Why a post on deer resistant plants? Good question. The answer, I moved to an area where these beautiful plant killers roam. In search of answers, I created this go-to reference for deer-repealing, Texas and Hill Country greenery. Plant these beauties and you’ll sleep better at night knowing that your landscaping is — semi-safe from these ravenous meaning creatures.
What kind of deer resistant plants are you looking for?
- Deer ‘Shrubing’ Greenery
- Deer ‘Annually’ Stay Away
- Anti-deer ‘Perennial Power’
- Deer-Disappearing ‘Groundcovers’
What kind of plants do deer like to eat?
Before we dig into what plants are best for deer-infested areas, let’s talk about what deer like to eat. Generally, deer love narrow-leafed evergreens. This is especially true for hostas, daylilies, English ivy, arborvitae and fir according to researchers from the University of Rhode Island.
The researchers studied white-tailed deer damage to nurseries in the Northeast and found the heaviest gouging occurs from October through February. This is when food is naturally scarce. Interestingly, several participants in the study noted that deer seem to prefer plants that have been fertilized to those that haven’t.
Deer are attracted by these plant characteristics:
- Lush, tender leaves with high water content (deer satisfy one third of their water needs from plants)
- Plants high in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and salts (this generally equals plants that are frequently fertilized)
What kind of plants do deer dislike to eat?
Deer don’t like strong or fragrant smells. Herbs and flowers like sages, ornamental salvias, lavender, peonies and bearded irises, aren’t on the menu for these four-legged creatures. Looking for a beautiful perennial? Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are a popular deer resistant pick!
A general rule-of-thumb is deer tend to stay away from “stinky, sticky, fuzzy and thorny”.
Keep in mind, there are really no completely deer-proof plants. A general rule-of-thumb is deer tend to stay away from “stinky, sticky, fuzzy and thorny”. Here’s some popular plants that deer rarely — or seldom severely damage.
Common deer resistant plant characteristics:
- Bitter taste
- Leaf texture (hairy, leathery, spiky)
- Color (deer often avoid gray/silver foliage)
- Pungent aroma (interferes with their sense of smell, which is their primary method of detecting danger)
Popular Deer Resistant Plants
In Texas, it’s a natural sight to see deer wandering around the neighborhood. They’ll eat almost any type of plant when hungry. It gets especially bad during drought conditions when there’s limited vegetation. Through the trials of many Texans, try these deer resistant plants that deer will turn to only as a last resort. We’ll focus on three factors:
- Deer resistant plants that only get eaten in tough times
- Drought tolerant plants for the Texas summers
- Low-maintenance plants that require little to no care