Deer resistant plants are a great option for those of us who have to deal with these destructive pests. If you’re looking for plants that deer won’t eat, then this post is for you! Below you’ll find a list of the best deer resistant annual flowers, shrubs, perennials, vegetables, and herbs to grow in your garden.

If you’ve ever discovered deer eating the plants in your garden, you know first hand just how destructive they can be. This drives many gardeners to go on a mission to find plants that deer hate, so they can stop the damage once and for all!

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a deer proof plant. Deer will graze on anything if they’re hungry enough, especially during the winter.

But don’t get discouraged! There are lots of different deer resistant plants they eat less often. Many times they’ll skip over these plants for more appetizing options.

Below I will give you tons of ideas for deer resistant plants, plus some tips for keeping these furry pests out of your garden. But first, let’s talk about some plants deer like to eat, so you know which ones to avoid.

Plants Deer Love To Eat

The first question most people have when they spot deer grazing near their garden is, “what plants do deer eat?“. So I thought it would be a good idea to start with a list of plants that deer like to eat the most.

This is not an exhaustive list of course, but these are some of their favorites. So, if you have deer in your yard, then you’ll definitely want to avoid planting these, or take steps to protect them. Your list may be different depending on where you live.

  • Hostas
  • Arborvitae
  • Lilies
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Hops
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Tulips
  • Asiatic lilies
  • Hibiscus
  • Pansies
  • Phlox

Asiatic lilies eaten by deer

Plants That Deer Do Not Like To Eat

Now that you know what deer like to eat, let’s talk about the plants they don’t favor. I hope you’re not feeling discouraged, because there are plenty of plants to choose from in the lists below.

There is no way I could even attempt to list every single deer resistant plant there is though. So, to make it easy to go shopping, you should understand all of the traits that make plants resistant to deer.

What Makes Plants Resistant To Deer?

In general, deer don’t like eating plants that have a strong odor or flavor. They also tend to avoid plants that are prickly or furry, ones that are toxic to them, and those they can’t get to.

So look for these traits when you’re shopping for the best deer resistant plants and flowers…

  • Look for plants that repel deer – Since there are lots of smells deer don’t like, they tend to avoid plants that have a strong odor. Many times these types of plants can even work to repel deer from your garden. So look for highly fragrant plants like onions, garlic, fennel, peonies, tansy, yarrow, and Russian sage, for example.
  • Buy plants deer don’t like to eat – In addition to odors, they also don’t like eating plants that have a strong flavor. Some good examples are herbs like cilantro, lavender, mint, rosemary, basil, and oregano. This wildflower mix contains several plants that deer don’t like the taste of.

  • Select plants rarely eaten deer – Deer don’t like plants that have unappealing textures, like furry leaves or prickly stems. Squash, cacti, lambs ear, barberry, yucca, and artichoke are a few examples of plants deer dislike because of their texture.
  • Choose plants that are poisonous to deer – Some plants are toxic to deer, so they will usually stay way from eating them. Anything in the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant…etc), and rhubarb are examples of plants deer avoid because of their toxicity.
  • Grow plants deer can’t eat – Obviously if the deer can’t get to a plant, then they won’t be able to eat it. This is true of vegetables that grow underground, like beets, radishes, carrots, and other root crops. However deer sometimes do like to graze on the tops of these plants, so you may need to protect them.

A deer walking behind the gardens

List Of Deer Resistant Plants

Below I have organized my list of the top deer resistant plants into four groups: perennials and shrubs, annuals, vegetables, and herbs. This should make it easy for you to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Deer Resistant Shrubs & Perennials

  • Bleeding hearts
  • Yarrow
  • Silver mound
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit
  • Aster
  • Astilbe
  • Barberry
  • Coneflowers
  • Spurge
  • Bee balm
  • Fern
  • Tansy
  • Yucca
  • Columbine
  • Shasta daisy
  • Lupine
  • Coreopsis
  • Black eyed Susan
  • Boxwood
  • Anemone
  • Deadnettle
  • Edgeworthia
  • Mandivilla
  • Peonies
  • Weigela
  • Bearded iris
  • Russian sage
  • Foxglove
  • Daffodils
  • Poppies
  • Lambs ear
  • Prickly pear cactus

Astilbe are deer resistant perennial plants

Deer Resistant Annuals

  • Snapdragon
  • Dusty miller
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Zinnia
  • Straw flower
  • Bachelor buttons
  • Larkspur
  • Verbena
  • Marigold
  • Vinca
  • Spider flower
  • Ageratum
  • Flowering Tobacco
  • Forget-me-not
  • Heliotrope
  • Sunflower

Deer don’t normally eat sunflower plants

Deer Resistant Vegetables

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Leeks
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkins
  • Cucumbers
  • Artichoke
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Okra
  • Parsnips

Deer won’t usually eat zucchini plants

Deer Resistant Herbs

  • Fennel
  • Chives
  • Garlic chives
  • Mint
  • Dill
  • Rosemary
  • Chamomile
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Lemon balm
  • Lavender
  • Cilantro
  • Marjoram
  • Lemongrass

If you’re looking for even more ideas, then I recommend the book “50 Beautiful Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat“. It’s a great reference, with tips for deer resistant garden design, and of course a list of plants.

