If you live in an area that has a heavy deer population that routinely makes their way into your yard know how challenging it can be to protect your plants. Deer will get into both your front and back yards, and fences may not even keep them out. You may have heard of deer-resistant shrubs and plants, but did you know that there are many deer resistant annuals out there that you can use to add texture or pops of color to your landscape? On top of this, there are also strategies you can incorporate to help protect your plants like building a fence and using sprays.
However, one of the best things you can do is plant deer resistant annuals that the deer will avoid if they manage to sneak through your defenses. The goal with planting deer resistant annuals is to get a space that is a feast for your eyes and not for your local deer population. If you’re not sure which annuals you can have, this list is for you. While it won’t make your yard 100% deer-proof, they’ll think twice about eating your deer-resistant annuals to the ground, and this increases your chances of having a gorgeous yard all season long.
Anyone who wants to add height to their yard with dramatic sprays of color should check out this deer resistant annual. The flower spikes make this plant a stunning addition to any yard, and they bloom profusely during the cooler temperature that spring and fall brings in. You can also choose from a huge range of cultivars to get varying heights and looks, and they make fantastic additions to the backs of your landscape design or set out along pathways.
They do best in zones nine and ten, but they can survive as a deer-resistant annual in cooler zones without an issue. They do require full sun to encourage healthy growth and profuse blooming, and they don’t like the shade. They’ll start blooming in mid-spring and continue on until the first frost hits, and they can get between 6 and 30-inches tall and 10 to 18-inches wide. They need rich soil that drains well, and you may have to stake larger varieties for support.
Snapdragons by Samantha Forsberg / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Verbenas are a very bright and popular deer resistant annual that you’ll find growing in a range of zones. They’ll bloom in the early spring months and continue on until the first frost if you trim them back in the midsummer to encourage new growth. You’ll get small flower clusters offset by deep green leaves, and the flowers come in yellow, dark red, purple, lavender, blue, white, pink, and bicolors. There are also several cultivars available, depending on where you want to plant them.
If you want to grow them as a perennial, plant them in zones eight to eleven. For deer resistant annuals, you can grow them in other zones easily. Verbenas do require full, direct sunlight for several hours a day to encourage healthy growth. The height and spread can vary, and they offer cultivars that are low-growing to ones that are upright and taller. Plant them in well-draining but rich soil that you keep moist.
Verbena by Rino Porrovecchio / CC BY-SA 2.0
3. Floss Flower
Floss flowers are an excellent deer resistant annual to help add texture to your garden, and this is exactly what the deer hate about it. You’ll get tight clusters of lavender-blue flowers with a very rough-textured foliage, and this deters the deer too. You can choose from shades of pink, blue, white, and purple. You will have to deadhead it during the summer when the flowers die back to encourage new growth, depending on the cultivar you pick out.
They grow best in zones 10 and 11, and they prefer hot climates. It’s common to plant them in the fall to encourage very late spring color. You can plant them in an area that gets full sun to partial shade, and they’ll bloom until the frost hits with deadheading. They’ll get from 4 to 36-inches tall, and this deer resistant annual can spread from 6 to 18-inches wide.
Floss Flower by farkomer / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
4. Canna Lily
This is a sun-loving deer resistant annual that can easily live for many years if you dig up the roots before the frost hits in the fall and store them over the winter. Canna lilies can be perennial in tropical climates, but they do well as an annual too. This plant can get up to five feet tall with the right growing conditions, and you’ll get very tropical, bold leaves that make them a statement piece for your landscaping. The foliage can be burgundy, green, variegated, or striped. They produce very tall flower spikes.
To grow this deer resistant annual, you’ll plant them outside in zones 7 to 11. Since this is a tropical plant, it needs plenty of full, direct sunlight each day. Ideally, you’ll give them at least eight hours of sunlight, and they like higher humidity levels. They can do okay in partial shade, but they prefer sun. The soil should be rich and well-draining, and they like it to be consistently moist.
