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Selecting Deer-Resistant Plants

Everyone loves seeing Bambi until they find their favorite plants have suddenly been devoured. Here in Chaffee County, deer can be an ever-present problem and there are a number of solutions to finding unwanted deer in the backyard, one of which is opting for more deer-resistant plants.

Deer browsing is usually indicated by jagged or torn places on plants. Deer tend to prefer to eat plants with soft growth and tender shoots. While there is no plant that is 100 percent deer resistant, you can choose options that will be less likely to be eaten.

When looking for plants that aren't as attractive to hungry deer, there are four main characteristics that deer tend to avoid:

  1. Plants with strong aromatic or herbal scents Plants with a strong aroma or flavor tend to be avoided by deer. For example, when you think of evergreens, junipers have a really strong herbal aroma, rather than plants with little or no aroma and a bland flavor.

  2. Plants with fuzzy or hairy leaves Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) is a good example of a fuzzy plant deer tend to not care for.

  3. Plants with a milky sap Euphorbia marginata, or Snow-On-The-Mountain, is one example.

  4. Plants that are thorny or have prickly leaves or stems An example is Acantholimon or Prickly thrift.

CSU Extension has a couple of great fact sheets that include lists of trees, shrubs, and flowers that tend to be more deer-resistant:


Total Landscape Care (2021, June 24). Selecting deer-resistant plants for your customer's landscape.

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