Some herbs that can repel deer

Tips To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden

Using deer resistant plants is the best first step to prevent major damage to your garden. But, that’s not necessarily going to be the end of your problem.

Deer are persistent, especially once they get comfortable in your yard. And the longer they’ve been around, the harder it’s going to be to keep them from coming back.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to prevent them from destroying your garden. Here are a few tips to keep deer away from plants…

  • Use deer spray repellent – Using natural deer repellent spray works pretty well, as long as you’re diligent. Spray it directly on the plants to prevent deer from eating them, and reapply often. If you’re unsure of which kind is the best to use, Bobbex, Plantskydd, and Liquid Fence are all great organic brands.

  • Create a protective perimeter – Line the perimeter of your garden with deer resistant plants to create a barrier around the ones they love to eat. This will make your garden less inviting to them, and it works for protecting both flowers and vegetables.
  • Use plants to repel deer – Intermixing natural deer repellent plants strategically into your garden is another great way to keep them out. Not only does this make your garden less tempting, strong smelling plants can also mask the scent of the more appealing ones.
  • Cover sensitive plants – Using a physical barrier will make it harder for the deer to eat your plants. You can encircle vulnerable plants with chicken wire or use metal fencing. You could also try using floating row covers, or use deer netting to protect plants.
  • Grow vegetables deer love vertically – If you find that deer are taking bites out of the fruits of vegetables like squash and cucumbers, then try growing them vertically. An a-frame, arch, or a lean-to style trellis are all excellent choices. The vegetables will hang down on the inside of the trellis, keeping them more protected, or hiding them from the deer.

Related Post: How To Protect Grapes From Birds & Bugs

Two deer waiting to eat plants

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as deer proof plants, they will eat anything when they get really hungry! But there are many types of plants that they don’t eat as often. So fill your garden with deer resistant plants and shrubs to make your life a little easier.

Related Products

More Posts About Garden Pest Control

  • How To Use Beneficial Nematodes As Organic Pest Control
  • Using Ladybugs For Natural Pest Control
  • Avoiding The Dreaded Iris Borer
  • Fighting The Good Fight Against Bad Bugs

Share your favorite deer resistant plants, or tips for keeping deer out of your garden.

Deer Proof Gardening: What Vegetables Are Deer Resistant

In combat and sports, the quote “the best defense is a good offense” is said a lot. This quote can apply to certain aspects of gardening too. In deer proof gardening, for instance, this can be quite literal since plants that smell offensive to deer can deter them from their favorite edibles. Planting a garden with edible plants deer don’t eat is also a defense. Continue reading for tips on deer proofing the garden and a list of fruits and vegetables deer won’t eat.

Deer Resistant Edibles

The sad fact is that there are actually no completely deer proof plants. When herd populations are large and food and water are scarce, deer will graze on whatever they can. Deer get about a third of the water they need from eating plants, so in times of drought they may eat unusual plants just to avoid dehydration.

The silver lining, is that usually a desperate deer will find wild plants or ornamentals before raiding your vegetable garden. However, if your garden contains fruits and vegetables favored by deer, they just may go the extra mile. Knowing which plants are irresistible to deer can help you properly use companion plants to deter deer from their favorites. Below is a list of plants that deer love to eat.

Edible plants deer love

  • Apples
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Blueberry
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrot tops
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Pumpkins
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet potato

Are There Fruits and Vegetables Deer Won’t Eat?

So what vegetables are deer resistant? As a general rule, deer don’t like plants with strong pungent scents. Planting these plants around the garden perimeter or around their favorite plants can sometimes be enough to make deer seek food elsewhere.

Deer also don’t tend to like plants with thick, hairy or prickly leaves or stems. Deer can be a little lazy about digging up root vegetables, but this doesn’t mean they won’t eat their aerial foliage. For example, they are very fond of carrot tops but rarely eat the carrots. Below are lists of edible plants that deer don’t eat (usually) and edible plants that deer sometimes eat, though they are not preferred.

