Last Updated November 2, 2022

In Need of Deer Resistant Plants

Are deer getting too close for comfort in your Delaware County, PA, landscape?

You have to make some very important choices when it comes to designing your outdoor landscape and living spaces in our neck of the woods. You will need to consider deer resistant plants, shrubs, and trees in southeast Pennsylvania. As you are well aware there is a very heavy deer population throughout Media, Garnet Valley, Glen Mills, Swarthmore, and Wilmington in the Delaware area.

Deer can certainly be interesting wildlife to have around. However, in addition to protecting the investment of your landscape plants, you also need to be concerned about ticks and other diseases deer carry that can be dangerous to your family and pets!

You don’t want to waste your hard-earned money and time on providing the local deer with a buffet of tasty plants to snack on and decimate your foliage. The experts at Cider Mill Landscapes can help you carefully select options that are beautiful and also deer resistant plants. Keeping these pests clear of your property.

Choosing Deer Resistant Plants

A hungry deer will eat almost anything. However, there are plenty of shrubs and trees that you can plant that deer will usually not bother unless starving. Deer resistant plants are effective because their:

  • naturally occurring bad flavor
  • strange texture
  • or strong smell

These traits will give your landscape a fighting chance by having deer go elsewhere rather than your prized garden.

What Do Deer Like to Eat?

If planting a new landscape in an area with a high deer population, you will want to avoid plants that deer like to eat. At the top of the list you’ll want to avoid:

  • yew
  • thuja (arborvitae)
  • hemlock
  • most fruit trees
  • rhododendron
  • azalea
  • euonymus
  • hosta
  • lilies

These plants are among deer favorites. Many homeowners complain that deer will literally pick the flowers right off their rose bushes.

Deer Resistant Plant Options

Of course, you are probably wondering what’s left to plant if we lop off such a big selection of favored standards of the garden such as these. Is the only solution to resort to a boring and lifeless garden with no pizzazz?

Salvia a Deer Resistant Plant

Salvia a Deer Resistant Plant

Not at all! We can help you select plants, flowers, and trees that will give you a dazzling landscape design for all seasons. Deer resistant perennials that add color include:

  • Ageratum
  • Alyssum
  • Begonia
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coneflowers
  • Forget-Me-Not
  • Foxglove
  • Gaillardia
  • Heliotrope
  • Marigold
  • Morning Glory
  • Nasturtium
  • Ornamental pepper
  • Poppies
  • Salvia
  • Shasta Daisies
  • Geranium
  • Snapdragons
  • Stock
  • Vinca
  • Yucca
  • Zinnias

Large Deer Resistant Plants

Some more of our larger favorites to use in our zone 6 that deer tend to avoid are:

  • Boxwood
  • Hellebore
  • American Holly
  • Nepeta
  • Ajuga
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Leucothoe
  • Hakone grass
  • Lavender
  • Pieris
  • Mahonia
  • Various ornamental types of grass (like Pennisetum and  Karl Foster)
  • Miscanthus
  • Peony
  • Birch
  • Ferns

Deer Resistant Shade Plants

Have a lot of shade? Here are twelve deer resistant shade plants for you to consider for your garden or landscape:

  • Lungwort
  • Astilbe
  • Columbine
  • Bergenia
  • Ligularia
  • Brunnera
  • Skimmia
  • Daphne
  • Pachysandra
  • Epimedium
  • Foamflower
  • Windflower

Deer Resistant Plants for Sun

Have a lot of sun in your outdoor spaces? Here are some deer resistant plants for sun:

  • Globe Amaranth

Deer Resistant Annuals

Looking for deer resistant annuals? Look no further. Here is our list of 15 deer resistant annuals:

  • Snapdragon
  • Lavender
  • Zinnia
  • Dusty miller
  • Spider Flower
  • Marigold
  • Heliotrope
  • Coreopsis
  • lantana
  • Ageratum
  • Larkspur
  • Verbena
  • Cosmos
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Nasturtium

Deer Resistant Container Plants

Looking for deer resistant container plants for your landscape? Here are ten plants to consider:

  • Dusty Miller
  • Tricolor Sage
  • Marigold
  • Heliotrope
  • Verbena
  • Euphorbia
  • Iceland Poppy
  • Ageratum
  • Lantana

If there are already legacy plants and trees in your landscape that you want to keep, we do have a few solutions. One is to plant other plants deer find yucky around those you want to protect in your garden beds such as herbs like Basil, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, and Rosemary. Not only do they help deer move away to some degree, but they also have wonderful use in the kitchen!

