Woody Ornamental Plants Rarely Damaged by Deer and Elk

American holly Common boxwood Colorado blue spruce
Drooping leucothoe Japanese pieris Juniper
Paper birch

Herbaceous Plants Rarely Damaged by Deer and Elk

Annuals and biennials:
Ageratum Blanket flower Blue salvia
Cleome Dahlia Dusty miller
Edging lobelia Forget-me-not Four O’clock
Foxglove Heliotrope Marigold
Morning glory Parsley Polka-dot plant
Poppy Snapdragon Sweet alyssum
Sweet basil Thorn apple Verbena
Wax begonia Zonal geranium
American bittersweet Amsonia Anemones
Angelica Astilbe Avens
Baby’s breath Balloon flower Barrenwort
Basket of gold Bishop’s weed Bittersweet
Beebalm Bergenia Bishop’s weed
Bleeding heart Boltonia Bugbane
Bugleweed Buttercup Butterfly bush
Candytuft Catmint Christmas fern
Cinnamon fern Cinquefoil Clematis
Columbine Coreopsis Crown imperial
Daffodil Dead nettle Evening primrose
False indigo Feverfew Forget-me-not
Garlic chives Gas plant Globe thistle
Goatsbeard Goldenrod Hay-scented fern
Heath Heather Hellebore
Hungarian speedwell Interrupted fern Jack-in-the-pulpit
Jacob’s ladder Japanese pachysandra Joe-pye weed
Knapweed Kirengeshoma Labrador violet
Lamb’s ear Lavender Lily-of-the-valley
Lupine Lungwort Mint
Mullein New York fern Oregano
Ornamental onion Ostrich fern Oriental poppy
Painted daisy Partridgeberry Pennyroyal
Perennial blue flax Plumbago Primrose
Purple coneflower Queen-of-the-prairie Rhubarb
Ribbon grass Rosemary Royal fern
Sage Scilla Sensitive fern
Shasta daisy Soapwort Spike gayfeather
Statice Sundrops Sweet Cicely
Sweet William Sweet Woodruff Tansy
Tiger lily Toadflax Turtlehead
Tussock bellflower Wisteria Wormwood
Yarrow Yucca

Woody Ornamental Plants Seldom Severely Damaged by Deer and Elk

American bittersweet American sweet gum Arborvitae
Australian fuchsia Austrian pine Aloe
Barberry Beautybush Bigleaf maple
Bitter cherry Black locust Bottlebrush
Boxwood Bridal veil broom Broom Brush
Cherry Busy Lizzie Butcher’s broom
California fuchsia Cape honeysuckle Carolina jassamine
Century Plant Chinese holly Chinese junipers
Chokecherry Clematis Coleonema
Common lilac Common sassafras Corkscrew willow
Cotoneaster Currant Gooseberry
Cypress Daphne Dusty miller
Elderberry English hawthorn English Ivy
Escallonia Eucalyptus, gum European beech
European white birch European larch Euryops
Evergreen eunomymus Fatcherdera Ferns
Firs (Abies species) Flowering Maple Forsythia
Guinea gold vine Grape Ivy Grevillea
Griselinia Gunnera Halimium
Hawthorn Hazelnut Heath
Hollyhock Honey locust Honey Bush
Hop Bush Inkberry Incense cedarIochroma
Japanese flowering cherry Japanese maple Japanese rose
Japanese wisteria Lavender Lilac, common
Lion’s tail Lodgepole pine Loropetalum
Lupine Kinnikinnik Kousa dogwood
Magnolia Maidenhair tree Mattress vine
Mayten tree Mountain laurel Monkey flower
Mugo pine Myoporum Norway spruce
Oleander Oregon Grape Pitch pine
Raoulia Red osier dogwood Red pine
Redvein enkianthus Redwood sorrel Rockrose
Rosemary Salal Santolina
Scots pine Shrubby Cinquefoil Star jasmine
Sugar bush Silk tree Silverberry
Smoke tree Snowberry , common Spurge
Sweet hakea Tanbark oak Trailing African daisy
Trailing latana True myrtle Vine Maple
Wax Myrtle Western hazlenut Western Red Cedar
Wild Lilac White pine Whitebark pine
White spruce

