What can I plant that might help repel deer?

We get this question a lot. They may be cute, but when they’re munching on the prized roses in your yard, deer can be a huge nuisance. The good news is that there are simple and natural things you can do that will send them elsewhere for snacks. But first, some background:

Why are deer attracted to my yard?

Two reasons: food and water. A single adult deer can eat up to 2,000 pounds of plant matter each year. That’s a lot of lettuce, strawberries and sunflowers. Along with food, they need to drink water. In your yard, that could take the form of bird baths, water features, kiddie pools and ponds.

Are there specific types of plants deer like to eat?

Yes. Just like you have your favorite foods, so to do deer. Most edible plants — including lettuce, beans, clover, berries and peas — are on the menu for deer. There are also certain flowers they will eat, including roses, geraniums, pansies, Hosta and sunflowers. Plus a handful of shrubs and trees, such as juniper, hawthorn, flowering dogwood and rhododendrons, plus fruit trees.

Knowing this, if deer are a problem in your area, that doesn’t mean you need to ditch these plants altogether. It means you need to place them closer to your house while surrounding them with a perimeter of plants they don’t like.

15 types of plants that can help repel deer

Now for the million-dollar question — what can I plant around the perimeter of my yard to keep deer at bay? Here are a few of the most common:

  1. Acanthus - Known for long spikes and dark green foliage, acanthus also have something deer really dislike — sharp spines on the stems of the foliage. Other plants in with this not-so-secret weapon include barberry and globe thistle.
  2. Barrenwort - Highly deer resistant and easy to grow perennial, with low-growing soft pink flowers in the spring. Works great along fences or near water features.
  3. Bee Balm - A favorite for pollinators, but deer hate the strong smell. And bonus, mosquitos hate it too! Prefers full sun and grows up to 4’ tall.
  4. Bleeding Heart - With its heart-shaped flowers, this gorgeous perennial might look like an appealing menu item for deer, yet it’s quite the opposite. Grows best in partial shade.
  5. Chives - They’re great on baked potatoes (and countless other dishes) and one of the best deer deterrents you can plant thanks to their smell. But that’s just the beginning! Chives also turn away aphids and certain types of beetles. Other kitchen-staple plants that repel deer include dill, fennel, leeks, mint and onions.
  6. Daffodils - This hardy, low maintenance flower, grown from bulbs planted in the fall, add color and greenery to your early spring landscape. They contain an alkaloid called lycorine that’s toxic to deer — which keeps them away.
  7. Iris - This perennial that grows from a bulb comes in a rainbow of colors and grows anywhere between 1’ to 3’ tall. Beautiful for your yard, a real deterrent for deer.
  8. Lamb’s Ear - Deer may not like the soft, wooly leaves and spikes of pink or purple flowers on this perennial, but bees and hummingbirds will happily feast on the nectar. Lamb’s ear like full sun to partial shade with well-drained, not-too-moist soil.
  9. Marigolds - Marigolds are a must-have in your pest-control tool kit. They’re known helping get rid of harmful nematodes when planted in between crops like cucumbers and strawberries. They’re low maintenance and can handle intense heat and less-than-ideal soil. And yes, they help repel deer too.
  10. Oregano - Great for pasta night, this easy-to-grow herb will help keep the deer at bay. Works great as a container plant or spreading ground cover.
  11. Oriental Poppies - These bright and cheerful flowers make a lovely addition to any garden space. But just like daffodils, these poppies contain alkaloids that keep deer away.
  12. Peonies - It’s not the gorgeous, show-stopping blooms that deter deer from this perennial. It’s the thick, fibrous leaves. Plants like this with thick foliage — including lavender and flowering plants in the boxwood family — act as a deer repellent.
  13. Rosemary - Even hungry deer stay away from the wonderful (to us — especially chefs) aroma of this popular herb.
  14. Russian Sage - This is another two-for-one plant that attracts bees and hummingbirds while the fragrance of the flowers turns deer away. The dusty, grayish color is another thing deer don’t like. Works well in dry environments and the clusters of bluish-purple blooms cover spikes that reach up to 4’ tall.
  15. Yarrow - This perennial wildflower, available in a variety of colors, has a feathery foliage and bitter taste that repels deer.

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