Deer-Proof Flowering Perennials & Shrubs

Baby deerMake no mistake, that little cutie will grow up to be a marauding menace, a furry, four-legged locust that you will want to throttle with your bare hands.  And then eat.

Even though I live in the sprawling suburbia of North Raleigh, deer are a serious problem.  Recently I was talking with a friend who is planning to upgrade the landscaping in her yard.  The first time we discussed this project she was full of excitement about beautifying her yard.  Subsequently someone had put the fear of deer in her heart, and she was now just planning to fill her yard with a bunch of hollies that the deer won’t eat.  Now there’s nothing wrong with hollies – we have plenty of them as structure plants.  But there are loads of beautiful things you can decorate your yard with that these beasts won’t devour.  I quickly scrawled out a list of deer-proof shrubs and perennials that we’ve grown for years and encouraged her, “Don’t let the deer win!”

I thought I’d share that list with some pix in case you too are battling these creatures.  Now, it is true that each year the new crop of babies MAY sample plants that deer won’t normally eat.  You can’t really prevent them from taking one bite of anything, but these are plants that deer (and groundhogs and bunnies, too, for that matter – we’ve got ’em all!) typically leave alone.   It is definitely possible to fill your yard with beautiful blooms that deer won’t eat – “Don’t let the deer win!”

Salvia Mystic Spires Blue

Salvia “Mystic Spires Blue”

Salvia greggii

Salvia greggii

Salv Farin and salv greggii

Left foreground – Salvia farinacea; center foreground -Bluebells; Right background – Salvia greggii.  The Echinaceas on the left I wouldn’t recommend – they do get eaten and aren’t reliably hardy in zone 7.

Rudbeckia and salv black and blue

Foreground – Rudbeckia fulgita “Goldsturm”; Background – Salvia guaranitica “Black and Blue”

Ag Summer Sky and Ham and Eggs

Foreground – Agastache “Summer Sky”; Background – Lantana “Ham and Eggs”

Agastache Acapulco Orange

Agastache “Acapulco Orange”


Agastache “Blue Boa”

Lantana Miss Huff

Lantana “Miss Huff”

Catmint - Nepeta

Nepeta (Catmint)

Ver Giles and Spirea

Pink flowers in the foreground – Veronica “Giles van Hees”; red flowers are Salvia greggii, the tall, bushy clump in the middle is a Solidago “Goldkind”- it blooms late summer and fall.  In the back of this bed you can see some Spirea japonica about to be covered in beautiful pink blooms.


Pineapple Sage; in the foreground are Salvia greggii and some freshly deadheaded Catmints and Agastaches


Hellebores (Lenten Roses) – even in the dead of winter when there isn’t much to eat, the deer will leave these alone.

Peonies 1

Peonies – awesome for cut flowers and the deer ignore them


Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum

Garden border

Salvia “Black and Blue”, Salvia greggii, Lantana “Miss Huff” and a Rose of Sharon.  A horrible picture, I know, but the point is these plants are in front of the picket fence the deer jump over on their way to decimate our garden.  Proof indeed that the deer just don’t like to eat them!


Keep moving fleabags – nothing to eat here!

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