Preventing deer from dining on precious plants

Deer like this one are abundant in Minnesota.

Life in Minnesota wouldn’t be the same without the presence of deer. 

With spring finally here, people are itching to get out into their winter-worn lawns and gardens. But plants, flowers and shrubs in your yard or garden can be a buffet for deer to feast upon. 

Deer will eat just about anything if they are hungry enough. Some years they may eat or sample something they have never bothered in prior years. Keeping your yard deer-proof can be as simple as the plants, flowers and shrubs in your yard. 

However, there are some flowers and plants that are not their favorites. These are referred to as “deer- resistant” plants. 


Here is a list of some deer-resistant plants:

• Yarrow 18”-3’ Drought tolerant; prefers full sun – Achillea.

• Ageratum 6-24” Beautiful blue, pink or white flowers; easy to grow – Ageratum houstonianum.

• Ornamental onion 1-4’ Many forms and species; tough and may self-seed – Allium.

• Columbine 1-3’ Short-lived, but self-seeds; showy flowers – Aquilegia canadensis.

• Begonia 8-2’ Dependable flowers; shade and drought tolerant – Begonia semperflorens.

• Coneflower 2-3’ Native; attracts birds and butterflies; well-drained soil – Echinacea purpurea.

• Heliotrope 18-24” Cherry-pie fragrance; tough, long-lasting flowers – Heliotropium arborescens.

• Sweet alyssum 4-12” Edging and container plant; self-seeds – Lobularia maritima.

• Daffodil 6-24” Poisonous to squirrels and deer; can be planted under trees – Narcissus spp.

• Peony 2-3’ Long-lasting perennial; may need staking; prefers full sun – Paeonia lactiflora.

• Poppy 1-3’ Showy flowers; can self-seed; many species and cultivars – Papaver.

• Geranium 12-18” Cemetery plant; tough and drought-resistant – Pelargonium xhortorum.

• Russian sage 3-4’ Drought tolerant; prefers full sun – Perovskia atriplicifolia.

• Blue salvia 24-30” Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds – Salvia farinacea.

• Dusty miller 6-15” Silver-grey or white foliage; drought and cold tolerant – Senercio Cineraria.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners, young, tender plants, new growth and flower buds are generally more appealing to deer than the older, tougher parts of a

plant, or flowers that have opened completely. Deer prefer plants with lush foliage and high water content, such as hosta and early spring plants like tulips, crocuses and forsythia. Also, deer prefer fruiting and berry producing plants.

Deer are less attracted to herbs and strongly scented or flavored plants and plants with fuzzy or hairy stems and leaves. They are also less attracted to prickly plants, ferns and grasses.

For a list of more deer resistant flowers and plants, go to


Editor Noelle Olson can be reached by emailing or calling 651-407-1229.

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