Edible plants deer don’t eat

  • Onions
  • Chives
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Lemon Balm
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Artichoke
  • Rhubarb
  • Fig
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon

Edible plants deer don’t like but may eat

  • Tomato
  • Pepper
  • Potatoes
  • Olive
  • Currants
  • Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Melons
  • Okra
  • Radish
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Serviceberry
  • Horseradish
  • Borage
  • Anise

Deer Resistant List

King’s guide to deer resistant plants. Deer can be a frustrating nuisance, but there is some relief! The following is a sample of shrubs and flowers that deer generally avoid and do well in our area. We do like to recommend that a repellent such as Liquid Fence be used when plants are first planted to protect young foliage. The list is arranged by botanical name followed by common name.

Annuals:

Ageratum houstonianum – Floss Flower

Alcea species – Hollyhock

Celosia cristata – Cockscomb

Centaurea cyanus – Bachelor’s Button

Cleome spinosa – Spider Flower

Coreopsis species – Coreopsis

Cosmos species – Cosmos

Dyssodia tenuiloba – Dahlberg Daisy

Eschscholzia californica – California Poppy

Gaillardia species – Gaillardia

Gypsophila – Baby’s Breath

Helianthus species – Sunflower

Impatients balsamina – Balsam

Impatiens wallerana – Busy Lizzie

Ipomoea species – Morning Glory

Limonium sinuatum – Statice

Lobelia erinus – Lobelia

Lobularia maritima – Sweet Alyssum

Myostis sylvatica – Forget-Me-Not

Nigella damascena – Love-in-the-Mist

Papaver rhoeas – Shirley Poppy

Portulaca grandiflora – Rose Moss

Salvia species – Sage

Sanvitalia procumbens – Creeping Zinnia

Scabiosa atropurpurea – Pincushion Flower

Senecio cineraria – Dusty Miller

Tithonia rotundiflora – Mexican Sunflower

Perennials:

Achillea species – Yarrow

Alcea rosea – Hollyhock

Aloe species – Aloe

Alstromeria – Peruvian Lily

Anenome japonica

Aquilegia – Columbine

Armeria maritima – Common Thrift

Artemesia species – Wormwood

Artichoke

Aster species – Perennial Asters

Astilbe – Meadow Sweet

Aubrieta deltoidea – Common Aubrieta

Aurinia saxatilis – Perennial Alyssum

Bellis perennis – English Daisy

Beloperone guttata – Shrimp Plant

Bergenia – Saxifraga

Brachycome iberdifolia – Swan River Daisy

Centaurea cineraria – Dusty Miller

Centranthus ruber – Jupiter’s Beard

Chrysanthemum frutescens – Marguerite

Chrysanthemum partenuim – Feverfew

Coreopsis species

Dicentra species – Bleeding Heart

Digitalis species – Foxglove

Echium fastuosum – Pride of Madeira

Erigeron glaucus – Santa Barbara Daisy

Eriogonom species – Buckwheat

Erysimum linifolium – Bowle’s Mauve

Euryops species

Felicia amelloides – Blue Marguerite

Galium odoratum – Sweet Woodruff

Geranium – Cranesbill

Gerbera jamesonii – Transvaal Daisy

Gypsophila – Baby’s Breath

Helichrysum species – Strawflower

Helleborus niger – Christmas Rose

Hemerocallis – Daylily

Heuchera sanguinea – Coral Bells

Iris species

Kniphofia uvaria – Red Hot Poker

Lantana montevidensis – Trailing Lantana

Lavandula species – Lavener

Leonotis leonurus – Lion’s Tail

Limonium – Sea Lavender

Liriope muscari – Lily Turf

Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower

Lupinus species – Lupine

Lychnis coronaria – Crown Pink

Mimulus – Monkey Flower

Mirabilis – Four O’Clock

Monarda species – Bee Balm

Nepeta faassenii – Catmint

Nierembergia species – Cupflower

Oenothera species – Evening Primrose

Origanum dictamnus – Crete Dittany

Papaver orientale – Oriental Poppy

Penstemon – Beard Tongue

Phlox subulata – Moss Pink

Rudbeckia hirta – Gloriosa Daisy

Ruta graveolens – Common Rue

Salvia species – Sage, Salvia

Santolina chamaecyparissus- Lavender Cotton

Scabiosa columbaria – Pincushion Flower

Silene acaulis – Cushion Pink

Stachys byzantina – Lamb’s Ear

Tagetes lemmonii – Bush Marigold

Tropaeolum – Nasturtium

Tulbaghia violacae – Society Garlic

Verbena peruviana – Peruvian Verbena

Viola odorata – Sweet Violet

Zantendeschia – Calla Lily

Bulbs:

