Zone 8 Deer Resistant Plants – Are There Plants Deer Hate In Zone 8

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Most people have a favorite restaurant, a place that we frequent because we know we will get a good meal and we enjoy the atmosphere. Like humans, deer are creatures of habit and have good memories. When they find a place where they have gotten a good meal and felt safe while feeding, they will keep coming back to that area. If you live in zone 8 and would like to prevent your landscape from becoming the favorite restaurant of local deer, continue reading to learn more about deer resistant plants in zone 8.

About Zone 8 Deer Resistant Plants

There are no plants that are completely deer proof. That being said, there are plants that deer prefer to eat, and there are plants that deer rarely eat. When food and water are scarce, however, desperate deer may eat anything they can find, even if they don’t particularly like it.

In spring and early summer, pregnant and nursing deer require more food and nutrition, so they may eat things that they don’t touch any other time of the year. In general, though, deer prefer to eat in areas where they feel safe and have easy access to, not where they are out in the open and feel exposed.

Oftentimes, these places will be near the edges of woodlands, so they can run for cover if they feel threatened. Deer also like to feed near waterways. Plants on the edges of ponds and streams usually contain more moisture in their foliage.

Are There Plants Deer Hate in Zone 8?

While there are many deer repellents you can purchase and spray to deer proof gardens in zone 8, these products need to be reapplied often and deer may just tolerate the unpleasant scent or taste if they are hungry enough.

Planting zone 8 deer resistant plants can be a better option than spending lots of money on repellant products. While there are no guaranteed zone 8 plants deer won’t eat, there are plants they prefer not to eat. They don’t like plants with strong, pungent odors. They also tend to avoid plants with thick, hairy or prickly stems or foliage. Planting these plants around or near, deer favorites can help deter deer. Below is a list of some plants for deer proof gardens in zone 8.

Zone 8 Deer Resistant Plants

  • Abelia
  • Agastache
  • Amaryllis
  • Amsonia
  • Artemisia
  • Bald Cypress
  • Baptisia
  • Barberry
  • Boxwood
  • Buckeye
  • Butterfly bush
  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Chaste Tree
  • Coneflower
  • Crape myrtle
  • Daffodil
  • Dianthus
  • Dwarf Yaupon
  • False Cypress
  • Fern
  • Firebush
  • Gardenia
  • Gaura
  • Ginkgo
  • Hellebore
  • Japanese Yew
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Juniper
  • Katsura Tree
  • Kousa Dogwood
  • Lacebark Elm
  • Lantana
  • Magnolia
  • Oleander
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Ornamental Peppers
  • Palms
  • Pineapple Guava
  • Quince
  • Red Hot Poker
  • Rosemary
  • Salvia
  • Smoke bush
  • Society Garlic
  • Spirea
  • Sweetgum
  • Tea Olive
  • Vinca
  • Wax Begonia
  • Wax Myrtle
  • Weigela
  • Witch Hazel
  • Yucca
  • Zinnia

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Deer pose a pesky nuisance for gardeners. Though they may be enjoyable to look at, deer will nibble on many types of popular landscaping trees. The damage deer cause can lead to trees that appear sickly or malnourished. The tree can suffer from more than just appearance issues – significant deer damage can impact the future life of your plant, and even cause it to die much earlier than it should.

Deer damage trees in several ways. During winter, food resources for deer dwindle. To get through these tough months, deer rely on the lichens that grow on trees to suffice for food. In eating the lichens off the trees, deer will rip off strips of bark, exposing the tree to the harshest seasonal elements. Deer also feed on evergreen leaves, or needles, often completely removing entire layers of the shrub or tree. The damage deer can do to trees can oftentimes devastate the tree permanently.

Antler rubbing is another common behavior that can negatively impact the growth of trees. Male deer will rub their antlers against trees in order to remove the velvety film. This damage, which occurs primarily on flexible and smaller tree limbs, can remove the entre outer bark and even damage the tree’s vascular tissue.