Lilly Canna by email@example.com-OFF-For Several Months / CC BY-NC 2.0
This is a lacy-leaved deer resistant annual that gives you a very short bloom time that lasts between three and four weeks at maximum. However, they’ll self-sow and return to this spot year in and year out. They produce blooms in shades of dark blue, pale blue, white, and more. You’ll get slender, feathery leaves that add a touch of texture to your garden, and the flowers have a sweet scent that is too sweet for deer to tolerate. So, they’ll usually leave it alone.
You can eat the seeds on this plant, and they have a peppery taste that makes them popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. You’ll plant this deer resistant annual in rich soil that is on the drier side. It can get between one foot tall and less than a foot wide. It can grow well in zones 2 to 10, but you’ll want to plant it in a place in your yard that gets plenty of sunshine. It won’t survive the frost.
Maig_1446 by Joan / CC BY-NC 2.0
This is an old-school deer resistant annual, and they drop seeds in the fall so they can return in the spring in the same place. It’s popular in many herbal products because Marigolds have edible flowers that grow in shades of yellow, orange, salmon, rust, and pink. They’re single and double-petaled too, and they have a very, very strong scent associated with them that can help keep the deer away. They make excellent cut flowers, and they’re excellent for beginner gardeners to grow.
Marigolds like to have plain garden soil, and the soil should drain very well between watering sessions. To keep them happy, plant them in a place that gets full, bright sun throughout the day. They’ll bloom from early spring until the fall months, and they require very little in the way of maintenance. These deer resistant annuals have light green foliage with elongated leaves to add texture to the area. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
Marigold by Jim, the Photographer / CC BY 2.0
7. Flowering Tobacco
If you’re after a sweet smelling deer resistant annual, look no further than Flowering Tobacco. There are several different species you can choose, including hybrids. You’ll get tubular flowers that hummingbirds love, and they emit a sweet smell in the evening hours that deer avoid. You do want to keep them away from tomatoes as they can attract tobacco and tomato hornworms that can lay eggs on the tomato plants and kill them when they hatch.
This deer resistant annual requires well draining soil that is slightly sandy, and you’ll have to water it a little more due to the fast drainage. Grow it outside in zones 10 or 11. It likes full sun to partial shade, and it’ll bloom in the mid-summer months well into the fall. It will add height to your yard, and it fills in spaces nicely, especially if you have a wildflower garden.
Flowering Tobacco by daryl mitchell / CC BY-SA 2.0
Lantana is a favorite deer resistant annual of butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. This is a very frost-tender plant, and it produces rounded bloom clusters of flowers in a tubular shape. They can change colors as they bloom, and it’s very easy to start this plant from stem cuttings. You can overwinter it in the garage if your temperatures stay just above freezing to turn it into a perennial, but this is slightly more challenging for new gardeners because they can freeze and die.
You can easily grow this plant as an annual or perennial in zones 9 to 11. They really like a lot of full, direct sunlight to grow healthy. The soil should be well-drained by slightly acidic.They can tolerate almost any soil condition, including salty soil. They’re popular in coastal gardens, and they can easily get up to two feet tall under the correct conditions.
Lantana by Peter Miller / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Better known as summer snapdragons, this deer resistant annual offers spiked blooms that look a lot like traditional snapdragons. They have individual flowers that are smaller and come in different shapes. THis plant will bloom nonstop from late spring well into the fall months, but you do have to occasionally deadhead them to encourage new blooms. They can get from 12 to 18-inches high, but you can also get much more compact varieties that resist deer too. They look nice in containers or garden beds.
To grow this plant, put it in well-drained but rich soil that you water consistently when they’re young to keep it moist. They grow well in zones 8 to 11 without any major issues, and this deer resistant annual can withstand brief droughts as long as you put a lot of compost in the soil. Since they bloom constantly, you’ll want this plant to be in full sun to give them the energy they need to produce the flowers. Let the soil dry out between waterings for established plants.