Alstromeria – Peruvian Lily

Amaryllis belladonna – Naked Lady

Begonia – Tuberous Begonia

Canna

Crocosmia – Montbretia

Crocus

Cyclamen

Cymbidium – Terrestrial orchids

Cypripedium californicum – Lady Slipper

Dahlia imperialis – Tree Dahlia

Freesia

Fritillaria imperialis – Crown Imperial

Galanthus elwesii – Giant Snowdrop

Ixia

Muscari – Grape Hyacinth

Narcissus – Daffodil

Scillia – Blue Bells

Watsonia – Bugle Lily

Zantedeschia – Calla Lily

Grasses (and grass-like plants):

Acorus variegatus – Japanese Sweet Flag

Alopecurus pretensis “Aureovariegatus” – Yellow Meadow Foxtail

Arundinaria viridistriata – Dwarf Running Bamboo

Arundo donax – Reed Grass

Briza maxima/media – Quacking Grass

Calamagrostis – Feather Reed Grass

Carex – Sedge Grass

Deschampsia caespitosa – Tufted Hair Grass

Dietes – Fortnight Lily

Festuca – Fescue

Hakonechloa – Golden

Imperata – Japanese Blood Grass

Juncus – Common Rush

Miscanthus – Feather Grass

Molinia – Purple Moor Grass

Pennisetum – Fountain Grass

Phalaris – Ribbon Grass

Phormium – New Zealand Flax

Stipa gigantea – Feather Grass

Vines and Groundcover:

Ajuga reptans – Carpet Bugle

Anthemis nobilis – Chamomile

Bougainvillea species

Campsis species – Trumpet Creeper

Carpobrotus edulis – Ice Plant

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides – Dwarf Plumbago

Chamaemelum nobile – Chamomile

Clematis armandii – Evergreen Clematis

Coprosma kirkii – Creepingn Coprosma

Erodium chamaedryoides – Crane’s Bill

Ficus pumilla – Creeping Fig

Gazania species

Gelsemium sempervirens – Carolina Jasmine

Hedera helix – English Ivy

Herniaria glabra – Green Carpet

Irish moss

Isotoma – Blue Star Creeper

Jasminium species – Jasmine

Juniper species – Juniper

Lithidora diffusa

Lotus berthelotii – Parrot’s Beak

Mint species

Myoporum parvifolium – Creeping Myoporum

Muehlenbeckia – Mattress Vine

Osteospermum fruticosum – Trailing African Daisy

Pachysandra terminalis – Japanese Spurge

Polygonum – Knotweed

Scaevola – Mauve Clusters

Solanum jasminoides – Potato Vine

Stachys byzantina – Lamb’s Ears

Thumbergia alata – Black-Eyed Susan Vine

Thymus species

Vinca species – Periwinkle

Viola odorata – Sweet Violet

Wisteria species – Wisteria

Zauschneria californica – California Fuschia

Trees:

Acer palmatum – Japanese Maples

Aesculus calofirnica – California Buckeye

Albeisia – Silk Tree

Arbutus – Strawberry Tree

Catalpa species

Cinnamomum camphora – Camphor Tree

Conifers: cedar, fir, pine, redwood, spruce

Cotinus coggyria – Smoke Tree

Crataegus species – Ash

Diospyros – Persimmon

Eucalyptus species

Ficus carica – Fruiting Fig

Fraxinus species – Ash

Ginko biloba – Maidenhair Tree

Lagerstroma indica – Crepe Myrtle

Laurus nobilis – Grecian Laurel

Liquidamber styraciflua – Sweet Gum

Magnolia species – Magnolia

Maytenus boaria – Mayten Tree

Olea europaea – Olive

Pistachia chinensis – Chinese Pistache

Podocarpus granatum – Yew Pine

Punica granatum – Pomegranate

Quercus species – Oak

Quince – Fruiting Quince

Rhus species – Sumac

Scinus species – Pepper Tree

Sequoia sempervirens – Coast Redwood

Thuja plicata – Western Red Cedar

Umbellularia californica – California Bay

Bushes and shrubs:

