Shield your cottage garden’s splendor with these deer-resistant flowers that will keep Bambi and his buddies at bay.

Are you wondering what flowers deer do not eat? Does deer damage keep you from growing a gorgeous flower garden?

If you live in deer country like me, I feel your pain. It is so hard to garden around them, isn’t it? Between expensive fencing, repellents, and gadgets, what is a gardener to do?

But all is not lost.

There are a variety of tactics to employ to keep deer from eating garden plants. One of the easiest ways to keep deer from snacking on the garden is to choose plants deer won’t eat.

And surprisingly, there are a lot of them! If you are looking for flowers deer won’t eat, I got you! Wait until you see how many cottage garden flowers you can grow that deer tend to avoid.

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Growing Plants for the Cottage Garden That Deer Avoid

Cottage gardens are known for their charm, whimsy, and a profusion of beautiful flowers. But if you live in an area where deer frequently visit your garden, maintaining that beauty can be a challenge.

Deer are notorious for nibbling on tender blooms, leaving your cottage garden looking less enchanting than you’d like.

The good news is that many deer resistant flowers can thrive in your cottage garden without becoming a snack for these gentle yet pesky creatures.

So today, I’m sharing 33 stunning deer resistant plants that will not only add beauty but also help you maintain your cottage garden’s allure.

Whether you’ve got shade or sun, there are lots of flowers deer won’t eat.

And the best part?

They are mostly low-maintenance deer-resistant plants too. But first, let’s chat about ways you can grow a deer proof garden while answering a few FAQs.

Angelonia in the cottage garden with hydrangeas
Angelonia

What Deters Deer From Eating Your Garden

Gardeners from all skill levels have lots of opinions on this topic. From soaps like Irish Spring to scattering human hair and pet fur, I’m not sold on their effective level.

That said, deer do have a heightened sense of smell and certain types of odors keep them away including:

  • marigold
  • mint
  • wolf urine
  • garlic
  • rosemary
  • lavender
  • putrescent egg solids
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • sage
close up of nepeta walkers low flowers
Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Deer Away from Garden Plants?

I’ve been asked this a few times recently and I’ve not heard of this one before.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that coffee grounds are effective at keeping deer away from plants. While some people believe that the strong scent of coffee grounds may deter deer, there is no research to support this claim.

Therefore I don’t recommend relying on coffee grinds in the garden to keep deer out of the garden.

You are better off learning what flowers deer do not eat, and planting those instead!

close up of bearded iris
Bearded Iris

What is the Best Deer Repellent?

Now deer repellents I DO have an opinion on because I have used so many different types and have a favorite.

My new favorite deer repellent is a systemic repellent. Meaning, the plant takes it in and helps repel deer and other critters from eating it.

I was using THIS ALL THE TIME and will still use it but differently as I’ve now found one that is systemic. I was using this repellent for several years now with great success but it only deters deer and the systemic one repels others.

And I used it for so many years because it works, does not smell as bad as the others, AND does not get clogged. I don’t know about you, but that drives me nuts.

So this repellent has been my go-to.

The systemic repellent clogs, so either you’ll be cleaning the nozzle after each use. Or you’ll want to spray it on as many plants as you can to use it up.

close up of nepeta 'cat's meow' and salvia 'May night' in front porch garden
Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ (catmint) and Salvia ‘May Night’

And for extra protection, I started using a new deer-repellent strategy that is extremely effective using THIS additional repellent.

Using Deer Repellent Effectively

Whatever spray repellent you ultimately decide to use, keep in mind it must be applied consistently and started when your garden plants break ground in early spring.

Deer are creatures of habit that walk along the same trail. Once they learn they don’t like what your garden offers, they will find another path.

But never let your guard down because once you get complacent with the spray repellents, they will find those plants and flowers and eat them to the ground.

I shared a whole video on this topic too. Watch it HERE.

close up of pink peonies that are cottage garden flowers deer tend to avoid

Planting Smart in the Cottage Garden with Deer Resistant Flowers

While there are lots of strategies and repellents that gardeners can employ to protect their gardens from deer damage, one of the best ways to avoid deer damage is to plant smart. So it’s important to do your research before purchasing plants from the garden nursery.

