8 Best Deer Resistant Perennial Flowers (With Photos)

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By Arthur Mbanefo

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Has this happened to you: you woke up one morning to trace a hoofprint to your garden, only to discover deer have nibbled your perennial blooms?

I have on numerous occasions. And it is SHATTERING! 

However, it made me start planting dear resistant perennial flowers instead. Deer despises them, but that doesn’t mean they are ugly and won’t compliment your outdoors. 

Of course not! They have unappealing taste, scent, or other characteristics to deer. 

Here are the best ones to plant:

8 Best Deer Resistant Perennial Flowers

1. Lavender

YEAH! YEAH!! 

You must have guessed it. But lavender’s fragrant, finely textured, and fuzzy leaves are rarely on the menu for deers. 

While it has such an enticing and soothing scent, deers don’t like it! They find it a strange plant with a strange smell. And you can capitalize on that.  

Not only will lavender add a touch of elegance to the garden with its attractive spikes of tiny, fragrant flowers, but it also keeps deer at bay. 

2. Russian Sage

I’m not Russian Sage’s biggest fan. But so long as it can put off deer a yard away from my garden, I’m cool having it around. 

Another thing that might interest you is that they are drought-tolerant once established. And they can do this exceptionally well.

Their bright amethyst blue flowers and growth habit are a massive statement to your landscape structure.

They have a long blooming period of aromatic foliage that attracts pollinators. On top of that, Russian Sage is a maintenance perennial with little to no pruning and can resist disease single-handedly.  

3. Salvia

Salvia is a lovely perennial staple for every spring garden. It produces deer-resistant perennial flowers that attract good pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, but not deer. 

Deers tend to avoid salvia for their unusually aromatic foliage. 

To your garden, it is a blessing of sensory dimension. They can make an excellent cut flower for beautifying indoors since they last longer in vases.  

Furthermore, Salvia’s strength can act as a deterrent for garden pests like aphids. Many gardeners use them as companion plants to protect nearby vegetables and flowers.

You also have many species and cultivars to choose from —from tall spikes to border or compact varieties for your container gardening. 

4. Catmint

Catmint and catnip are almost identical in scent and are widely known for luring cats. However, the latter does not repel deer. 

Catmint hails from the mint family (Lamiaceae) and has the bloodline of their aromatic solid scent, disturbing deer and pests. 

Pollinators always hover around their attractive flowers that are in long bloom. 

They are remarkably easy to maintain since they are drought-tolerant and can thrive in almost any soil condition. 

Aside from that, Catmints love full sun and well-drained soil. But once established, they can still thrive if denied of these essentials. 

For ground cover, we recommend the  Cat’s Pajamas. They are dwarfy and ideal for edging vegetable gardens, sunny walkways, or rose beds. But if you prefer the bigger variant, try Cat’s Meow. 

They all have the fragrance, aesthetics, and medicinal uses of Catmints’.

5. Bee Balm

Indeed, you would expect these results from any member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). 

Bee Balm, also called  Oswego Tea or Wild Bergamot, has that distinctive fragrance from its ancestry. The leaves and flowers harbor essential oils that are beneficial to health. 

And while their attractive scarlet flowers and minty fragrant foliage bloom all summertime, guess what? 

Once deer catch a whiff of their scent, they steer clear!

They also come in different variants. I remember the clump-forming varieties ALWAYS return yearly and withstand powdery mildew attacks very well. 

The Leading Lady bee balm is the first to lighten your garden with vibrant color. Meanwhile, the Pardon My and Upscale varieties have the most extended bloom season.

6. Ornamental Grass

Ornamental grasses could work as a deterrent for deers lurking around your harvest for harvest. 

As we know, these grasses are a diverse group of plants. They have striking foliage, movement, and graceful form, adding visual interest to any outdoor space. 

Here are a few of the grasses that are deer-resistant due to their delicate, arching foliage, aromatic flowers, and attractive plumes: 

  • Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
  • Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)
  • Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
  • Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis)
  • Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima)
  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
  • Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
  • Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha)
  • Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)
  • Sedge Grass (Carex spp.)
  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

7. Lungwort

Lungwort are early spring bloomers that produce clusters of small, tubular flowers that are breathtaking to watch, especially when planted in different shades. 

You CAN NOT deny their striking variegated foliage!

And while these splashes of color will take your garden aesthetic to the next level, the sappy cucumber smell is not one deer can entertain. 

On the bright side, their buzzing bumblebees with vibrant pink and blue blossoms lure in pollinators like bees and early-emerging butterflies.

Lungwort is also shade tolerant, thriving from shaded or partially shaded spots in the garden where most plants struggle due to low light conditions.

They are low-maintenance perennials and can resist pests and diseases without your help. 

8. Ornamental Onion

As you might have guessed, ornamental onions belong to the Allium genus. 

Hence, crushing the leaves or bulbs or brushing against them releases this oniony, somewhat garlicky, and sulfurous, with herbaceous undertones.

These are small deer that rabbits despise. 

Thus, having a couple of Ornamental onions helps serve as a deterrent while complimenting the space. 

They also draw in bees foraging for pollen on them thanks to their bountiful bulbs and flowers on each plant. 

Many of them add density with more blooms to the garden. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Flowers, Vegetables, Or  Shrubs Does Deer Love To Eat?

There are loads of them, but here are some of the popularly known ones: 

  • Plantain Lily (Hosta sieboldiana)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)
  • Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp.)
  • Clematis (Clematis spp.)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Grape Vine (Vitis spp.)
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Pansies, Violas and Violets (Viola spp.)
  • Dahlia (Dahlia spp.)
  • Tulip (Tulipa spp.)
  • Rose (Rosa spp.)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Azalea and Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.)

If any of the above plants in your backyard are exposed to the wild, you could invite deer for a feast. 

Do Deer Eat Tomato Plants?

Deer won’t hesitate to crush your tomatoes upon first sight. 

They relish this vegetable for its high nutrient and water content.

But this is what to do if you have a couple of tomato plants in your garden and are overly concerned about whether deer could nibble on them: 

Use some of these deer-resistant perennial flowers as companion plants. The spicy scent surrounding your tomato plant will make it a no-go area. 

You can also try a couple of homemade deer sprays and repellent.

What Are The Most Beautiful Perennial Flowers?

Although beauty is subjective and can vary not just on personal preferences but also on the garden and climate conditions. 

But here is a list of perennial flowers that are often considered for their beautiful blooms, soothing fragrance, and overall appeal:

  • Lenten Rose
  • Peony
  • Penstemon
  • Lavender
  • Coral Bells
  • Dahlia
  • Balloon Flower
  • Japanese Anemone
  • Cranesbill
  • Papaver
  • Lungwort
  • Salvia
  • Coneflower
  • Bearded Irises
  • Ranunculus

Conclusion

YES, these perennial flowers are off-putting to deers because of their overpowering or unpleasant scents. 

However, no plant is entirely deer-resistant, as deer could push past boundaries during food scarcity and extreme hunger. 

They might nibble on these less preferred flowers despite their intense fragrance. 

Hence, the surefire way to protect your garden is using a combination of both physical barriers and other deer repellents. This will help reduce the likelihood of potential deer damage to your garden plants.

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