All Ferns

Agapanthus species – Lily of the Nile

Alyogyne huegelii – Blue Hibiscus

Arctostaphylos – Manzanita

Bamboo species

Berberis species – Barberry

Brugmansia – Angel’s Trumpet

Buddleia – Butterfly Bush

Buxus species – Boxwood

Callistemon species – Bottlebrush

Ceanothus – Wild Lilac

Chaenomeles species – Flowering Quince

Choisya ternata – Mexican Mock Orange

Cistus species – Rockrose

Clivia miniata – Kaffir Lily

Coleonema pulchrum – Pink Breath of Heaven

Convovulus cneorum – Bush Morning Glory

Coprosma kirkii – Dwarf Mirror Plant

Cordyline autralis – Dracena Palm

Corokia cotoneaster – Twisted Cotoneaster

Correa pulchella – Australian Fuchsia

Cotoneaster lacteus – Red Clusterberry

Crassula argentea – Jade Plant

Cyperus species – Papyrus

Daphne species – daphne

Dendromecon harfordii – Island Bush Poppy

Dodonaea viscosa – Hop Bush

Dracena species – Dragon Palm

Echium fastuosum – Pride of Madeira

Echium wildpretii – Tower of Jewels

Elaeagnus species – Silverberry

Erica – Heath

Eriogonum arboresscens – Wild Buckwheat

Euphorbia species – Spurge

Fatsia japonica – Japanese Aralia

Feijoa sellowiana – Pineapple Guava

Ferns – all types

Forsythia species – Forsythia

Fremontodendron – Flannel Bush

Garrya elliptica – coastal Silktassle

Gaultheria shallon – Salal

Geranium – Cranesbill

Geranium – scented varieties

Grevellia species – Grevellia

Hakea sauveolens – Sweet hakea

Halimium lasianthum – Sunrose

Hebe buxifolia – Boxleaf Hebe

Helianthemim nummularium – Sun Rose

Heteromeles arbutifolia – Toyon

Hypericum calycinum – St. John’s Wort

Ilex species – Holly

Impatiens oliveri – Snapweed, Poor Man’s Rhododendron

Iris species – Iris

Juniperus species – Juniper

Kniphofia uvaria – Red Hot Poker

Kolkwitzia amabilis – Beauty Bush

Lagerstoemia indica – Crepe Myrtle

Lavandula species – Lavender

Leptospermum species – Tea Tree

Loropetalum chinense – Chinesse Witch Hazel

Lupinus arboreus – Lupine

Mahonia species – Oregon Grape

Melaleuca species – Melaleuca

Melianthus major – Honey Bush

Metrosideros excelsus – New Zealand Christmas Tree

Moraea iridiodes – African Iris

Myoporum species – Myoporum

Myrica californica – Pacific Wax Myrtle

Myrtus communis – Common Myrtle

Nandina domestica – Heavenly Bamboo

Nerium oleander – Oleander

Philadelphus coronarius – Sweet Mock Orange

Philodendron selloum – Bigleaf Philodendron

Phlomis fruiticosa – Jerusalem Sage

Phormium tenax – New Zealand Flax

Pieris species – Pieris

Plumbago auriculata – Cpae Plumbago

Poinciana gilliesii – Bird of Paradise Bush

Potentilla fruiticosa – Bush Cinquefoil

Prostanthera rotundifolia – Mint Bush

Punica granatum – Pomegranate

Quercus – Oak

Rhamnus californica – California Coffeeberry

Rhododendron species – Rhododendron (not Azaleas)

Rhus species – Sumac

Ribes species – Currant, Gooseberry

Romneya coulteri – Matilija Poppy

Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary

Ruhus vitifolius – Blackberry

Salvia secies – Salvia, Sage

Sambucus caerulea – Blue Elderberry

Sarcococca species – Sarcococca, Sweet Box

Sollya heterophylla – Australian Bluebell

Strelitzia species – Bird of Paradise

Syringa species – Common Lilac

Syzygium paniculatum – Brush Cherry

Tamaarix species – Tamarisk

Tellima grandiflora – Fringe Cup

Tetrapanax papyruferus – Rice Paper Plant

Teucrium fruticans – Bush Germander

Thuya / Thuja scpecies – Arborvitae

Westringia rosmariniformis – Westringa

Yucca glauca – Small Soapweed

Japanese Honeysuckle- Embrace it, Eradicate it, or Deal With it?

There are mixed feelings about this non-native species

By Dudley Phelps

Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is an evergreen, or semi-evergreen, trailing or climbing vine that was human introduced from the orient to New York State in 1806. Since that time, it has been planted for wildlife, erosion control, and as a landscape specimen. It reproduces from seed, cuttings, or layering and the vines have been recorded at lengths of up to 80 feet long. It currently is known to exist to a varying degree in every state including Hawaii, except Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas and is considered invasive in 22 of those states, 30 national parks, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa.