If you have a much larger yard to defend, Cider Mill Landscapes can install a veritable “deer screen” around the perimeter of your property. Which includes specimens that deer don’t find tasty that creates almost a wall of nasty flavored trees and shrubs that deer find unsuitable to browse.

We can also add Deer Scram to the installation of new landscapes in areas that are susceptible to a heavy deer population. Which is a natural and environmentally friendly repellent that keeps deer at bay.

Cider Mill LandscapesLet Cider Mill Landscapes help you select plants, shrubs and trees that will defend against deer browsing, yet look spectacular.

If you are in southeast Pennsylvania or northern Delaware, give us a call at (484) 574-4666. You can also email us at

Deer Resistant Plant FAQs

Do deer eat hydrangeas plants?

Unfortunately yes, deer eat hydrangeas plants. The deer enjoy grazing on the flower, leaves, and the hydrangeas’ tender tips. However, if you really want to have hydrangea in your gardens, there are techniques to reduce damage from deer. Sadly, hydrangeas are not deer resistant.

Do deer eat roses?

Unfortunately yes, deer eat roses. Deer will eat your rose plants’ blooms, buds, foliage, and even thorny branches. The rose bush is actually highly attractive to them. Most likely because of the fragrance. They will do a lot of damage to your rose plants if proper steps are taken to protect them. Unfortunately, roses are not deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat azaleas?

Unfortunately yes, deer eat azaleas. Deer will eat the leaves down to through the stems. Sadly, while beautiful, azaleas are a favorite of deer that are often severely damaged. Unfortunately, azaleas are not deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat pansies?

Yes, deer eat pansies, in fact they love them. Sometimes labeled “deer candy”, pansies are not plants that will last long in an area heavily populated by deer. Unfortunately, pansies are not deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat impatiens

Yes, deer eat impatiens. The flower of the impatient has a sweet flavor to the deer. Thus, they will be targeted if they are in your garden or landscape. Unfortunately, impatiens are not deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat hibiscus?

In general deer do not eat hibiscus. While deer might eat the hibiscus’ greenery if other sources of food are scarce, it is not a primary target for deer. Thus, you can expect little to no damage by deer. So you can consider hibiscus a deer resistant plant.

Do deer eat rhododendron?

Yes, deer eat rhododendron. The deer will eat the leaves and flowers, especially in winter. The plant is actually toxic to the deer. However, that doesn’t matter as they don’t eat enough in one meal to cause any symptoms. So unfortunately rhododendron are not deer resistant.

Do deer eat coleus?

In general, deer do not eat coleus. As with any animal if food is scarce they deer may resort to eating coleus. However, the plant is actually toxic to deer and other mammals. So they will only eat the plant out of necessity. So coleus is deer resistant.

Do deer eat lilies

Sadly, deer eat lilies, and thoroughly enjoy them. While deer will eat almost any plant when food is scarce, lilies are a plant they prefer and will target them over other plants. Unfortunately, lilies are not deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat irises

Deer do not eat irises. The deer find irises to smell bad and have a bad taste. As with other plants, they’ll eat irises when food is scarce. However, under normal conditions, irises are deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat clematis

In general, deer do not eat clematis. These vines have little pests in fact. You may need to protect clematis from deer when they’re young to allow them to grow healthy. But long-term clematis are a deer-resistant plant plants.

Do deer eat snapdragons

In general, deer do not eat snapdragons. These beautiful and fragrant plants will attract wildlife like butterflies and hummingbirds to your landscape. However, snapdragons are deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat daisies

In general, deer do not eat daisies. Some variations of daisies are even less appetizing than others. Overall though deer do not make them a primary food source. Thus, daisies are deer resistant plants plants.

Do deer eat poppies

Deer do not eat poppies. The strong scent of poppies keeps them away. They are also toxic to deer. They are unlikely to eat any part of the plant. Making poppies deer resistant plants.

Do deer eat gardenias

Generally speaking, deer do not eat gardenias. The deer do not have an attraction towards gardenias. That said, as with any plant, if the conditions are right and food is scarce they may become a target of deer. Overall though gardinias are deer resistant plants.

Further answers to these questions and other plants can be found at Rutgers’ study for Deer Resistant Plants.

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