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Deer Resistant Plants

Living With Deer

Damage to valuable landscape plants tends to increase along with the growing population of white‐tailed deer in rural and suburban areas of Massachusetts. By choosing plants less favored by deer, you might be able reduce some of the impact of browsing, but no plant will resist deer feeding under all conditions. Many variables such as the animals’ experience and health status, weather, and availability of more desirable foods will determine which plants deer choose to eat.

Plants Less Favored by Deer

Shrubs, deciduous Scientific name
Bayberry Myrica spp.
Beautybush Kolkwitzia amabilis
Bottlebrush Buckeye Aesculus parviflora
Common Boxwood Buxus sempervirens
Common Lilac Syringa vulgaris
Corkscrew Willow Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’
Forsythia Forsythia spp.
Mahonia Mahonia spp.
Red Osier Dogwood Cornus sericea
Redvein Enkianthus Enkianthus campanulatus
Snowball Viburnum Viburnum tomentosum
Witch Hazel Hamamelis spp.
Trees, deciduous Scientific name
American Sycamore Platinus spp.
Beech Fagus spp.
Birch Betula spp.
Catalpa Catalpa spp.
Common Sassafras Sassafras albidum
English Hawthorne Crataegus laevigata
Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida
Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos
Hop Hornbeam Ostrya virginiana
Japanese Flowering Cherry Prunus serrulata
Kousa Dogwood Cornus kousa
Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua

Protect New Trees + Shrubs

Protect newly planted woody plants with sturdy, wire mesh barriers. If deer pressure is heavy,  leave barriers in place until plants are well established and able to tolerate some browsing. In late winter and early spring, if deer are hungry they will feed readily, with little discrimination, on young trees and shrubs.

Trees and Shrubs, evergreen Scientific name
Chinese Juniper Juniperus chinensis
Drooping Leucothoe Leucothoe fontanesiana
False Cypress Chamaecyparis spp.
Holly, American Ilex opaca
Inkberry Ilex glabra
Japanese Pieris Pieris japonica
Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia
Pine, Austrian Pinus nigra
Pine, Mugo Pinus mugo
Pine, Pitch Pinus rigida
Pine, Red Pinus resinosa
Pine, Scots Pinus sylvestris
Spruce, Colorado Blue Picea pungens glauca
Spruce, Norway Picea abies
Spruce, White Picea glauca
Vines Scientific name
Climbing Hydrangea Hydrangea anomala petiolaris
Japanese Wisteria Wisteria floribunda

Herbaceous Plants to Try

Bulbs: autumn crocus, daffodil, Dutch iris, hyacinth, snowdrop, Siberian squill

Annuals: ageratum, larkspur, marigold, nasturtium, snapdragon, sweet alyssum

Perennials: bleeding heart, purple coneflower, daylily ('Stella de Oro'), coreopsis ('Moonbeam'), foxglove, lavender, lily of the valley, purple fountain grass, Russian sage


Last Updated: 
April 2012