The leaves and tender portions of the vines are an important source of browse for several species, but it’s most often noted as a highly preferred, practically year-round food source for deer, containing 9- 16% protein. The seeds are utilized by several birds including mockingbirds, wild turkey, and quail, but because of its variability in fruiting, the seeds normally only make up a minor component. Due to its vigorous growth when exposed to sunlight, and its clumping nature in the vicinity of fallen or logged tree tops, the “viney” clumps provide escape cover and food for rabbits. The nectar from the yellow to white, showy flowers is an important energy source for hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, and other pollinating insects. If you grew up in an area populated by this vine, you probably remember the trick to extract the sweet drop of nectar and may have taught your kids to do the same.

Most of the interest in Japanese honeysuckle (among our readers) revolves around the fact that deer are highly attracted to its tender foliage, and it’s already present just about everywhere so it doesn’t have to be planted. Add fertilizer, and something like a cut cedar, fencerow, or some welded wire for it to climb on and you have yourself a little “deer food factory.” I arrowed my first “bow buck” about twenty years ago over a patch of fertilized honeysuckle, and twenty years later I arrowed my first buck with traditional archery equipment on the same site, except this time the deer was feasting on other naturally occurring goodies I chose to encourage (with fire) instead of honeysuckle.

The debate over whether or not this plant should be embraced or discouraged will be forever ongoing because Japanese honeysuckle is here to stay regardless. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle on the debate over this species. I don’t plan on spending the rest of my weekend life trying to eradicate this plant from my property, but I don’t plan on encouraging it either. I’ve already mentioned the main “pro” associated with this plant, and considering the whitetail deer is the most popular game animal in the country, it’s a significant pro.

There are plenty of cons, but the main issue off the top of my head relating to forest and wildlife management has to do with the fact that it loves to devour seedling trees. If you chose to cutover 40 acres on your place last year because you had a good acorn crop the year prior, and you’d like to have a good stand of oaks come back, but you also want to fertilize tops in this area to increase honeysuckle tonnage, don’t count on a lot of oaks making it. Japanese honeysuckle loves to grab-hold of newly emerging seedlings to twine around and pull them to the ground. To get back a good stand of oaks you either need luck, plenty of advanced regeneration (sapling sized oaks) present before the site is logged, or you will need to plant trees yourself and employ herbicides, fire, more luck, or a combination of the three to get a great stand of oaks and other hardwoods to return.

If you’re still sold on encouraging honeysuckle for your deer, and the pros outweigh the cons on your property, all you need is sunlight, structure for the vines to climb on and a nitrogen source. The fertilizer isn’t necessary, but will provide more growth. Only use a nitrogen based fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate or urea. A complete fertilizer such as 13-13-13 will encourage flowering and a seed crop, which will increase the likelihood of birds spreading the growth to other areas. Any extra growth resulting from the fertilization will be quickly consumed by the deer, unless you have a low population. If you have a low population of deer on your property, save your money and don’t fertilize.

Some “Don’ts”

  • Be respectful and don’t plant honeysuckle in areas where it doesn’t exist- period. In fact, honeysuckle is against the law to propagate in several states.
  • Don’t encourage honeysuckle if your property is located on the edge of its distribution. The good news is that there are plenty of better alternatives that deer have used for millennia before. In this scenario you probably need to take measures to control or discourage it.
  • Don’t encourage honeysuckle near property lines unless you have discussed the idea with your neighbor.
  • Don’t fertilize with complete fertilizers which may encourage seed development that birds can scatter.
  • Whether you like it or not, throughout most of our country Japanese honeysuckle is here to stay. If you have in the past encouraged honeysuckle, thinking it’s the silver bullet for wildlife management, think again…the cons outweigh the pros. If you are one of those “anti non-native plant racist types” who thinks honeysuckle is going to take over the planet, you’re too late it already has.

Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’

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trumpet honeysuckle, coral honeysuckle

Finally a production and landscape friendly native honeysuckle! Major Wheeler is the best selection of Lonicera sempervirens we’ve grown and it stands out so far above the rest that we’ve dropped all other red cultivars. Clean foliage is the first benefit. Even in periods of drought or in overgrown production, we’ve never seen a speck of mildew on this one. But its real asset is FLOWER POWER! This selection is COVERED in red trumpet flowers in late spring and keeps churning them out all summer long, especially with a post-bloom trim. The hummingbirds will find it from miles around.

SIZE
Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’ – 50 per flat Availability

Height

3-8 Feet

Spread

1-10 Feet

Bloom Color

Red

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8

trumpet honeysuckle, coral honeysuckle Interesting Notes

Lonicera sempervirens can be found on fence rows, roadsides, open woodlands and the edges of clearings, from Connecticut to Nebraska, and south to Texas and Florida. North American Distribution Map

Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’ Growing and Maintenance Tips

‘Major Wheeler’ prefers average, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. More sun will give you more flowers. Tolerant of drought and dry soils once established, but either may reduce flower production and growth. Blooms on previous year’s growth and new growth, so you can trim it back or leave it be. Prune to best suit your site. Lonicera sempervirens is a twining vine and needs small to medium width support to climb. Ideal on a trellis or open fence. Can climb a wood fence with help getting started.

