The Q&A Archives: Deer resistant plants and flowers

Question: We just built a wonderful house with a protected wetland on the back acre. I want to plant beautiful gardens but we have about 6 deer that visit us regularly. What can I plant that the deer will leave alone? What are my chances of having a rose garden survive them?

Answer: I'm afraid roses are like candy to deer. The only way to successfully grow roses in deer country is to fence them, or plant them in the center of an otherwise deer-unattractive garden. If the deer visit the edges of your garden and don't find anything appealing, they may move on rather than head straight for the roses. At least that's the plan - there are no guarantees. Hungry deer will eat almost anything, but the following plants are rated high on the deer-unattractive list:

Berberis (Barberry); Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub); Clethera (Sweet Pepperbush); Cotinus (Smokebush); Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster); Cytisus (Broom); Daphne (Daphne); Enkianthus camponalatus (Redvein); Forsythia (Golden Forsythia); Gaultheria (Wintergreen); Hamamelis (Witch Hazel); Hypericum (St. Johnswort); Ilex glabra (Inkberry); Ilex opaca (American Holly); Juniperus chinensis (Chinese Juniper); Kalmia latifolia (Mt. Laurel); Kerria japonica (Kerria) Leucothoe fontanesiana vars. (Drooping Leucothoe); Lonicera (Honeysuckle); Mahonia aquifolium (Grapeholly); Myrica (Bayberry); Pieris japonica vars. (Japanese Andromeda); Sarcococca (Sarcococca); Spirea vars. (Bridalwrealth); Syringa vulgaris (Lilac); Viburnum (Viburnum ); Vitex (Chaste Tree) and Weigela. Hope at least some of these plants are just right for your landscape!

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