your favorite vegetable and plant them all around," she suggests.
5. Ornamental Grasses
"Most people don't know this, but ornamental grasses can discourage deer, not just because they aren't palatable, but their razor-like edges can be a deterrent," says Clayton. He shares that he's planted these in areas with extra pesky deer, and destruction is significantly less.
And what's great about this plant is that it comes in so many different varieties, you can easily find one that works well for your climate and matches the aesthetics of your yard.
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6. Winter Gem Boxwood
If you're looking to add some elegance to your yard while also preventing deer from eating your plants, then the Winter Gem boxwood is an excellent choice. This shrub has vibrant green foliage, can thrive all year round, and can be found in sizes big and small.
Plus, deer want nothing to do with it. "Winter Gem boxwood shrubs are deer resistant because all of the plants' parts are toxic to them," says Kantor. They are toxic to humans, though, so be careful.