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Deer Resistant Butterflies Hummingbirds Full Sun Part Sun Summer Moist Average Salt Tolerance

Additional Information

Season of Interest (Flowering)

Late Summer
Late Spring / Early Summer
Soil Moisture Needs

Well-Drained
Propagation Type

Vegetative
Attributes

Native to North America

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Friday – July 12, 2013

From: Columbia, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Deer Resistant, Vines
Title: Climbing vines that are deer resistant
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Please find plants that are climbing vines and are deer resistant

ANSWER:

Deer resistance is a relative thing, depending upon the availability (or not) of other more desirable food. So there is no guarantee. But I have in mind several vine species, ranging from the very deer-resistant Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) to Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), which deer love to nibble on. The following species are probably in between in their palatability. Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine), Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper), Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine), Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle), Clematis crispa (Swamp leatherflower) andCelastrus scandens (American bittersweet).

In my experience, deer do not bother Carolina jessamine or Crossvine, but they love Trumpet creeper. Actually, that works out well, because Trumpet creeper tends to produce underground runners that send up shoots in areas where you don’t want them to be.

You did not tell me what sort of site you have for the vines. Some of the above species prefer full sun while others will grow in shade. Some are evergreen and others deciduous. Some grow to a greater height than others. Reading about them on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database will give you the information you need to choose a vine suited to your needs.

I have observed that here in Texas (where the deer are rather small), any foliage at least 4 feet above the ground is not eaten by deer. And they do not generally eat stems free of leaves. So if you protect your vines until they grow high enough, you can enjoy most of the ones I have listed.

Most of the species listed above should be available at one of your local plant nurseries. Some are shown in the images below.

From the Image Gallery

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens
Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens
Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans
Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata
Swamp leatherflower
Clematis crispa
Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

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Photo by Owen Yin

We all love to see wildlife and especially deer, but we don’t want them in our garden eating our plants. Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station has a list, which is accessible on their site, of hundreds of plant species that may deter deer from eating and damaging them. That list of deer resistant Vines is broken down into four categories.

  • Rarely Damaged
  • Seldom Severely Damaged
  • Occasionally Severely Damaged
  • Frequently Severely Damaged

That’s a lot of information to weed through to find exactly what you’re looking for, so here we’ve identified four deer-resistant vines for fall planting. It is, however, important to note that there aren’t really any plants deer won’t consume because if food is scarce and a herd is large enough they will eat whatever they can find.

For the most part, vines are too high off of the ground for deer to damage, but when vines are young they may get eaten before they have a chance to sprout. If you want flowering vines whose leaves will remain intact try these four vines.

5 Deer Resistant Vines

Winter Jasmine

This vine does not have the aroma of typical jasmine. It’s a cheerful plant that doesn’t need much attention and flowers from mid to late winter. You can grow it as a vertical vine or scrambling shrub. It can withstand full sun, moderate watering and will grow in -10°F or -23°C. In the end, you’ll be happy you nurtured the Winter Jasmine because at its maturity it grows up to 15 feet.

Wisteria

This is a beautiful flowering vine, but be sure you purchase the American Wisteria because the Japanese and Chinese species can easily get out of control growing up to 50 feet and engulfing large trees. With the American Wisteria that isn’t a worry; although the flowers and vines are smaller than those of its Asian cousins it’s still an absolutely gorgeous choice. Wisteria flourishes in full or partial sun and with low water.

American Bittersweet

Another nice option for deer resistant vines is the American Bittersweet. Be sure to get the species that are native to eastern and central North America or you’ll have the invasive Oriental Bittersweet on your hands. The American Bittersweet treats us with whitest-yellowish flowers in the summer and later brightly colored fruit that lasts into early winter. Be forewarned: If eaten by humans it is toxic. It will grow in 40°F or 40°C temperatures.

Clematis

If you want a more delicate flower then this is the right choice. Most often seen in purple and white these plants come in about five different species, which determines where the will grow the best. Place them in full or partial sun and water moderately, and you’ll eventually have a vine up to 25 feet.

Even though you’re using the vines to deter deer, the great thing about them is they’re gorgeous and will bring life and beauty to your yard or garden. And, as they’re a fairly low-maintenance choice you’ll be pleased with nurturing them for years to come. Now you can watch deer graze nearby and, hopefully, leave your garden alone.

