Yes, there are deer-proof plants, and they are easy to identify. They’re the ones surrounded by tall close mesh fencing. However, those of you with gardens in areas inhabited by deer but without Fort Knox style protection will be more reastically interested in whether there are any deer-resistant plants that you can safely grow.
To which the answer is a qualified yes.
Deer are pretty catholic in their tastes but tend not to graze on plants that are too low or too high for them to comfortably reach. They will also usually avoid those plants that have strongly aromatic foliage or that have some kind of inbuilt defence such as prickles or thorns. That said, if it’s winter and the deer are hungry, they will understandably be less picky and more ready to have a nibble at something they might normally avoid. So there are no real guarantees about deer-resistance, but in the list below you will find suggestions for some perennials, shrubs, ferns and grasses that you might plant in your garden with a degree of hope that they might survive! As always, there will be regional factors and other variables, and you won’t know for certain until you have tried them, but it’s surely worth a go. We will hide smugly behind our tall fencing and wish you the best of luck.
There are couple of websites that might be of interest in this context. The amusingly-named Deer-Departed.com has helpful information and listings, and there is a specialist US nursery whose website might be worth a look. Lastly, there is a US-based list with resistance ratings here.
Rob and Joanna – November 2017