What are some deer resistant shrubs?

Published
10/11/2019
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deer resistant shrubs, deer control

What are some deer resistant shrubs?

If you live with deer, then you know that they can wreak havoc in your garden. When deer find something you're growing that they like, they'll come back again and again until it's gone. You can protect the plants in your garden and the overall aesthetic of your landscape if you scatter some of these deer resistant shrubs throughout your yard.

Generally speaking, it's safe to say that deer prefer a bland diet. This means that shrubs with a strong fragrance are less likely to appeal to them.

However, there are few hard-and-fast rules when it comes to what deer will and won't eat. When there is a particularly large local herd and food is scarce, deer are prone to trying just about anything.

Shrubs and Bushes That Deer Resist

1. Lilac Bushes

Lilac bushes, which you also may hear referred to as syringa, are a beautiful addition to any landscape. They are a deciduous shrub that brings a riot of blooms to your garden late in the spring. It's part of the olive family, and most of the varieties tend to be heavily scented.

Plant lilac bushes in loamy soil with full sun exposure. A neutral pH will ensure that your lilac bush thrives. Maximum dimensions range anywhere from six to 16 feet in height and eight to 12 feet wide. With bloom colors including white, lavender, burgundy and deep purple, there's a variety to suit any area in your garden.

2. English Boxwood

With their densely packed, glossy green foliage, the boxwood is a favorite of gardeners everywhere. Fortunately for gardeners who live in areas where deer roam, the boxwood is almost universally shunned by these mammals. This is likely because boxwood has quite a strong, distinctive scent.

Nonetheless, boxwoods make a fabulous statement in any landscape. You can cultivate a border around your entire property or simply grow a few specimens here and there in your landscape.

Plant boxwood in well-drained soil that has a pH of between 6.8 to 7.5. Anything from full sun to partial shade suits the boxwood. However, it's best if these shrubs don't get a lot of direct afternoon sunlight. Boxwoods have shallow root systems, so mulching is essential.

3. Butterfly Bush

This full-sun shrub is hardy and able to grow in virtually any type of soil. A well-placed adequately nourished butterfly bush will bring color to your garden from summer to fall.

Bloom colors may include white, yellow, red, pink and purple, and these shrubs thrive in hardiness zones five through 10. While they attract birds, butterflies and bees, these showy shrubs are decidedly not a favorite of deer.

Butterfly bush grows fast, so if you have a bare spot in your garden, feel free to fill it with this plant. It's a low-maintenance shrub, needing only dead-heading during the blooming season and a once-a-year pruning near the end of winter. Pruning will encourage the shrub to produce more blooms and promote a more attractive shape.

4. Cinquefoil

Sometimes also called potentilla, cinquefoil is a popular shrub that is seen in landscapes in many hardiness zones. It boasts a long bloom time, usually from June through September.

Many people are drawn to this shrub because it requires so little care and maintenance. It seems like this species can grow in virtually any soil and conditions. Salt air, pollution and drought don't deter them, but overly hot, humid summers may do them in, especially in regions in the Deep South.

While gardeners love cinquefoil, deer hate it. So do other pests, so if your garden is suffering from a plague of insects, your cinquefoil will probably go untouched.

5. Japanese Spirea

This is another deer-resistant shrub that boasts amazing color and an impressively long blooming season. Just as attractive, Japanese Spirea is nearly impossible to kill.

Plant Spirea in full sun or partial shade locations with well-drained soil. It's a dense, compact shrub, and from late spring through the summer, it blooms with pink, red or white blooms.

Spirea is available in a tremendous number of cultivars, some with eye-catching foliage in yellows and bright greens. While bees and butterflies will certainly gather around your Spirea, deer will probably give them a wide berth.

6. Beauty Bush

Kolkwitzia amabilis is an old-fashioned shrub that you may have seen in your grandmother's garden. Fortunately, it's just as pretty today as it was back then, and it is just as deer resistant.

A mature beauty bush may grow to heights from 78" to 108" with a similar spread. In a full sun location or a partial shade spot, this plant should thrive. Because it blooms all the way from spring through fall, you'll get plenty of bang for your buck when you add beauty bush to your landscape.

Beauty bush does well in USDA hardiness zones four through eight, making it an excellent choice for most of the country.

7. Northern Bayberry

From the rugged coastline of Maine comes the hardy bayberry. It thrives in hardiness zones three through six, and bayberry grows slowly. This gives you time to adjust other elements in your landscape to accommodate the ultimate six- to 10-foot tall size. Northern Bayberry frequently is as wide as it is tall.

Bayberry shrubs have deeply aromatic leaves that deer reject in almost all seasons. Nonetheless, the glossy, thick leaves are considered beautiful by many gardeners. These shrubs can grow in almost any soil, even those that feature sand or clay. Their favorite conditions are slightly acidic, moist, sandy soil.

Pair these deer resistant shrubs with a deer fence to help control your deer problem while maintaining a beatiful yard. 

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