Angelonia by Linda De Volder / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
10. Sweet Alyssum
Sweet Alyssum is a deer resistant annual that is a great fall flower to plant, and they’re ground hugging with a very fragrant scent. You can plant it just about anywhere and it’ll be happy, including in vegetable gardens, containers, flower beds, foundation plantings, hanging baskets, and flower borders. You’ll get tiny bloom clusters, and it blooms constantly from spring to fall. White is a very common color, but it comes in salmon, pink, lavender, and purple hues too.
This deer resistant annual grows three to four-inches tall, and it tends to trail along the ground. It grows best in zones five to nine outdoors. You’ll want your dirt to drain very well between watering sessions, and it needs full sun to be able to produce flowers all summer long. The soil should be neutral to acidic, and you want to try and keep it moist. Don’t allow the soil to dry out if you can help it.
Sweet Alyssum by TJ Gehling / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
11. Sulfur Cosmos
There are several types of cosmos available, but many of them are deer fodder. This is a type of deer resistant annual that makes a gorgeous cut flower. You’ll get bright yellow or orange flowers that stand up very tall to add height to your garden. They feature slender stems and medium-green foliage. The plant will start to flower in early July and go until the first frost hits. You can grow it in zones 1 to 10, so this allows you to have it in many areas without killing it.
This deer resistant annual can grow between 36 and 48-inches tall in the correct growing conditions. They can grow in full sun, half sun, and partial shade. The more sun that this plant gets, the more flowers it will be able to produce when it blooms. The soil should be well-draining and neutral, but you can enrich it with compost. They work well in mass plantings too.
Cosmos sulphureus by Rahul Bulbule / CC BY-NC 2.0
12. Black Eyed Susan
Perennial Black-Eyed Susans can fall to deer grazing, annual varieties see to be a nice switch. They’re deer resistant annuals come with very thick-textured and fuzzy leaves that seem to put deer off. The flower buds also share this thicker texture with fuzziness. They’re technically a biannual, but you can grow them as an annual in cooler planting zones. Additionally, there are many drought-resistant species available, and this is great if you forget to water.
Grow your deer resistant annual in zones three to nine, and they can get between two and seven feet tall. They like full sun to partial shade, and they’ll bloom all spring and summer long until fall. They develop large root systems, so they don’t do well in containers. The soil should be neutral and well-draining, and you want to let it dry between watering sessions. You’ll get a bright yellow color with a black or deep brown center.
Black Eyed Susans by John Munt / CC BY-NC 2.0
This is a stunning deer resistant annual that offers gorgeous foliage. You will enjoy the heart-shaped leaves on this plant, and they come in a huge range of variegations and colors. They don’t grow flowers, but their leaves are their selling point. In tropical climates, this will be a perennial, but you can grow it in cooler zones as an annual. They grow well in zones nine to eleven, and you can dig them up in the fall and overwinter them in the garage in a box of peat moss before replanting them in the spring.
This deer resistant annual will get between 18 and 24-inches tall, and they will spread to varying widths, depending on the cultivar and planting zone. They do best in full to partial shade, and they don’t like a lot of sun. The soil should be well-draining, but you do want to keep it consistently moist. They can survive dry periods once they establish themselves.
Caladium. By Bernard Spragg / CC0 1.0
Begonias are a beautiful deer resistant annual that produce stunning flowers, and you can get species that have variegated foliage to add to their beauty. They also come in a huge range of textures, shapes, sizes, and forms, and this makes it easy to mix and match your Rex Begonia with other varieties to get a unique look for your landscape. You’ll get cascading blooms that deer avoid, and they give you non stop color from spring to the fall months.
They grow best in zones six to nine, but you can overwinter them in the garage to encourage them to come back. This deer resistant annual gets 12-inches tall and 18-inches wide, and they are best planted in full shade to partial shade. The leaves will burn in direct sunlight. The soil should be neutral and well-draining. Make sure to keep it consistently moist without letting it dry out to keep the plant happy.