Woody Ornamental Plants Occasionally Severely Damaged by Deer and Elk

Allegheny serviceberry Anthony water spirea Basswood
Border forsythia Bradford callery pear Bridalwreath spirea
Bush cinquefoil Carolina hemlock Carolina rhododendron
Chestnut oak China girl/boy holly Climbing hydrangea
Common horsechestnut Common pear Common witchhazel
Cranberry cotoneaster Dawn redwood Deciduous azaleas
Doublefile viburnum Douglas fir Downy serviceberry
Eastern hemlock Eastern red cedar Eastern white pine
European larch Firethorn Greenspire littleleaf linden
Japanese cedar Japanese flowering quince Japanese holly
Japanese tree lilac Judd viburnum Korean spice viburnum
Late lilac Leatherleaf viburnum Northern red oak
Old fashion weigelia Panicled dogwood Panicled hydrangea
Paperbark maple Persian lilac Privet
Red maple Rhododendron Rockspray cotoneaster
Rosebay rhododendron Rose of Sharon Rugosa rose
Saucer magnolia Silver maple Smokebush
Smooth hydrangea Staghorn sumac Sugar maple
Sweet cherry Sweet mock orange Trumpet creeper
Virginia creeper White fir White oak

Herbaceous Plants Occasionally Damaged by Deer and Elk

Annuals and biennials


Coneflower Cranesbill geranium English ivy
Iris Meadow rue Peony
Sedum Wood hyacinth

Woody Ornamental Plants Frequently Severely Damaged by Deer and Elk

American arborvitae Atlantic white cedar Apples
Balsam fir Catawba rhododendron Cherries
Clematis Cornelian dogwood Emerald Cedar
English ivy English yew English/Japanese hybrid yew
European mountain ash Evergreen azaleas Frazer fir
Hybrid tea rose Japanese yew Norway maple
Pinxterbloom azalea Plums Pyramid Cedar
Rhododendrons Wintercreeper

Herbaceous Plants Frequently Damaged by Deer and Elk

Annuals and biennials
Hollyhocks Impatiens Mexican sunflower
Cardinal flower Crocus Day lily
Hosta Rose Tulips


Trees and Shrubs

Although deer may not eat your tree, its young trunk or stem may need protection from damage caused when deer rub their antlers and break new stems or strip off protective bark in the fall.

Note: (spp. = species)
Abies (true firs)
Acer (maples)
Deer safe varieties include big leaf,
vine and Japanese but not the expensive
hybrid forms
Acer negundo (box elder)
Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle tree)
Bamboos spp.
Most varieties are safe from deer
Betula (birches)
Buddleja (butterfly bush)
Usually not eaten by deer
Catalpa bignonioides (common catalpa)
Choisya ternata (Mexican mock orange)
Cornus kousa (Kousa dogwood)
Coptinus coggygria (smoke tree)
Crataegus (English hawthorn)
Cryptomeria (plume cedar)
Cupressus, Chamaecyparis (cypress)
Cytisus (broom)
Epimedium (barrenwort)
Genista monosperma (broom)
Safe from deer in its shrub form
Ilex (American holly)
Deer will eat the variegated forms
Juniperus spp. (junipers)
Kerria japonica
Liquidambar spp. (sweet gums)
Mahonia (Oregon grape)
Nandina domestica (heavenly bamboo)
Deer will eat the hybrid forms
Picea (spruce)
Pieris japonica (lily-of-the-valley-bush)
Pinus (pine)
Robina pseudoacacia
Stems need protection in fall
Sequoia sempervirens (redwood)
Spartium junceum (Spanish broom)
Symphoricarpos albus (snowberry)
Taxus (yew)
Thuja (cedar)
Sometimes deer will eat them in winter
Trachycarpus (windmill palm)


