Not this year, deer.
With their natural habitats shrinking, deer are becoming a way of life in many residential neighborhoods across the country. One of the best ways to mitigate the damage these herbivores do to herbaceous (and evergreen) plants is to select ones that are not on their preferred menu. Fortunately there are plenty from which to choose.
Here are 18 totally beautiful shrubs on which deer are more unlikely to dine; your experience, of course, may differ. It should always be noted that especially in winter, when pickings are scarce, a hungry deer will eat even the most unlikely plants. We’ve divided these into zones for easy reference, but check out all of the plants below to see the widest number of choices. For even more nibble-me-not choices, please consult with a local garden center (find yours here).
ZONE: 3 - 5
Spring Glory Forsythia
Zone: 3 – 9
Forsythia may have a short bloom season, but when it is on, it is ON! Explodes with masses of soft yellow early spring flowers. Partial to full sun. Up to 8′ tall, 6′ wide.
Bloomerang® Dark Purple Lilac
Zone: 3 – 7
What’s better than the sweet scent of lilacs? Having deep purple blooms twice a year, first in spring and again mid-summer into fall! Full sun. Up to 6′ tall and wide.
Ivory Tower Yucca
Zone: 4 – 9
Conversation starter especially in colder zones (remains upright year round except in heaviest snows). Spring blooms. Full sun. Up to 4′ tall and wide, with 6′ flower spikes.
ZONE: 6 - 8
Summer Snowflake Viburnum
Zone: 5 – 8
Ignored by deer but loved by nature. Spring flowers, late summer berries, fall color and layered form that shines in snow. Partial to full sun. Up to 8′ tall, 10′ wide.
Miss Molly Summer Lilac
Zone: 5 – 9
Butterflies and hummingbirds love it. Deer, not so much. Dark Sangria-red sterile flowers on compact form appear from July until frost. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall and wide.
ZONE: 9 - 11
Victoria California Lilac
Zone: 8 – 10
Deer (and rabbits) just walk on by the dark cobalt-blue flowers and dense, dark-green aromatic foliage. Ideal for coastal gardens. Full sun. Up to 9′ tall, 12′ wide.
Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage
Zone: 9 – 11
If nearly non-stop blooms, fragrant foliage, and silvery-grey illuminating effect weren’t enough, there’s this–deer want no part of it. Full sun. Up to 3′ tall and wide.
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If you need specific advice for a tricky spot, please leave a comment below. For even more choices, please consult with your local garden center (find one here).