Soil: Clematis prefer rich, organic soil (no heavy clay) that is slightly alkaline. Additional limestone is not necessary unless a soil test reveals a pH less than 6.
Light: Full sun to part shade. Clematis like to keep their roots cool, so a 2-4 inch layer of mulch is advised once the soil warms up during the hot summer months. To prevent stem rot, be sure to keep the mulch well away from the base of the vine.
Water: Medium
Spacing: 1.5 to 3 feet
Fertilizing: Fertilize your plant once a year in the spring, right after pruning or tidying up.
Winterizing: If you have mulched during the growing season, no special added care is needed.
Maintenance & pruning: Allow the plant to grow with no pruning through its first blooming season. Blooms on new growth, so once established, you can prune hard in fall after flowering or in early spring. Cut the vines back to 6 to 12 inches from the ground in February to ensure a strong flower production the next summer.: Clematis prefer rich, organic soil (no heavy clay) that is slightly alkaline. Additional limestone is not necessary unless a soil test reveals a pH less than 6.Light: Full sun to part shade. Clematis like to keep their roots cool, so a 2-4 inch layer of mulch is advised once the soil warms up during the hot summer months. To prevent stem rot, be sure to keep the mulch well away from the base of the vine.

Find the right plant for privacy without attracting deer

Meet Mike in Fredericksburg next weekend

Mike will appear next Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15 at the Fredericksburg Home and Garden Show at the Expo Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Mike’s lecture times are noon, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. .

Privacy plants that deer won’t devour

Jenn in Catonsville, Maryland writes: “We have 100 linear feet of space along the street that we want to block for privacy, but we don’t like fences — and the area gets full sun. I know that arborvitae is the most popular evergreen for privacy planting, but we have a lot of deer. So I’ve been researching my options.”

Well, you’re wise to rule out the arborvitae, Jenn. Deer love them (arborvitae might be their single favorite food), and the plants don’t handle ice storms very well. So let’s take a look at some of the options you’ve come up with so far.

‘Would ‘Burning Bush’ be effective?’

Sorry Jenn — 100-foot-long row of the burners would look spectacular when they’re at their peak of fiery red, but Rutgers’ excellent “deer and landscape plants” website (see below) rates burning bush (scientific name: Euonymus) a poor choice, as all of the various forms and species of the plant fall under either their “frequently” or “severely damaged” categories.

‘What about a line of holly?’

Great idea. And my first thought was that any holly would be perfect, as it loves sun, and (I thought) have leaves that are too tough for deer to eat — but the Rutgers website says that my assumption is incorrect and the choice of type of holly is critical here.

They rate the “Morris” line of shrub hollies (specifically “Lydia Morris” and “John T. Morris”) as being very deer-resistant, but note that the incredibly popular “Nellie Stevens” holly is frequently eaten.

The American holly also gets an A rating, meaning deer don’t eat it, and it’s a tree form that grows tall. Just be aware that its naturally wide spacing between branch levels would require a well thought-out “staggered” planting design to be an effective screen.

Mike’s thinking grass here — big grass

My suggestion is to consider installing ornamental grasses. They grow quickly, flourish in full sun and the Rutgers website on landscape plantings confirms that deer won’t go near their sharp blades. And you have a huge number of options, many of which will grow tall enough to protect your privacy. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), for instance, reaches a height of 6 feet and then shoots up foot-and-a-half-tall flower stalks. And Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) reaches 10 feet in height and spreads out up to 8 feet. Now that’s a screening plant.

But be warned that there are one or two frisky species of ornamental grasses with seeds can escape your yard and become invasive. So if you like this basic idea, read this article I wrote a few years back about using ornamental grasses as privacy plants. It has a lot more details and recommended plants — and warnings about which one to avoid.

Some things to consider before you start planting

In addition to checking Rutgers’ exhaustive list of plants most and least preferred by deer to make sure that you don’t accidentally plant anything edible (put that link in your “favorites” and consult it before you plant) and do not dig right next to a road without first making sure there are no electrical or water lines down there. Here’s the national resource for such information: 811 — Call Before You Dig. Again, put it in your favorites. “Oopsie” doesn’t cut it when you hit a live wire or sever your sewer line.

And do not plant screening trees or shrubs in a straight line. Number five always dies and leaves you with a gaping hole; and the line is never straight. Instead, stagger two lines of plants in a checkerboard kind of pattern for a much more aesthetic and effective planting scheme.

And remember to leave enough room for the plants to reach full size. That’s another advantage of the staggered effect: You can totally block the view while allowing for airflow between the plants.

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