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Deer-Resistant Garden

The Martha Stewart Show, April 2009

The need to ward off unwelcome wildlife is a common problem for gardeners. For many that means deer, and if they live in your area, chances are they will find their way into your garden sooner or later. By planting wisely with deer-resistant plants, you can decrease the chances of deer stopping by.

Deer-resistant plants have pungent aromatic oils in their leaves that deter deer from munching on their leaves. Also, if leaves are hairy, such as lamb's ears, deer are likely to leave them alone. Plants such as hellebores are poisonous to deer. Plants with thorns on their leaves or stems are also likely to be left alone by deer, though they are not resistant against squirrels and other small animals. These plants should be used as fillers throughout your garden to spread the scent of aromatic leaves to deter deer. With proper planning, there is hope for planting in deer country.

Deer-Resistant Hardy Perennials
Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' ('Golden Jubilee' anise hyssop)
Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' ('Black Scallop' ajuga)
Conavllaria majalis (lily-of-the-valley)
Corydalis 'Berry Exciting' ('Berry Exciting' corydalis)
Corydalis cheilanthifolia (ferny corydalis)
Crambe cordifolia (giant seakale)
Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Craigieburn' ('Craigieburn' wood spurge)
Euphorbia cyparissias 'Fen's Ruby' ('Fen's Ruby' euphorbia)
Geranium wlassovianum (Wlassov's geranium)
Geum coccineum 'Borrisii' ('Borrissii' geum)
Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' (variegated Japanese wind grass)
Hedera helix (variegated English ivy)
Helleborus foetidus (bearsfoot hellebore)
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Iris 'Gerald Darby' ('Gerald Darby' iris)
Lithodora diffusa 'Grace Ward' ('Grace Ward' lithodora)
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' (golden creeping Jenny)
Milium effusum 'Flashlights' ('Flashlights' wood millet)
Muscari botyrioides (grape hyacinth)
Narcissus 'Cheerfulness' ('Cheerfulness' daffodil)
Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' ('Tete a Tete' daffodil)
Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' (golden oregano)
Peucedanum officinale (giant fennel)
Polemonium 'Bressingham Purple' ('Bressingham Purple' Jacob's ladder)
Polygonatum falcatum 'Variegatum' (variegated Solomon's seal)
Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum (Chinese rhubarb)
Sagina subulata 'Aurea' (Scotch moss)
Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold' ('Axminster Gold' comfrey)
Thymus praecox 'Highland Cream' ('Highland Cream' thyme)
Veronica peduncularis 'Georgia Blue' ('Georgia Blue' veronica)

Deer-Resistant Tender Perennials
Alternanthera "variegated" (variegated alternanthera)
Angelonia (angelonia)
Calibrachoa 'MiniFamous Blue' ('MiniFamous Blue' trailing petunia)
Clerodendron ugandense (blue butterfly flower)
Coprosma repens 'Taupata Gold' ('Taupata Gold' coprosma)
Coprosma 'Tequila Sunrise' ('Tequila Sunrise' coprosma)
Euphorbia 'Helena's Blush' ('Helena's Blush' euporbia)
Euphorbia martinii (wood spurge)
Helichrysum 'Icicles' ('Icicles' helichrysum)
Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight' ('Limelight' licorice plant)
Heliotropium arborescens (heliotrope)
Ipomoea batatas 'Sidekick Lime' ('Sidekick Lime' sweet potato vine)
Nephrolepis exaltata 'Rita's Gold' (golden Boston fern)
Pelargonium 'Crystal Palace Gem' ('Crystal Palace Gem' geranium)
Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial' ('Vancouver Centennial' geranium)
Pelargonium 'Variegated Lemon' (variegated lemon geranium)
Salvia chamaedryoides (germander sage)
Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious' ('Golden Delicious' pineapple sage)
Salvia greggii 'Purple' (purple Gregg's sage)
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' ('Black and Blue' blue anise sage)
Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' (variegated culinary sage)
Salvia patens (gentian sage)
Sedum 'Lemon Ball' ('Lemon Ball' sedum)
Soleirolia soleirolii 'Aurea' (golden baby's tears)
Solenostemon cvs. (coleus)
Strobilanthes dyerianus (Persian shield)
Tradescantia pallida (purple heart)
Verbena 'Homestead Purple' ('Homestead Purple' verbena)

Deer-Resistant Shrubs
Acanthopanax sieboldianus 'Variegatus' (variegated fiveleaf aralia)
Buxus sempervirens (boxwood)
Buxus Sinica insularis (Justin Brouwers)
Buxus X (Green Mountain)
Corylopsis pauciflora (buttercup winterhazel)
Corylopsis spicata (spike winterhazel)
Cryptomeria japonica 'Sekkan Sugi' ('Sekkan Sugi' Japanese cryptomeria)
Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' ('Nikko' slender deutzia)
Lonicera nitida 'Baggesen's Gold' ('Baggesen's Gold' boxleaf honeysuckle)
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold' ('Dart's Gold' ninebark)
Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' ('Flying Dragon' hardy orange)
Spiraea 'Golden Elf' ('Golden Elf' spirea)
Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon' (Mellow Yellow spirea)

Special thanks to Jerry Fritz of Pennsylvania's Linden Hill Gardens for sharing this information and giving pansy plants to our studio audience. Planters used on the show were handmade by Pennoyer Newman; for more information, visit

For more helpful gardening information, check out our vegetable garden center.

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