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15 Types of Flowers That Deer Won’t Eat

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Having wildlife in your backyard truly is something special. But sometimes, wildlife in your backyard can also be cause for some annoyance- especially when they begin to eat the plants in your garden. In many parts of the United States, deer are the main culprit in the nibbling of garden plants. In this article, we will suggest a number of flowers that deer won’t eat.

15 Flowers that deer won’t eat

It’s important to remember that there is no guarantee that all deer will avoid these flowers all the time, but the plants on this list are generally safe from deer in your yard. However, a hungry deer with few options may be tempted to go after these flowers, no matter how unappealing they may be. Here they are.

1. Lavender

Lavender flowers
Lavender flowers

While most people love the smell of lavender, deer do not! Lavender has a very strong scent that is generally too strong and off putting for deer.

Lavender flowers are a lovely way to bring some light shades of purple to your garden, not to mention their calming scent. These flowers grow well in gardens with full sun and well-draining, loose soil.

2. Poppy

Poppy flowers
Poppy flowers | image by Susanne Nilsson via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Poppies come in many different colors and shades that brighten up any garden. Red poppies are used as a symbol of remembrance for soldiers that served in World War I.

However, for deer, poppies are something to steer clear of due to their toxicity. Poppies do best in full sun and in gardens with well-drained soil.

3. Daffodil

Daffodils
Daffodils

Daffodils, coming in white or yellow, produce a somewhat thick sap when their stems are cut or broken that is not appetizing for deer. Not only do daffodils dissuade deer from eating your garden, but rabbits and squirrels also tend to avoid these cheerful flowers. Daffodils grow well in most gardens so long as they are not in full-shade and are planted in moist soil.

4. Bee Balm

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Bee balm flowers give off a strong, spiceful aroma that give off hints of oregano and mint. They are amazing for attracting pollinators like hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, hence the name, but their strong smell tends to keep deer away. Bee balm grows best in full sun and in nutrient rich, moist soil.

5. Peony

Peony flowers in pot
Peony flowers in pot | image by llee_wu via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Peonies are absolutely stunning flowers with their dense petals and large blooms. Peonies are edible to humans and are often used to flavor drinks or jams.

However, they are not edible for deer. Not only that, but their scent is strong and sweet, which keeps deer away. Peonies can do well in full sun or in partial shade in well-drained soil.

6. Marigold

Marigold
Marigolds

Marigolds are great flowers for bringing some sunshine to your garden. They are great for novice and experienced gardeners that want to plant flowers that are relatively hardy and low maintenance.

These bright yellow and orange flowers are great for attracting pollinators but their strong scent can keep deer away. Marigolds do best in full sun and well-drained, loamy soil.

7. Lilac

Lilac flowers on sunny day
Lilac flowers on sunny day | image by Raita Futo via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Lilacs are known for their large, purple and pink blooms. They are small shrubs that produce large bundles of fragrant blooms.

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Their light and airy fragrance, while appealing to most people, is a deterrent for most deer. However, be warned that if you have persistent squirrels in your yard, they love to eat parts of lilac bushes. Lilacs thrive in full sun and well-drained soil.

8. Foxglove

Foxglove flowers
Foxglove flowers | image by Andrew Coombes via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Foxgloves stand tall and are adorned with small, tubular blossoms that come in a variety of colors. Foxgloves are toxic to deer and other animals, so you don’t have to worry about visitors in your garden going after them.

However, they are also toxic to pets and people, so they might not be the best choice for those with pets that are left alone in the garden or small children that like to put things in their mouths! Foxgloves grow well in mostly sunny conditions and moist, well-drained soil.

9. Zinnia

Zinnia flowers in the garden
Zinnia flowers in the garden | image by Selena N. B. H. via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Zinnias have beautiful bright flowers that come in shades of pink, yellow, orange and white. They are great for attracting pollinators to your garden such as butterflies and hummingbirds and also great for deterring deer. Zinnias grow best in a garden with full sun and well-drained, nutrient rich soil.

10. Black eyed susan

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Black eyed susans are vibrant yellow flowers with a dark center, which is where they get their name. They are relatively deer resistant, but not because they are strongly scented or toxic.

These flowers have very rough stems and leaves that most deer prefer not to eat. Black eyed susans thrive in sunny gardens and are tolerant of dry soil.

11. Dahlia

Dahlia flowers
Dahlia flowers | image by Swallowtail Garden Seeds via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Dahlias are stunning flowers that produce vibrant and large blossoms that make an amazing addition to any bouquet. Their aroma is pungent and for us, quite pleasant, however deer do not seem to feel the same way.

For this reason, deer tend to avoid dahlias in gardens. These flowers can handle full sun, but in more temperate climates and in moist soil.

12. Snapdragon

Snapdragon flowers in pots
Snapdragon flowers in pots | image by Inga Munsinger Cotton via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Snapdragons are tall flowering plants that have colorful, intricate flowers. Their name actually comes from the fact that their flower resembles the face of a dragon.

Deer generally don’t eat snapdragons due to their strong fragrance. Snapdragons can handle both full sun and partial shade and grow well in moist, nutrient rich soil.

13. Iris

Wild Iris Flower
Wild Iris Flower

Irises are known for their purple flowers and unique petals. They are both fragrant and apparently unappetizing to deer, so they tend to be safe from hungry deer in most gardens. Irises are happiest in full sun and in loose soil.

14. Forget me not

Forget me not flowers
Forget me not flowers | image by David Prasad via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

These plants produce small, delicate flowers that come in pastel shades of purple and blue. They produce dense foliage amongst their blooms that deer tend to avoid.

Rabbits also tend to avoid these flowers. Unlike most of the flowers on this list, forget me nots grow best in shady conditions with moist soil.

15. Lupine

Lupine flowers in the field
Lupine flowers in the field | image by Dan Nevill via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Lupines are similar to foxgloves as they are taller plants with somewhat tubular or cone-like flowers. Most commonly, they come in shades of purple and blue and have thick, green foliage.

Once they are fully grown, lupines are generally fairly deer resistant. Lupines thrive in full sun and well-drained soil.

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About Samantha S.

Samantha is a wildlife biologist with a masters degree in environmental biology. Most of her work has been with reptiles, however she has also worked with birds and marine organisms as well. She enjoys hiking, snorkeling, and looking for wildlife.