Those pesky deer!

People who aren't gardeners don't understand when gardeners rant about deer. "But what about Bambi?!" they ask. We say, "But what about my Hostas?!" Deer are the number one lament of gardeners across the country. Once they invade your garden, the damage they can do in just one night is astounding. If they keep coming back, it gets to the point that we could almost imagine abandoning gardening altogether. Barring an expensive 8-foot-tall fence, what's a gardener to do? 
Repellents work to a certain degree, if switched frequently and applied faithfully, but the best thing you can do to avoid heartbreak is to grow plants that deer prefer not to munch on. That said, if a deer is hungry enough, it will eat almost anything, so there really is no "deer-proof" plant. But there are deer resistant plants.
Go away!A single deer can do untold damage in a garden in just one night.

Fuzzy, Pungent, Rough & Spiny

Deer love Hostas so much because they're tender, juicy, and bland, like Lettuce. They're not big fans of herbs, though, because most herbs are strongly aromatic and flavorful. Imagine chewing on a mouthful of Sage or Thyme leaves and you begin to get the picture. 

Plants with fuzzy or rough-textured leaves are also a turn-off to deer, as are spiny and poisonous plants, for obvious reasons. With these characteristics in mind, it becomes easier to choose plants that might actually survive the browsing of a hungry herd.

Universities across the country have conducted experiments to document which plants in their test gardens are more resistant to deer than others. Results vary widely, but there are a number of plants that rise to the top of the deer-resistant list. 

Garden SageGarden Sage: deer don't love it...

◄Pungent Herbs are a good bet

Herbs are indispensible in our kitchens, adding wonderful flavor to our favorite meals, but deer find them too flavorful, and will usually pass over them after a jolting nibble. Beyond their culinary value, there are lots of herbs that a beautiful enough to be included in your ornamental beds, too. Garden Sage forms gorgeous mouds of silver foliage that look great all season. Creeping Thyme has lovely purple flowers and a fine texture, and Fennel, with it's clouds of lacy fronds, is an amazing filler in flower beds.

Basil isn't just for pesto. Red Freddy Genovese Basil is a stunning deep purple, and Siam Queen Thai Basil has bright green foliage and showy deep red bracts.And don't forget Chives. Their lavender flowers are a cottage garden charmer.

MarigoldsMarigolds have a bitter flavor that deer resist.

These annuals and perennials taste horrible►

Many perennials, like Hostas, are mild tasting and extra attractive to deer, while others, like these, are naturally bitter or sour or otherwise unpleasant, or even poisonous. If desperate enough, deer will still eat them, but it's a good first line of defense.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium cvs.) - Salvia (Salvia spp. and cvs.) - Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana spp. and cvs.) - Verbena (Verbena spp. and cvs.) - Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus cvs.) - Marigolds (Tagetes spp. and cvs.) - Datura (Datura metel cvs.) - Catmint (Nepeta spp. and cvs.) - Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) - Foxgloves (Digitalis spp. and cvs.) - Euphorbia (Euphorbia marginata) - Licorice Plant (Helichrysum microphyllum)

Spider FlowersSpider Flowers have long thorns that are a good defense against deer

Rough texture and spines are your friends

The rougher the leaf or flower, the less likely a deer will want to munch on it. And spines are an obvious turn-off. Ouch!

Spider Flowers (Cleome hassleriana cvs.) - Borage (Borago officinalis) - Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) - Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens cvs.) - Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria) - Strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum cvs.)

Click here for a discounted collection of deer-resistant flowers

See our entire selection of Marigolds HERE.

See our entire selection of Spider Flowers HERE.

Find more deer-resistant herbs HERE.