Deer Resistant Plants for the Landscape

Millie Davenport,
HGIC Horticulture Extension Agent,
Clemson Extension, Clemson University

HTG 0417

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White-tailed deer cause damage to landscape plants as well as edible crops. What they eat and how much they eat varies depending on their age, gender, and the season of the year. Deer do not have upper incisors or sharp teeth like rabbits do, so they leave jagged or torn plant branches and leaves when they feed. This type of damage makes identification easier. In addition, deer tracks are often visible on the ground around the damaged plants.

Deer will eat plants they prefer before consuming less desirable species. Azaleas, blueberries, clematis, daylilies, hosta, impatiens, Indian hawthorn, pansies, and roses are some of the plant species that deer find highly attractive. By selecting plants that are least preferred, damage in the landscape can be reduced. While no plant is completely fool proof, deer seldom damage the plants listed in the tables below.

White-tailed deer cause damage to landscape plants as well as edible crops.
White-tailed deer cause damage to landscape plants as well as edible crops.
Millie Davenport, ©2017 HGIC, Clemson University

Common NamesBotanical NamesLight Requirements
Red Buckeye Aesculus pavia var. pavia Part Shade
River Birch Betula nigra Full Sun/ Part Shade
Deodar Cedar Cedrus deodora Full Sun/ Part Shade
Hawthorn Crataegus species Full Sun
Japanese Cedar Cryptomeria japonica Full Sun/ Part Shade
Ginkgo Ginkgo biloba Full Sun
Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos Full Sun
American Holly Ilex opaca Full Sun/ Part Shade
Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana Full Sun
Crape Myrtle Lagerstroemia hybrids Full Sun
Southern Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora Full Sun/ Part Shade
Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginica Full Sun/ Part Shade
Carolina Cherry Laurel Prunus caroliniana Full Sun/ Part Shade
Live Oak Quercus virginiana Full Sun
Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum Full Sun
Chaste tree Vitex agnus-castus Full Sun

Common NamesBotanical NamesLight Requirements
Glossy Abelia Abelia x grandiflora Full Sun/ Part Shade
Wintergreen Barberry Berberis julianae Full Sun/ Part Shade
American Beautyberry Callicarpa americana Full Sun/ Part Shade
Blue Mist Shrub Caryopteris x clandonensis Full Sun
Fothergilla Fothergilla gardenii Full Sun/ Part Shade
Inkberry Holly Ilex glabra Full Sun/ Part Shade
Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria Full Sun/ Part Shade
Anise Shrub Illicium species Part Shade
Winter Jasmine Jasminum nudiflorum Full Sun/ Part Shade
Kerria Kerria japonica Full to Part Shade
Loropetalum Loropetalum chinense Full Sun/ Part Shade
Wax Myrtle Myrica cerifera Full Sun/ Part Shade
Nandina Nandina domestica Full Sun/ Part Shade
Oleander Nerium oleander Full Sun/ Part Shade

Common NamesBotanical NamesLight Requirements
Crossvine Bignonia capreolata Full Sun/Part Shade
Carolina Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens Full Sun
Confederate Jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides Full Sun/Part Shade

Common NamesBotanical NamesLight Requirements
Yarrow Achillea species Full Sun/Part Shade
Southern Maidenhair Fern Adiantum capillus-veneris Full to Part Shade
Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Full Sun/Part Shade
Columbine Aquilegia species Part Shade
Artemisia Artemisia x ‘Powis Castle’ Full Sun
Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa Full Sun
Cast Iron Plant Aspidistra elatior Full Shade
Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina Full to Part Shade
Japanese Painted Fern Athyrium nipponicum var. pictum Full to Part Shade
False Indigo Baptisia species Full Sun
Coreopsis Coreopsis species Full Sun/Part Shade
Green and Gold Chrysogonum virginianum Part Shade
Holly Fern Cyrtomium falcatum Full to Part Shade
Autumn Fern Dryopteris erythrosora Full to Part Shade
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Full Sun
Joe Pye Weed Eutrochium species Full Sun/Part Shade
Blanketflower Gaillardia x grandiflora Full Sun
Lenten Rose Helleborus x hybridus Full to Part Shade
Coralbells Heuchera species Part Shade
Bee Balm Monarda didyma Full to Part Sun
Mondo Grass Ophiopogon japonicus Full to Part Shade
Cinnamon Fern Osmunda cinnamomea Full to Part Shade
Royal Fern Osmunda regalis Full to Part Shade
Russian Sage Perovskia hybrids Full Sun
Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides Full to Part Shade
Lungwort Pulmonaria species Full to Part Shade
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Full Sun/ Part Shade
Anise Sage Salvia guaranitica Full Sun
Texas Sage Salvia greggii Full Sun/ Part Shade
Goldenrod Solidago species Full Sun
Lambs Ear Stachys byzantina Full Sun

Common NamesBotanical NamesLight Requirements
Annual Vinca Catharanthus roseus Full Sun
Cleome Cleome hassleriana Full Sun
Coleus Plectranthus species (some sun tolerant coleus varieties available Part Shade
Cosmos Cosmos bipinnatus Full Sun
Dusty Miller Senecio cineraria Full Sun
Marigold Tagetes species Full Sun
Mealycup Sage Salvia farinacea Full Sun
Gold Medallion Melampodium divaricatum Full Sun
Pentas Pentas lanceolata Full Sun
Petunia Petunia species Full Sun
Purple Heart Tradescantia ‘Purple Heart’ Full Sun/Part Shad
Wax Begonia Begonia semperflorens Part Shade
Zinnia Zinnia species Full Sun

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.