The deer’s natural habitat is shrinking, and it is becoming common for them to target the landscape of residential neighborhoods. While deer do not exactly like to eat shrubs, they will still try to get a taste of them. It is, therefore, essential that you choose deer-resistant shrubs for your garden if you live in an area that has deer.
Best Deer Resistant Shrubs for your Garden
If you do not like deer to attack and damage your shrubs and other plants, choose to include some deer-resistant shrubs for your garden.
Here are some beautiful shrubs deer are more unlikely to feast on:
Kerria is not a typical landscape shrub. It usually grows beautiful yellow/orange double flowers in mid-April and again in summer. This shrub loves the shade. It will root when its branches touch the ground. You can then remove this shrub and transplant it to other areas of your garden.
Kerria has several lovely cultivars, but the Kerria japonica (Japanese Rose) is the easiest to find and the most popular.
Deer do not favor Kerria.
Beautybush is an old-fashioned yet lovely shrub. It has a vase shape and stands upright. It has arching branches similar to fountains—bell-shaped flowers smoother the branches in May and June.
Homeowners and landscapers often use Beautybush as a fence. It needs to have enough space to develop its shape. After flowering, prune older stems to allow maximum blooming. It also thrives in full sun.
3. Bluebeard – my personal favorite!
Bluebeard (Caryopteris), commonly known as the blue mist shrub, blooms as summer comes to an end when few shrubs are flowering. The Bluebeard is resistant to drought. Many pollinators love the Bluebeard.
Butterflies and bees like the flowers of the Bluebeard but its heavy scents jeep deer away. This shrub thrives in well-draining soil with a neutral pH and loves a part shade to whole sun areas.
Cut the Bluebeard by about half during spring to keep it flowering and well-shaped. Prune diseased and dead parts of the shrub when necessary.
Bluebeards have pink, purple, or blue flowers.
The Boxwood (Buxus)shrub has broad leaves. Its leaves do not fall off in winter, making them a common choice for hedges. Boxwoods have alkaloids that deer find distasteful.
Boxwood has yellowish to dark green foliage. It thrives on well-draining and evenly soft soil. It grows well on part shade to full sun areas.
Boxwood requires yearly pruning to remove disease portions and to retain its shape.
5. Arrowwood Viburnum
Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) has bluish berries and reddish fall foliage. It grows white flowers in spring. This shrub can grow from 6 to 10 feet high. It can even grow taller in more ideal conditions.
Arrowwood Viburnum needs to be pruned after flowering to control and maintain its height. It also tends to spread, so it is best to remove suckers so you can contain the plant in one area. It grows dark green foliage and white flowers.
The Arrowwood Viburnum thrives in well-draining soil with average to medium moisture. It loves part shade to full sun.
Arrowwood Viburnum is a deer-resistant shrub.
6. Butterfly Bush
The Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) can be a spectacular landscape shrub. Some cultivars like the “Blue Chip” are either seedless or have few seeds; thus, they are less likely to spread.
The Butterfly Bush attracts pollinators, but deer avoid them. They are low in maintenance. Pruning is necessary only if you want the bush to have prolific flowers and remain compact.
Its stems can be trimmed to the ground in winter to make your landscape have a cleaner look. The Blueberry Bush grows white, yellow, pink, or bluish-purple flowers. They thrive in well-draining, slightly acidic to neutral soil and full sun.
The Juniper (Juniperus sp) has silver, yellow, green, or blue foliage. They grow well in well-daring and sandy soil and full sun. They are easy to maintain. Regular pruning is necessary only to manage its growth.
The Juniper comes from the cypress family. It emits a heavy fragrance. Deer dislike Juniper because their sense of smell is sensitive to the strong odor.
Andromeda (Pieris japonica) is a dense-flowering shrub. Its showy flowers appear in early spring emitting a powerful aroma. The smell of the Andromeda flowers is what keeps deer from eating this shrub.
The Andromeda is low in maintenance, requiring pruning only to maintain its shape. This shrub should, however, be protected from the cold winds of winters.
9. Shrub Roses
Shrub Roses (Rosa sp.) grow white, yellow, pink, purple, and red flowers. This shrub has thorny stems; thus, deer do not like to eat them.
Most Shrub Roses varieties are known for their vibrant color and fragrance. They also attract a lot of pollinators to the garden.
You should prune shrub Roses before flowering (early spring). Overgrown, diseased, and dead wood should also be removed for better airflow and to prevent diseases and pests.
Shrub Roses thrive on evenly moist, average, and well-drained soil.
The Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii “Carol Mackie”) can be challenging to grow because it requires a delicate and well-balanced soil moisture and good drainage. They also tend to die easily, so you should plant them in areas that allow their easy removal.
The fragrance of Daphne shrubs is a true delight in spring. Their poisonous berries and aroma do not sit well with deer, though. Their berries are also poisonous to pets and people.
The Daphne grows white or light pink flowers, neutral to acidic, well-draining, moist, and rich soil.
Deer quickly form habits. They will follow any route that will take them to food. If you want to protect your garden from deer, you will have to either block their path or make them realize that they need to move somewhere else.
Deer feeding on small trees and shrubs in your garden can cause devastating effects to your shrubs. The damage can sometimes be merely aesthetic, and the shrubs can recover. But if the deer completely strips off the bark of your shrub, that means the end of it.
One of the best ways to prevent deer from attacking your garden is to plant the best deer resistance shrubs for your garden.
Deer Resistant and Not Deer Proof
There is no such thing as deer-proof plants. Why? Because no one can predict how deer behave when they are hungry. Their nutritional needs are complex, too. When they are desperate for food, they will settle for plants they have previously avoided.
There are, however, deer-resistant plants. Having the best deer-resistant shrubs for your garden does not mean deer will not eat them, but they will most likely not.
Deer may find these shrubs less tasty; however, if the deer is hungry and has limited food choices, your shrubs will still fall prey to deer.
Keeping Deer Away
There is no such thing as a deer-proof garden. Here are some things that are the closest you can get to deer-proofing your garden.
• Build the Right Fence
Building a proper fence can keep deer off your garden and eat your plants. This can be expensive because it is as if you are fencing yourself inside your property instead of fencing out deer.
Make sure you build a fence that is at least eight feet tall. Deer can easily jump over fences that are lower than that.
• Scare off Deer
You can scare off deer by setting up motion-activated sprinklers. Deer will run for their lives and away from your plants when sharp bursts of water are aimed in their direction.
• Regularly Use Deer Repellants
Deer repellants are effective when used regularly. If you only spray repellants only when you want to, expect deer to be regular visitors in your garden. Never skip on an application! Write it down or set the alarm on your phone – spray deer repellant at least once a week.
Deer repellants combine taste and odor deterrents so they can smell bad until they dry.
Apply deer repellant only on plants that are not deer-resistant. Deer will love to nibble the twigs of your apple tree during winter, so religiously spray the tree with deer repellant every week.
• Choose Deer-Resistant Plants
This is a no-brainer. Deer-resistant plants are those that deer are not likely to eat.
Deer are cute animals, but they can cause a lot of damage to your garden. There are many creative ways to keep the hungry Bambi off your pretty shrubs. Deer-resistant shrubs for your garden, though, are your best option.
It would be best if you did not allow deer to see your garden as a salad bar. Pick shrub varieties that are low on the list or not on deer menus. Choose shrubs that will add beauty to your garden and are low in maintenance.
There are many sources of deer-resistant shrubs for your garden. Check out nurseries in your locality or consult your landscaper.