Achillea (yarrow)
Aconitum (Monkshood)
Very poisonous but occasionally eaten
Ageratum spp. (flossflower)
Agapanthus (lily of the Nile)
Ajuga reptans (carpet bugle)
Alliums (flowering onions)
Alcea rosea (hollyhock)
Anthemis tinctoria (perennial marguerite)
Antirrhinum majus (snapdragon)
Deer will eat them at the end of
the season when water is in
short supply
Aquilegia (columbine)
Sometimes left alone by deer
Arctotis stoechadifolia (African daisy)
Artemisia spp. (wormwood, tarragon)
Armeria maritima (sea pink)
Some fall species are safe from deer
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Bellis (English daisy)
Cactacese spp. (cactus)
Calendula officinalis (pot marigold)
Callistemon spp. (bottlebrushes)
Calycanthus occidentalis (sweet shrub)
Ceanothus sanguineus (wild lilac)
Deer eat the hybrid cultivars
(mountain bluet or perennial cornflower)
Cerastium (snow-in-summer)
Chrysanthemum maximum (shasta daisy)
Cordyline australis
Cortaderia spp. (Pampas grasses)
Daphne spp. (daphnes)
Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart)
Digitalis spp. (foxglove)
Doronicum (leopard’s bane daisy)
Dryopteris spp. (wood ferns)
Epimedium (barrenwort)
Eschscholzia (California poppy)
Euphorbia (spurge)
Festuca spp. (fescues/grasses)
Fritillaria spp.
Galanthus (snowdrops)
Galium (sweet woodruff)
Gaultheria (salal and wintergreen)
Geranium sanguinium and
G. macrorrhizum
Grasses (including Panicum, Miscanthus,
Calamagrostis, Festuca, Pennisetum)
Helianthus spp. (sunflower)
Helleborus spp. (hellebore)
Deer will avoid all strong smelling herbs
and those with gray/silver leaves
Humulus (hops)
Hypericum calycinum (Aaron’s beard or
creeping St. John’s wort)
Deer will only avoid them if lots of
food and water are available
Iris spp. (iris)
Jasminum officinale (jasmine)
Juglans regia (English or Persian walnut)
Juncus tenuis (wire grass)
Kniphofia uvaria (red hot poker)
Lamium (dead nettle)
Lantana montevidensis (trailing lantana)
Laurentia fluviatilis (blue star creeper)
Lavandula spp. (lavender)
Lupinus spp. (lupine)
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Mimulus spp. (monkey flower)
Myosotis spp. (forget-me-not)
Narcissus spp. (daffodil)
Nepeta (catmint)
Oenothera (evening primrose)
Osteospermum (African daisy)
Sometimes safe from deer
Oxalis oregana (redwood sorrel)
Pachysandra procumbens
Papaver nudicaule (Welsh, Icelandic,
Shirley poppies)
Papaver orientale (Oriental poppy)
Papaver somniforum
(opium or peony poppy)
Pelargoniums (scented geraniums)
Deer eat the foliage in late summer
Perovskia atriplicifolia
(Russian sage)
Phormium (New Zealand flax)
Polystichum spp. (sword ferns)
Potentilla fruticosa (shrubby cinquefoil)
Rheum spp. (rhubarb, pie plant)
Romneya coulteri
Ruta graveolens (rue)
May irritate sensitive skin
Rudbeckia (gloriosa daisy)
Sambucus racemosa (red elderberry)
Santolina spp.
Senecio cineraria (dusty miller)
Solanum spp. (nightshade)
Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ear)
Tagetes (marigolds)
Teucrium fructicans (germander)
Trillium spp.
Umbellularia californica
(Californian bay or Oregon myrtle)
Valeriana spp. (Valerian)
Vinca major, V. minor
(vinca, myrtle or periwinkle)
Deer eat variegated varieties
Woodwardia spp. (chain ferns)
Yucca spp. (yucca, Spanish bayonet)
Zantedeschia spp. (calla lily)