Deer Resistant Annuals

Learn Tips about Planting Deer Resistant Annuals in your Garden

Not everyone knows that they can enjoy an untouched, colorful and booming garden when they plant deer resistant annuals but it is possible!  When the seasons change and winter turns to spring, many gardeners begin to prepare the soil for their garden.  Part of this process can include deciding what they will plant and how they want to design their garden.  Nothing can frustrate a gardener more than when they finally get their chosen plants in the ground and find that almost as quickly as they went in, the deer have eaten them out!  This can all be avoided when you select annuals that deer typically disregard.


Deer are beautiful as well as enjoyable for many people but when the deer destroy lovingly tended gardens, it can become difficult to enjoy their presence in the yard.  Knowing exactly what to plant for both cover and color before designing a garden can not only help to avoid destruction caused by deer but also to create one of the most beautiful gardens you’ve ever planted before.

Gardeners love to add color to their garden and can turn to a number of deer resistant annuals in a variety of brilliant colors!  One of the most popular flowers anyone can plant in a deer resistant garden is marigold.  Marigolds are very easy to grow and love to be planted directly in the sun.  They are available in a variety of colors including orange, white and yellow and tend to be quite hardy.  Depending on the kind you select, they can grow anywhere from one to three-inches in height.

You can also choose Calendula flowers as they are also known as “pot marigolds.”  They are a hybrid and are available in more colors than marigolds alone like sepia, cream or even varicolored varieties.  Calendula also has a more delicate-looking flower so you may want to see both in person before choosing one over the other.  If you have difficult soil or live in an area where saltwater is an issue, Calendula can thrive in almost any conditions and will grow anywhere from nine to twenty inches in height.  You might want to make sure you have a bit of space between each plant because Calendula aggressively self-seeds!

Poppies are a favorite for anyone looking for deer resistant annuals.  Some poppies have delicate flower petals while others tend to be full and hardy.  The Californian poppy or Eschscholzia is especially easy to grow! This poppy is so hardy that all you have to do is put down some seeds in either autumn or spring and they’ll grow.  The typical poppy plant will grow to be between two and three-inches while the Californian poppy can grow up to a foot!  All poppies require direct sunlight to thrive.

Many gardeners love the delicate flowers of the Alyssum plant and the way it provides any garden with a soft edge, but they tend to shy away from it because they think that it might be a bit too sensitive or temperamental.  This isn’t the case!  The trick to a successful edge of Alyssum is to make sure the soil it is planted in remains balanced and doesn’t become too rich.  It tends to thrive, self-seed and offer consistent blooms as long as a careful gardener regularly clips away dead blossoms.  Alyssum offers a lot of color and cover that deer disregard in shades of purple, white and red.

One of the most overlooked but beautiful deer resistant annuals you can plant for color is the Gazania.  The flower resembles a daisy but it comes in so many colorful combinations you can usually find the exact shade or shades you need!  These flowers have character and will close during the night and on overcast days.  The one trick to a happy and healthy Gazania plant is good soil.  A soil that is too rich won’t work for these beauties.  They love the sun and can grow to be over a foot tall.


Now that you have a beautiful variety of colorful deer resistant annuals to start with, you can begin to think about some groundcover.  You will be especially interested in these annuals used for groundcover if you struggle with an abundance of shady areas in your garden.  While many deer resistant flowers need sun, these plants can provide shades of green where nothing else will grow!

Some of the most frequently used groundcovers are pachysandras.  Two, in particular, lead in popularity for deer resistant groundcover and they are the Japanese Pachysandra and the Allegheny spurge.  They grow to be about one-foot in height and width, but the Japanese Pachysandra tends to grow and fill an area faster than the Allegheny spurge.

You may be looking for ornamental grasses rather than pachysandras.  Ornamental grasses are wonderful for groundcover and don’t tend to attract hungry deer in the area.  If you are thinking about ornamental grasses, you should consider choosing northern sea oats, blue oat grass or lilyturf.

Northern sea oats grow in oat-like bunches and become as tall and 1 ½ feet.  During cold weather, the bunches dry out and can be visually attractive as well.  Blue oat grass grows to be two to three-feet tall and features blue-green tone in its foliage.  The grass is spiked and the plant will produce blue flowers during the summer.  If northern sea oats and blue oat grass are taller than you’d like, you can consider lilyturf.  This groundcover plant grows to be a maximum of one-foot and will produce a spiked flower in summer.  During the autumn months, it will produce a dark berry.  Lilyturf is a bit temperamental and likes to have plenty of water but at the same time prefers soil that is well-drained.

Additional deer resistant groundcover plants include bugleweed, creeping myrtle, and dead nettle.  All three tend to be quite hardy, low growing and effective at keeping deer at bay.  The more established these groundcover plants become, the more they seem to flourish.

If you haven’t found any deer resistant annuals that you like or thrive in your garden, you aren’t out of choices!  Did you know that herbs can provide not only deer resistant cover but wonderful fragrance as well?  You might even find that you prefer the look and fragrance of herbs over any other annuals you see!

Catnip is the first plant you should look at if you enjoy fragrance from your garden and you are fond of felines!  It does well in a variety of conditions and can be kept short by trimming or allowed to become quite tall and spread.  If you do trim your catnip, be sure to share the clippings with your favorite cat.

Common thyme is incredibly fragrant, doesn’t get too tall (6”) and can thrive with plenty of sun and good drainage. It does produce a flower but its foliage is what provides its pleasant fragrance and culinary benefits.

Sweet woodruff is a bit taller than common thyme and loves to be planted in the shade.  It produces a pretty white blossom to accompany its pleasant aroma.  The soil for sweet woodruff should be a bit acidic for it to thrive.

Deer control doesn’t have to be an issue for your garden if you know what deer resistant plants to look for!  Whether you are hoping to add color, cover or fragrance to your garden you can do so without attracting unwanted deer from wandering in for a destructive snack.