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27 Deer Resistant Plants for the Cottage Garden

Does deer damage keep you from growing a gorgeous flower garden? Here are 27 deer-resistant plants for the cottage garden to grow this spring. (Post updated June 2022)

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 there are a lot of them!

Wait until you see how many cottage garden flowers you can grow that deer tend to avoid.

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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’
close up of bearded iris
Bearded Iris

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.

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

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.

THIS is what I use ALL THE TIME.

I’ve been using it for several years now with great success.

But why do I use this one when there are so many others on the market?

Because it 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 is my go-to.

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.

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 foxglove digitalis flowers
Foxglove Digitalis Mix
close up of pink peonies that are cottage garden flowers deer tend to avoid

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.

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

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.

close up of backyard cottage garden in front of garden shed with wood picket fence and orange daylillies -Garden shed in my jersey garden

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.

Here are some of my favorites to grow.

Siberian Iris close up - Gardening for Hummingbirds
Siberian Iris
close up of dicentra bleeding hearts
Dicentra Bleeding Hearts
Close up of daffodils in a garden that  - I cut some for afor a centerpiece idea
Daffodils

27 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.

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

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.

  1. nepeta (catmint)
  2. agastache
  3. alliums
  4. forget-me-nots
  5. daffodils
  6. bleeding hearts
  7. salvia
  8. lavender
  9. iris
  10. lamb’s ear
  11. peony
  12. russian sage
  13. globe thistle
  14. statice
  15. silvermound
  16. oregano
  17. false indigo
  18. ligularia
  19. lenten rose – hellebores
  20. marigold
  21. strawflower
  22. flowering tobacco
  23. larkspur
  24. snapdragon
  25. spider flower
  26. poppy
  27. rosemary
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.
pink lenten rose hellebore in front of green fence in backyard garden
Lenten rose in my backyard garden.

And speaking of this list, when I started my new cottage garden here at the new house, I planted several cottage garden flowers that deer prefer to leave alone.

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

Shop for Garden Supplies

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.

close up of double flowering daffodils
Double flowering daffodils that I planted in fall.

Looking for More Cottage Garden Ideas?

Here are more cottage garden tips, tricks, and inspiration.

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close up of foxglove digitalis that is a cottage garden flower that deer tend to avoid eating

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11 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