Top 5 Deer-Resistant Plants For The Northeast


If you live in a region where white-tailed deer are prevalent, consider plants and shrubs that deer are less likely to feed on. Deer tend to stay away from poisonous plants like foxgloves and monkshood. These common garden flowers are also very toxic to humans so I do not recommend planting them at all. Deer are deterred by fragrant plants with strong scents. Herbs such as sage, mint, lavender, and bearded irises are among those smelly plants that deer tend to avoid. Fuzzy or thorny plants tend to be avoided by deer as well. Fuzzy plants like lamb’s ear are off the menu and prickly ones such as roses and hollies. In the Northeast, the heaviest garden browsing occurs from October through February. Lastly, if deer are desperate for food they will eat just about anything that grows so be prepared for some damage.

1. Lavender, belongs to a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is native to Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and China. Many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates as ornamental plants for landscape use, for use as culinary herbs, and commercially for the extraction of essential oils. Deer dislike the heavy scent of lavender.


  • Scientific Name: Lavandula angustifolia
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
  • Height: 18 – 24 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

2. Junipers are coniferous plants that are members of the cypress family.  Junipers are among the most popular conifers to be cultivated as ornamentals for gardens. These cultivars have been selected and bred to produce a wide range of forms, and colors. Junipers have a very heavy odor that tends to repel deer with sensitive noses.


  • Scientific Name: Juniperus
  • USDA Zones: 4 to 11
  • Height: Up to 15 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade

3. Boxwoods are evergreen shrubs that can be used as hedges, as screening plants along borders and accents to your landscape.  Why are boxwoods deer resistant? It’s because the foliage contains aromatic alkaloids, so deer would rather forage on something tastier.


  • Scientific Name: Buxus sempervirens
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
  • Height: Up to 20 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade

4. Holly is often cultivated by plant nurseries for their use as an evergreen ornamental plant. It is planted as a shrub or as a slower growing ornamental tree with over 1,000 cultivars availableThe vast majority of holly species are highly deer-resistant.


  • Scientific Name: Ilex opaca
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
  • Height: 15 feet to 60 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade

5. Marigolds provide a wealth of color to your garden. These hardy annual plants will bloom reliably from early summer to the first frost in autumn. Depending on the variety you choose, marigolds are available in a range of gold, yellow and orange shades. Based on observation, deer at least seem to be put off by the strong smell of marigolds. Still, a border of marigolds or rows placed between plantings is sometimes enough to deter deer.


  • Scientific Name: Tagetes 
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
  • Height: 18 – 24″
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial Shade

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