Now that research will take all of about 5 minutes to do. But trust me, it’s worth taking the time to do it if you want to keep deer from eating your garden plants.

And Rutgers Cooperative Extension created a list of plants rated by deer resistance that is like my bible before I purchase plants at the nursery.

Siberian Iris close up - Gardening for Hummingbirds
Siberian Iris

I refer to their list ALL THE TIME. It is invaluable for a gardener who wants to keep deer from devouring garden plants and flowers. In case you forget your list or don’t have it on you while you are shopping, keep these tips in mind.

Deer typically stay away from prickly, heavily scented flowers, trees, and shrubs. So look for plants with these types of characteristics.

And when you review the following list of flowers deer won’t eat, you’ll understand better the types of plants they avoid.

close up of allium globemaster in the garden -Top 5 Spring Garden Supplies
Alliums

33 Deer Resistant Plants for the Cottage Garden

The deer resistant flowers listed below are in no particular order but are on the rarely damaged list of perennials, bulbs, and annuals listed by Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

While this is not an exhaustive list, I have planted most of these in my own cottage garden for constant blooms throughout the growing season.

From deer resistant annual flowers, deer resistant perennials, and even deer resistant shade perennials, here are some of my favorites to grow.

1. Nepeta

Nepeta is a deer resistant plant. Catmint, known for its aromatic leaves, emits a scent that cats adore but deer avoid. Its pungent aroma and slightly fuzzy texture make it an unattractive snack for deer.

close up of nepeta 'walkers low' - catmint are great flowers for deadheading when the blooms fade
Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’

2. Agastache

Agastache is a beautiful deer resistant flower that attracts lots of pollinators to your garden. A native plant, agastache’s spiky, aromatic blooms are a double deterrent for deer. Their strong fragrance and unusual texture discourage grazing.

agastache close up
Agastache

3. Alliums

Alliums are a beautiful deer resistant flower that deer prefer not to eat. Why? Alliums, with their pungent onion-like scent, are less appealing to deer. Their tall stems and globe-shaped blooms provide both visual and olfactory protection.

alliums and knock out roses on the happy gardening tour
Alliums with Knockout Roses
serendipity alliums
Serendipity Alliums

4. Forget Me Nots

Myostotis has charming blue flowers that contain alkaloids that render them unappetizing to deer. The delicate appearance of forget-me-nots belies their deer-resistant nature. So if you are looking for a pretty early spring blooming flower for a deer-resistant garden, forget me nots are a great option.

forget me nots - myostotis
Forget-Me-Nots

5. Daffodils

Deer prefer not to eat daffodils (narcissus) because they boast toxic compounds in their bulbs and foliage that deter them. We get herds of deer in my gardens, I don’t use any sort of repellent on these, and the deer do not touch them.

So their bright and cheery blooms are safe from grazing.

Close up of daffodils in a garden that  - I cut some for afor a centerpiece idea
Daffodils

6. Bleeding Hearts

Deer prefer not to eat bleeding hearts because the toxic compounds in dicentra’s foliage and roots keep deer from nibbling. The heart-shaped blooms may be romantic, but they are a beautiful spring flowering deer-resistant plant.

close up of dicentra bleeding hearts
Dicentra Bleeding Hearts

7. Salvia

Salvia’s aromatic leaves and tall spikes of colorful flowers deter deer making them a great deer resistant flower for your garden. The strong scent and unique shape make them less appealing to browsing deer. Plant salvia for spring to summer blooms. I’ve been growing salvia for almost my entire gardening life which is over 25 years and the deer have never touched my salvia plants.

salvia midnight closeup
MIdnight Salvia

8. Lavender

Lavender is renowned for its fragrant blooms, lavender’s strong scent masks other attractive scents and repels deer. Its drought-tolerant nature adds to its deer-resistant qualities. Plant lavender for spring to summer flowers. I’ve been growing it for several years in my cottage gardens where we get herds of deer and they’ve never touched them.