After all this worrisome news, it can be comforting to learn that there are ways to circumvent these pesky pests. Netting and fencing can provide temporary relief, but these can also become expensive, cumbersome, and unattractive. Planting plants that deer find unattractive can be one tool for dealing with high deer populations.

For homeowners who plant in areas laden with deer, these types of plants can be an essential tool to deter these majestic, but destructive, animals. Engaging in some proper research can make the difference between aggressive deer damage and a successful, deer-resistant garden attraction.

Deer tolerant plants come in a variety of types, and they cover all manner of plant types: shrubs, trees, shade plants, and evergreens. These commonly affected plants have cultivars that are capable withstanding the most abhorrent of deer attacks. These medium-sized mammals can be enjoyable to watch (and even get up to close to in deer parks), but they can be a deadly pest in the garden. Check out some of these deer-resistant plants, collected by The Tree Center experts, and plan out your pest-resistant garden today.

If you have a deer problem there is plenty of hope. Many plants contain substances, textures, or fragrances that deer don’t like. You can find a complete list of them on my Deer Repellant page here. But, there are some deer resistant plants that do an amazing job and do so in a variety of ways.

Deer do not eat plants that have a bitter taste

One of the easiest to grow, worse tasting and a strongly scented deer resistant plant is Achillea or Yarrow. Their bright pink blooms are lovely scattered around the garden and make a great deer deterrent. They also create an aroma that helps discourage deer. The Lobelia Red Cardinal Flower contains a bitter taste that will make the deer think twice before eating that one again!

Deer will not eat fragrant plants

Lavender is one of the most enjoyable and fragrant flowers in the garden but also a flower that the deer hate. The Lavender plant is filled with aromatic oils that the deer will not eat. Lucky for us! Mint family plants also have a smell that keeps the deer away. Monarda and Perovskia or Russian Sage work very well and survives the grazing of the deer.

Deer avoid toxic plants

I would never suspect that such a happy and inviting flower as the Poppy could be a deer resistant plant but thankfully it is. Poppies contain alkaloids that make it poisonous to deer. Once a deer learns what makes them sick they won’t be back. Other toxic plants include my favorites Delphiniums and Datura,

Create a natural deer resistant fence with plants

You can make a natural garden fence with vigorous growing deer resistant plants Perovskia or Russian Sage as a border is perfect for the job. Russian Sage can grow 3’ tall and form a hedge to discourage deer from hurting your plants by scent and forms a barrier. There are other plants that have the potential to make excellent garden natural fences to repel deer. Cleome is a reseeding tall annual with thorny stems. On top of that, it's strongly scented. Some find it pleasant, others skunky. Don’t worry you have to get your nose up close to notice! It's tall, branching and free flowering. Monarda also works. It spreads easily, is strongly scented and has a long bloom season. Of course, all these can be mixed in the garden as well to discourage the deer.

When spring comes, deer are extra hungry and they may try anything. Young fawns are also just learning the ropes so may still nibble and check the plants out. There is nothing foolproof but there are a lot of other plants the deer would rather eat.

Deer Resistant Gardening Techniques

Resistant Plants

Many of our favorite vegetables are naturally deer resistant. Tomatoes and potatoes are not appealing to deer palettes.

You can also plant deer-resistant plants around the perimeter of your garden as a natural fence. This way they lose interest before entering the garden.

Deer dislike plants with heavy smells. This includes many herbs such as lavender, rosemary, hyssop, and mints. You can plant these herbs alongside your more vulnerable crops, such as greens.

Deer are primarily browsers and eat forbs (non-woody plants that aren’t grasses) and woody plants. They don’t eat grasses as a mainstay. If your garden is surrounded by a nice lawn of grass, it may keep them from wandering over as much.

Mow Your Grass

Deer like to be around brush and low trees, especially cedars and pines which give them areas to hide. During the day they will bed down and chew there cud. In early morning and evening, they come out to graze and browse.

By keeping your yard mowed and brushed cleared out you will reduce deer incidents.


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