Plants deer (probably) won’t eat.

Our changing climate, high heat and drought conditions are creating a noticeable increase in deer “browsing”.

Over the years, I have seen many plants that were previously untouched by deer, move to the “edible” list. So what can we plant that they won’t eat? The following list has been compiled by Mark Bridgen, Professor of Horticulture at Cornell University and Director of the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, N.Y. He has researched this topic for more than 25 years.

I would recommend for future plantings … start with this list.


Antirrhinum majus (snapdragon)
Asparagus springerii (asparagus fern)

Begonia sempervirens (wax begonia)
Cleome hasslerana (spider flower)
Colocasia esculenta (elephant ears)
Datura spp. (angel’s trumpet)
Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum)
Nicotiana sylvestris (tobacco flower)
Senecio cineraria (dusty miller)

Most perennial grasses are not bothered by deer.

Herbaceous perennials

Aconitum napellus (monkshood)
Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ (bishop’s goutweed)
Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop)
Allium schoenoprasum (chives)
Allium tuberosum (garlic chives)
Amsonia tabernaemontana (blue star)
Artemesia ludoviciana (white sage)
Artemesia schmidtiana (wormwood)
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)
Athyrium nipponicum pictum (Japanese painted fern)
Calamintha grandiflora (calamint)
Carex spp. (Japanese sedge)
Cerastium tomentosum (snow-in-summer)
Dicentra eximia (fringed bleeding heart)
Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart)
Digitalis purpurea (foxglove)
Dryopteris marginalis (wood fern)
Epimedium spp. (barrenwort)
Euphorbia spp. (spurge)
Fritillaria imperialis (fritillary)
Galanthus nivalis (snow drops)
Helleborus foetidus (stinking hellebore)
Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)
Lamiastrum galeobdolon ‘Variegatum’ (yellow archangel)
Lamium maculatum (spotted dead nettle)
Lavendula angustifolia (lavender)
Lespedeza bicolor (bush clover)
Leucojum vernum (spring snow flake)
Ligularia dentate (ragwort)
Lysimachia nummularia (creeping Jenny)
Mazus reptans (creeping mazus)
Melissa officinalis aurea (lemon balm)
Mentha spp. (mint)
Narcissis spp. and hybrids (daffodils)
Nepeta messinii (catnip)
Origanum vulgare (marjorana) (oregano; marjoram
Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny spurge)
Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra)
Paeonia hybrids (Chinese peony)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)
Rheum rhabarbarum (rhubarb)
Ruta graveolens (rue)
Salvia officinalis (culinary sage)
Santolina chamaecyparissus (lanender cotton)
Santolina virens (green lavender cotton)
Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom)
Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ear)
Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew)
Teucrium chamaedrys (germander)
Thymus spp. (thyme)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Trees and shrubs

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Buddleia davidii (butterfly bush)
Buxus microphylla (boxwood)
Cotoneaster spp. (cotoneaster)
Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar)
Juniperus communis (common juniper)
Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper)
Juniperus procumbens (Japanese juniper)
Juniperus scopulorum (skyrocket juniper)
Leucothoe fontanesiana (drooping leucothoe)
Mahonia bealei (leatherleaf grapholly)
Myrica pensylvanica (northern bayberry)
Osmanthus heterophyllus variegates (variegated false holly)
Paeonia suffruticosa (tree peony)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Picea glauca (white spruce)
Picea pungens glauca (Colorado blue spruce)
Pieris japonica (Japanese andromeda)
Platinus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Potentilla fruiticosa (cinquefoil)
Skimmia japonica (skimmia)
Vitex agnuscastus (hemp tree)

A note on spraying: If you are presently spraying for deer, remember to change the sprays from time to time. Deer will get used to one spray over time making it useless.