close up of lavender flowers
Lavender flowers

9. Iris

Irises feature toxic compounds that make them unpalatable to deer. Their elegant blooms are safe from browsing. I have grown lots of bearded irises all over my property both here and in my former garden and the deer never touched them.

angel's rest with dream of you bearded irises in garden

10. Lamb’s Ear

Deer prefer not to eat lamb’s ear so it is a great option to lighten up certain areas of your garden with its beautiful foliage. The soft, silver-gray leaves of lamb’s ear aren’t a delicacy for deer. Their fuzzy texture and slightly pungent aroma discourage grazing.

lamb's ear
Lamb’s Ear

11. Peonies

Peonies are deer resistant flowers that are a beautiful aromatic addition to your flower garden. Peonies have lush, fragrant blooms with waxy petals that deer find unappetizing. Their showy flowers remain untouched by deer. Because peonies don’t bloom for long in the garden, plant several different varieties to extend flowering time.

light pink peonies
Sara Bernhart Peonies

12. Russian Sage

Russian Sage is a beautiful summer-blooming deer-resistant flower that looks light and airy in the garden. The aromatic silvery leaves of Russian sage emit a scent that repels deer. Their strong vertical growth and feathery flowers are unattractive to these herbivores making russian sage deer resistant.

I’ve got tons of it planted in my formal garden where we get herds of deer. I do nothing with these gorgeous flowering perennials and the deer completely leave them alone.

close up of russian sage
Russian Sage

13. Globe Thistle

With spiky, thistle-like globes and rough-textured leaves, globe thistles create a formidable defense against deer. The prickly appearance and sharp spikes deter deer from feeding. I used to have lots of it planted in my former garden where deer frequently browsed. I never protected it or used repellents on it and the deer completely left it alone.

Close up of echinops with echinacea and rose flowers in a cottage garden -dividing perennials - echinops, echinacea and monarda
Globe Thistle with Echinacea

14. Statice

Statice offers little nutritional value to deer, and its papery blooms add charm to your garden. The unique, dried-flower appeal and slightly salty taste discourage grazing.

15. Silvermound

The soft, silvery, finely textured leaves of silvermound aren’t appealing to deer. Their compact, ground-hugging growth also makes them less accessible for grazing.

16. Oregano

Oregano’s aromatic leaves contain oils that deer find repellent. Its pungent scent and slightly spicy flavor discourage deer browsing.

oregano with at last roses in the potager garden
Oregano with At Last Roses

17. False Indigo (Baptisia)

The tall, slender spikes of false indigo aren’t a deer’s first choice. Their coarse, textured foliage and distinctive structure deter deer.

close up of baptisia flowers by the porch
Baptisia

18. Ligularia

Ligularia’s bold, serrated leaves and towering flower spikes don’t make for a tasty meal for deer. Their robust growth and unique appearance are less inviting to browsing.

close up of ligularia with gomphrena in the front porch garden
Ligularia

19. Lenten Rose (Hellebores)

Early-blooming lenten roses offer elegant, downward-facing flowers that deer tend to avoid. Their tough, evergreen foliage and low-growing habit make them less attractive to grazing deer.

pink lenten rose hellebore in front of green fence in backyard garden
Lenten rose in my backyard garden.

20. Marigold

Do deer eat marigolds? Nope! Marigolds’ vibrant colors and strong scent act as a natural deer repellent. The pungent aroma and bitter-tasting leaves deter deer from feeding.

yellow and orange marigolds
Marigolds

21. Strawflower

Strawflowers are deer-resistant due to their papery blooms. The dry, straw-like texture of their petals lacks the succulence that typically attracts deer, keeping these charming flowers untouched.

strawflowers in the potager garden
Strawflowers

22. Flowering Tobacco

Fragrant and fabulous, flowering tobacco’s strong scent masks other attractive scents in your garden and deters deer. Additionally, the texture and flavor of their leaves make them unappetizing to browsing deer.