Begonia by Keith Davenport / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
15. Wishbone Flower
This is a pretty deer resistant annual that offers thumbnail-sized blooms. The anther inside has a wishbone shape, and this is where the plant gets the name. They start blooming in the late spring, and they’ll continue to bloom into the late fall months. You can get clumping or trailing varieties of this plant, and they produce purple, pink, white, or blue flowers. There are also trailing plants that give you bi-colored purple and yellow flowers set against medium green foliage.
You can grow this deer resistant annual outside in zones two to eleven without a problem, and you’ll want to deadhead the plant in the summer to encourage new blooms. The soil should drain well but stay consistently moist. This flower is susceptible to root rot, so don’t saturate the soil. You also want to fertilize it twice a month during the active blooming seasons, and plant in an area that gets partial to full shade.
Wishbone Flower by daryl-mitchell / CC BY-SA 2.0
16. Spider Flower
Spider flowers are a deer resistant annual that will add a pop of color and texture to your landscape or garden design. It is a self-sowing plant that will grow like a weed once you plant it, so you do have to keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t take over. It’s very popular with pollinators, and it can grow up to six or eight feet tall. There are also more compact plants available, and it’ll give you textured flowers in shades of white, light pink, or dark pink.
You’ll get a tall and wispy look with this deer resistant annual, and it requires a very rich soil to thrive. The soil should drain well between watering sessions, and you want to plant it in partial shade. Keep it out of direct sunlight to avoid damage. The blooms are wonderfully offset by deep green foliage, and it creates an eye-catching look.
17. Persian Shield
This is a foliage plant with no flowers, but it’s a pretty deer resistant annual that you can grow easily in areas plagued by deer. You’ll get dark purple leaves that have a silver grey edge on them, and they do very well planted in container gardens. It is a woody shrub in areas that don’t get freezing temperatures, but you’ll have to use it as an annual if the frost gets to it because it won’t survive it. It does very well planted with deep red caladiums.
This plant is hardy to zones nine through eleven, but it’s very popular as an indoor plant in cooler climates. It won’t do well if your temperatures dip below 60-degrees F. It also likes very humid and hot weather. The soil should be very rich and drain well, but it also has to be consistently moist to mimic the plant’s normal tropical environment. Plant it in an area that gets partial shade out of the direct sunlight.
Persian Shield by Doug McAbee / CC BY-NC 2.0
Nasturtiums are deer resistant annuals that offer very round, succulent leaves with very colorful flowers. This is a great option to help you fill in dead space in your garden, and you can choose trailing varieties too that creep along the ground. There are also bush-forming species available that are more compact and contained. The flowers are edible, and you can get red, yellow, pink, or orange coloring for an eye-catching look. They have medium-green foliage on thin stems.
You can grow this deer resistant annual in zones two to eleven, and they get up to 10 feet tall with three feet wide. The pH should fall between six and eight, and the soil should be well-draining and kept at medium moisture levels. You should plant this flower in a location that gets full sun. It needs sunlight to produce the flowers, and it’ll bloom from May to September.
Nasturtiums by Linda, Fortuna future / CC BY-NC 2.0
19. Globe Amaranth
The flowers on this deer resistant annual looks like mini powder puffs, and this helps them add a lot of soft texture to your garden. There are short-bedding varieties of this plant, but the straight varieties can get between 18 and 24-inches high. You’ll get non stop flowers from spring to late summer. The deers don’t like the texture of the flowers, so they tend to leave them alone. You get bright green foliage with slender stems to help it stand out when it blooms.
This deer resistant annual will grow well in zones two to twelve. They like to have full sun to partial shade, and you want to keep them out of the direct sunlight. The soil should drain very well, and it can survive periods of dry soil without any damage. It requires very little maintenance, and this makes it a nice choice for new gardeners.
Breaking the Rules by F Delventhal / CC BY 2.0
These 19 hardy deer resistant annuals are an excellent choice if you have problems keeping your garden or landscape alive due to deer grazing. You can mix and match them in the shaded and sunny areas of your yard to add height, texture, and interest. You’ll get beautiful blooms all spring and summer long, well into fall. Some have flowers while others have beautiful foliage, but all of them will improve your home’s curb appeal.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.