Deer Resistant Perennials for the Persistent Gardener

bell-like white flowers of lily-of-the-valley

Looking for some deer resistant perennials to plant this spring?

Are you asking yourself, “What won’t deer eat?!”

The truth is that deer are voracious grazers, and they’ll eat anything if pressed.

They’ve even eaten poisonous plants from our garden during midsummer droughts.

Yet, there are still some plants that have escaped these herbivorous “predators” year after year.

Here are five deer resistant perennials for you to consider.



These beauties are a spring favorite. 

Peonies are easy to grow. Their bloom time is short but spectacular.

I use peony hoops to keep the heavy flower heads from sagging.  Place the hoops in the ground in early spring and rearrange the stalks through the hoops as the plants grow.

Peonies need a good amount of sun to bloom, at least 6 hours a day. They reach a height of about 3 feet.

Even after they bloom, their palmate foliage is attractive and deer resistant. Water the plants in the heat of midsummer to avoid mildew.





Another perennial, and this one self-sows freely!

These plants have escaped deer grazing year after year, and happily spread in semi-shade. They prefer rich, moist soil.

They have a low (6-8 in.), mounding habit and ferny blue-green foliage.

Corydalis will bloom from spring to fall, though I usually cut them back when the weather gets hot and dry. 

Digitalis lutea

digitalis lutea grows in clumps and sends stalks of light yellow flowers up from those clumps

“Digitalis lutea” by Joan Simon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

This slim foxglove is another self-sower. It forms clumps of basal rosettes from which the flower stalks (2-3 ft.) emerge in late spring. The flowers last through early summer.

It will grow in sun and shade and doesn’t require any fuss.

Digitalis are short-lived perennials, but because they are prolific self-sowers, you will have many years of these moon-glow flowers to enjoy.

Siberian Iris 

siberian iris caesar's brother
Photo: F.D. Richards 

Siberian iris will grow in sun or shade, but blooms best in sun. A

Although the blooms won’t last a week, they are so beautiful when they pop; and the grassy foliage (about 2 1/2 ft.) remains attractive into the fall.

Another late spring, early summer bloomer, you can divide the clumps to move it around your yard.

Lily of the Valley

bell-like white flowers of lily-of-the-valley

These sweet-smelling beauties are guaranteed to brighten your day. Put a small vase on your desk or next to your bed, and enjoy their unsurpassed fragrance.

The deer usually don’t touch them. However, in a particularly dry July, the leaves did get munched down.

They made a glorious comeback the next spring, so don’t worry if you do get some browsing.

These plants prefer part shade. They spread by underground rhizomes that are easy to dig up, divide, and replant.

Deer Resistant Perennials Are Easy to Grow

Well, there you have it – some deer resistant plants to get you started.

I think the best part about these plants is that they are easy to grow and last for years (or divide or self-sow reliably).

That means you can expand your stock year after year without breaking the bank.

Time to hit the dirt!

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3 comments on “Deer Resistant Perennials for the Persistent Gardener”
  1. Sweet! Thanks for commenting.

  2. I love peonies and lily of the valley, both of which I shall plant when I have a home in America.

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