23. Larkspur

Larkspur’s tall spikes of colorful flowers stand like a “keep off” sign for deer. The presence of alkaloids in larkspur is unappealing to these herbivores, ensuring that your garden remains undisturbed.

close up of larkspur in the potager garden - pink pruple and white flowers
Larkspur

24. Snapdragon

Do deer eat snapdragons? The answer is no!

Vibrant snapdragon blossoms not only attract pollinators but also repel deer. Their bitter-tasting leaves and distinctive shape of the flowers make them less appealing.

So snapdragons are deer resistant.

snapdragon bouquet with view of front porch garden and gomphrena truffala pink

25. Spider Flower (Cleome)

The exotic appearance of spider flowers, with long, spiky petals and an unusual shape, isn’t enticing to deer. Their distinctive look and texture deter grazing, allowing these unique blooms to flourish.

close up of cleome in the cottage garden in fall
Cleome

26. Poppy

Do deer eat poppy flowers? Thank goodness that one is a no too because poppies are the prettiest flowers, aren’t they?

Their delicate blooms have a bitter taste that acts as a natural deterrent for these garden intruders.

poppies and nepeta
Poppies and nepeta

27. Rosemary

Do deer eat rosemary? Nope!

Rosemary’s aromatic leaves contain oils that repel deer with their strong scent. The woody texture and robust growth of rosemary plants make them less attractive to browsing deer, ensuring that this flavorful herb remains undisturbed in your garden.

28. Foxgloves

Foxgloves are known for their tall spikes of tubular flowers that come in various shades. These stunning blooms contain toxic compounds like digitalis, which can be harmful to deer if ingested.

This natural deterrent, along with their height and upright growth habit, makes foxgloves deer resistant.

close up of foxglove digitalis flowers
Foxglove Digitalis Mix

29. Brunnera

Also known as Siberian Bugloss, Brunnera is a shade-loving perennial with heart-shaped leaves and delicate blue flowers that resemble forget-me-nots.

Deer typically steer clear of Brunnera due to its fuzzy and somewhat coarse foliage, which doesn’t make for a desirable meal.

close up of brunnera flowers with variegated foliage
Brunnera

30. Astilbe

Are astilbe deer resistant? Yup another great flowering perennial for shade, the astilbe’s feathery, plume-like blooms add a touch of elegance to shaded areas of your garden.

These plants are deer-resistant because of their bitter-tasting leaves and the fact that they contain saponins, compounds that deter herbivores.

Astilbes’ tall flower spikes and lush foliage create a protective barrier against deer grazing.

close up of astilbe in the pool garden

31. Butterfly Weed

As the name suggests, Butterfly Weed is a favorite among pollinators, especially butterflies, but it’s not on the menu for deer. This native wildflower contains toxic compounds called cardiac glycosides that are unpalatable and potentially harmful to deer if ingested.

Its vibrant orange or yellow flowers and drought-tolerant nature make it a beautiful and deer-resistant addition to your garden.

Butterfly Weed not only adds color but also attracts beneficial insects, making it a win-win for your cottage garden.

Butterfly weed and catmint in my jersey garden

32. Butterfly Bush

The Butterfly Bush, scientifically known as Buddleia, is a magnet for butterflies and other pollinators, earning its name for the enchanting fluttering creatures it attracts. Fortunately, this plant is also quite unattractive to deer.

The strong fragrance of the Butterfly Bush’s blooms, coupled with its rough-textured leaves, acts as a natural deterrent.

This shrub’s stunning, elongated flower clusters come in various colors, making it an eye-catching addition to your cottage garden that remains untouched by deer while providing a feast for butterflies and other beneficial insects.

summer garden deer resistant flowers with butterfly bush and caryopteris

33. Caryopteris

Caryopteris, also known as Bluebeard or Blue Mist Spirea, is a delightful addition to deer-resistant gardens. And it’s one of the prettiest deer proof shrubs.

I just love the aromatic foliage and clusters of small, blue, or lavender flowers that make it a popular choice among gardeners looking to attract pollinators while keeping deer at bay.

