Some years, rabbits eat the foliage on the crocus, some years they don’t. Deer eat the lilies and take a few flowers off the hydrangea. Or both of them eat the crocus under the tree, but not next to the patio. Or vice versa. But one thing is certain: rabbits and deer will always eat the tulips.
It can make you feel like you need a guard tower and security lights to keep your plants safe, because it’s impossible to predict which will be grazed or outright consumed by deer and rabbits each season.
From personal experience, most damage seems to be done in early spring when food sources are somewhat limited (compared to summer) and mating season is underway. But a hungry animal in any season will eat just about anything, even plants that are poisonous.
As the saying goes, your best defense is a strong offense. Install plants that deer and rabbits don’t care for and you’ll have far fewer nights weeping into your pillow.
Ideas for discouraging rabbits and deer from eating your plants
Deer, rabbits, squirrels, and most animals are discouraged by aromatic plants like strong herbs (basil, rosemary); plants with spines like Prickly Pear; plants with tough leaves (lamb’s ear); or plants with milky sap. Use these deterrent plants near your more tempting plants and animals may leave them alone.
New plants are more likely to be nibbled on than well established, large plants. Protect new transplants and early season growth as long as possible with perimeter fencing, milk jugs, or deer, squirrel, and rabbit repellents.
The best way to keep rabbits and deer from dining on your plants is to fence them off. It’s unsightly yes, but a physical barrier works better than anything else.
I’ve had great success with bottled repellents like Liquid Fence that are made with putrescent egg solids – animals appear to take one whiff and wander off. The downside is that you have to spray after every rainfall, which can become expensive during a rainy season. To enjoy finely scented blooms, spray repellents around the shrub or flower and not on it.
As far as your vegetable garden is concerned, nothing but onions and garlic are off limits to deer and rabbits.
Buy on Amazon: Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent
Flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees that are rabbit and deer resistant Table is ordered by Botanical name. Click to reorder by common name.
Common Plant Name Botanical Name Glossy Abelia Abelia grandiflora Fir Abies spp. Vine Maple Acer circinatum Japanese Maple Acer palmatum Yarrow Achillea spp. Monkshood Aconitum spp. Agave Agave spp. Carpet Bugle Ajuga spp. Albizia Albizia spp. Alliums (chives, onions, cleome) Allium spp. Naked Lady Amaryllis belladonna Pearly Everlasting Anaphalis margaritacea Pussytoes Antennaria Columbine Aquilegia spp. Manzanita, Kinnikinnick, Pinemat Arctostaphylos spp. Pink Sea Thrift, Sea Pink Armeria spp. Sage (Artemisia)
Artemisia spp. Aster Aster spp. False Spiraea (Astilbe) Astilbe spp Basket Of Gold Aurinia saxatilis Begonia Begonia spp. Barberry Berberis spp. Bergenia Bergenia spp. Swan River Daisy Brachycome iberidifolia Butterfly Bush Buddleia spp. Boxwood Buxus spp. Duster, Fairy Duster Calliandra spp. Bellflower Campanula spp. Cedar Cedrus spp. Hackberry, Sugarberry Celtis spp. Centaurea Centaurea spp. Snow-in-Summer Cerastium tomentosum Dwarf Plumbago Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Redbud Cercis spp. Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany
Cercocarpus ledifolius Flowering Quince Chaenomeles spp. Chamisa, Rabbitbrush Chrysothamnus nauseosus Rocky Mountain Beeplant Cleome serrulata Lily Of The Valley Convallaria majalis Littleleaf Cordia Cordia parvifolia Coreopsis Coreopsis spp. Golden Smoke Corydalis aurea Cotoneaster Cotoneaster lucidus Hawthorn Crataegus spp. Crocus Crocus spp. Cypress Cupressus spp. Dahlia Dahlia hybrids Dalea, Prairie Clover, Indigo Bush Dalea spp. Daphne Daphne spp. Delphinium Delphinium spp. Dianthus Dianthus spp. Bleeding Heart Dicentra spp.
Dragon's Head Dracocephalon spp Brittlebush Encelia farinosa Turpentine Bush Ericarmeria laricifolia Fleabane, Showy Daisy Erigeron spp. Wild Buckwheat, Sulphur Flower Eriogonum spp. California Poppy Eschscholzia californica Euphorbia Euphorbia spp. Apache Plume Fallugia paradoxa Blue Fescue Festuca ovina ’Glauca’
Ash Fraxinus spp. Blanket Flower Gaillardia grandiflora Cranesbill, Geranium Geranium spp. Maidenhair Tree Ginkgo biloba Creeping Baby’s Breath Gypsophila repens English Ivy Hedera helix Straw Flower Helichrysum bracteatum Blue Avena Oat Grass Helictotrichon sempervirens Daylily
Hemerocallis spp. Candytuft Iberis spp. Holly Ilex spp. Balsam Impatiens spp. Iris Iris spp. Juniper Juniperus spp. Chuparosa, Hummingbird Bush, Beloperone Justicia californica Japanese Rose, Japanese Kerria Kerria Japonica Red-Hot Poker Kniphofia uvaria Dead Nettle
Lamium maculatum Lantana Lantana spp. Lavender Lavandula spp. Leucophyllum Leucophyllum spp. Blue Flax Linum lewisii Lupine Lupinus spp. Crown-Pink Lychnis coronaria Tansy Aster Macaeranthera tanacetifolia Magnolia Magnolia spp. Creeping Oregon Grape, Oregon Grape
Mahonia spp. Ferns Many Species Blackfoot Daisy Melampodium leucanthum Bee Balm Monarda spp. Bamboo Most Species Forget-Me-Not Myosotis scorpioides Daffodlis Narcissus spp. Catnip Nepeta spp. Oregano Origanum spp. Locoweed Oxytropis Japanese Spurge Pachysandra terminalis Poppy Papaver spp. Virginia Creeper, Engelmann Ivy Parthenocissus spp. Beard Tongue, Penstemon Penstemon spp. Creeping Phlox Phlox subulata Spruce Picea spp. Pine Pinus spp. Jacob’s Ladder Polemonium caeruleum Potentilla, Cinquefoil
Potentilla spp. Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii Firethorn Pyracantha spp. Oak Quercus spp. Mexican Hat Ratibida columnifera Sumac Rhus spp. Currant, Gooseberry Ribes spp. Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Boulder Raspberry Rubus deliciosus
Gloriosa Daisy, Blackeyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta Sage, Salvia Salvia spp. Santolina Santolina spp. Soapwort Saponaria ocymoides Saxifrage Saxifraga spp. Pincushion Flower Scabiosa spp. Squill (Bluebell) Scilla spp. Jojoba Simmondsia chinensis Goldenrod Solidago spp. Texas Mountain Laurel Sophora Secundiflora Lamb’s Ears Stachys byzantina Prince's Plume Stanleya Feather Grass Stipa spp. Sedum Stone Crop Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus Lilac Syringa spp. Golden Banner Thermopsis divaricarpa Thyme Thymus spp. Verbena Verbena spp. Speedwell, Veronica Veronica spp. Viburnum Viburnum spp. Periwinkle Vinca spp. Sweet Violet Viola odorata Wisteria Wisteria spp. California Fuchsia Zauschneria californica Hummingbird Trumpet, Orange Carpet Zauschneria garrettii