Does deer damage keep you from growing a gorgeous flower garden? Here are 33 deer resistant flowers for the cottage garden you can grow.
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 plant flowers they prefer not to eat.
And surprisingly, there are a lot of them! If you are looking for plants that deer don’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 there are many deer resistant flowers that can thrive in your cottage garden without becoming a snack for these gentle yet pesky creatures.
In this blog post, 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.
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:
- wolf urine
- putrescent egg solids
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!
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.
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.
Planting Smart in the Cottage Garden
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.
To plant smart, 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.
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 this 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 see this list of flowers, you’ll understand better the types of plants they prefer not to eat.
33 Deer Resistant Plants for the Cottage Garden
These plants are listed 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 annuals, deer resistant perennials, and even deer resistant shade plants, here are some of my favorites to grow.
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.
Agastache’s spiky, aromatic blooms are a double deterrent for deer. Their strong fragrance and unusual texture discourage grazing.
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.
These charming blue flowers contain alkaloids that render them unappetizing to deer. The delicate appearance of forget-me-nots belies their deer-resistant nature.
Daffodils boast toxic compounds in their bulbs and foliage that deter deer. 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.
The toxic compounds in bleeding hearts’ foliage and roots keep deer from nibbling. The heart-shaped blooms may be romantic, but they are deer-resistant.
Salvia’s aromatic leaves and tall spikes of colorful flowers deter deer. The strong scent and unique shape make them less appealing to browsing deer.
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.
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.
The soft, silver-gray leaves of lamb’s ear aren’t a delicacy for deer. Their fuzzy texture and slightly pungent aroma discourage grazing.
Peonies have lush, fragrant blooms with waxy petals that deer find unappetizing. Their showy flowers remain untouched by deer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oregano’s aromatic leaves contain oils that deer find repellent. Its pungent scent and slightly spicy flavor discourage deer browsing.
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.
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.
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.
Marigolds’ vibrant colors and strong scent act as a natural deer repellent. The pungent aroma and bitter-tasting leaves deter deer from feeding.
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.
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.
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.
Vibrant snapdragon blossoms not only attract pollinators but also repel deer. Their bitter-tasting leaves and the distinctive shape of the flowers make them less appealing to browsing deer.
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.
Poppies’ vivid, delicate blooms are safe from deer munching. The presence of latex sap in poppies makes them bitter and acts as a natural deterrent for these garden intruders.
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.
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, helps protect foxgloves from deer browsing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Caryopteris, also known as Bluebeard or Blue Mist Spirea, is a delightful addition to deer-resistant gardens.
Its aromatic foliage and clusters of small, blue, or lavender flowers 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.
So there you have it, 33 deer-resistant beauties 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 new 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.
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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Garden Supplies I Use
I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.
- I like to use a good-quality, potting soil, garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use it to get underneath roots, and loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I like to use THIS ORGANIC FERTILIZER for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- I use these garden snips to deadhead and cut flowers from my gardens.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, if I need to, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue. When using, only apply when pollinators are less active.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
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.
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.
- 5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden
- Easy-Care Cottage Garden Ideas
- Flower Garden Ideas for the Front Porch
- Why and How to Divide Perennials
- Perennials vs Annuals
- Flowers that Bloom in Midsummer
- How My Cottage Garden Grew in 2021
- Cut Flower Gardening for Beginners
- The Complete Guide to Roses Care
- The Basics of Hydrangea Care
- Everblooming Cottage Garden Design Ideas
- The Secret to Growing an Everblooming Cottage Garden
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