Caryopteris contains compounds like volatile oils that produce a strong fragrance that deer tend to avoid.

This shrub’s low-growing habit and abundant blooms provide both visual appeal and a natural defense against deer browsing, making it a valuable asset to your cottage garden.

moonbeam coreopsis, butterfly weed and nepeta in cottage garden near a paver walkway - early summer Jersey garden tour
Moonbeam coreopsis, butterfly weed, and nepeta ‘walker’s low’ in my front yard cottage garden.

What Not to Plant If Deer Are a Problem

If you get herds of deer on your property and you don’t want to manage it there are a several plants you should avoid using in your garden so you don’t wake up to them completely destroyed.

Here is a common list of what deer LOVE to eat in flower gardens.

Spring Flowers like lenten rose, virginia bluebells and bleeding hearts in the Zen Garden that are deer resistant shade tolerant flowers

Conclusion

So there you have it, 33 deer resistant flowers to transform your flower garden into a wildlife haven without becoming a deer’s salad bar.

Can you believe how many flowers deer won’t eat?

And speaking of this list, when I started my new cottage garden here at the house, I planted several cottage garden flowers and plants deer won’t eat.

So far, my flowers are intact with no deer damage. Rabbit damage though?

Well, that’s a whole different post.

Ugh.

close up of front porch with baptisia (false indigo) blooming near the porch rockers that is a deer resistant plant.
Baptisia (false indigo) in my front porch garden

More About Flowering Plants That Repel Deer

What are your favorite deer resistant flowers in the garden? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

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close up of snapdragons, supertunias and celosia
Snapdragons, Supertunia Fuschia and Coleus

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. Here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

Click here to shop my list of favorite garden supplies that I use regularly spring through fall.

And if you need garden tools? Here are my top 10 garden tools that every gardener needs.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!

Stacy Ling with her book the bricks n blooms guide to a beauitful and easy care flower garden

If you’ve always dreamed of bringing country charm to your home while creating a beautiful, relaxing space, I got you! Learn how to grow flowers in even the smallest of spaces with my easy-care, low-maintenance approach.

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

view of the front porch cottage garden with sugar pumpkins, sedum autumn joy, rudbeckia, celosia and snapdragons

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deer resistant flowers for a cottage garden that thrives: snapdragons, larkspur, and strawflowers
deer resistant flowers that include snapdragons and larkspur for the cottage garden

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Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

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close up of foxglove digitalis that is a cottage garden flower that deer tend to avoid eating
sunset in the fall cottage garden with pumpkins, lantana, celosia and a view of my gardening zone 6a new jersey gardens
pink bleeding heart
purple nepeta
close up of backyard cottage garden in front of garden shed with wood picket fence and orange daylillies -Garden shed in my jersey garden
yellow daffodils
close up of double flowering daffodils
Double flowering daffodils that I planted in fall.

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13 Comments

  1. Pingback: Weekly Rambles - Lora B. Create & Ponder
  2. I love this! You are speaking my love language! I have over half of these planted. Looking to add more from your list. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! It’s so much easier to deal with them when you plant stuff they don’t like! I still love my hostas but the less spraying I need to do the better! xo

  3. Hi Stacy, This Cedar Grove N.J. lady thanks you so very much! After many years of wasted time and money trying to establish a beautiful garden and flowering landscapes, I kind of gave up but you have inspired me to soldier on! I’m waiting for Deer Scram to arrive tomorrow and cannot wait to use it. I love the list you provided today and will be purchasing some of those soon. I also want to say that there is one more that I think you missed unless it was by another name, but for color all summer, I plant vinca, not the vine, the flower, the deer don’t touch it! I hope you and others will try it! Thanks again for amazing and helpful posts!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that Dianne! I found using both of those were very effective. I still stand by deer out on its own but if you want the extra protection using both worked best. I used to live near Cedar Grove as I hail from Livingston, NJ. Yes, I’ve heard of vinca and it is a wonderful blooming plant! In fact, I have some here! xo