If you live in an area with a large deer population, you are probably all too familiar with the damage these animals can cause to a garden. Under normal circumstances, deer are relatively choosy about what they eat, but when food is scarce, they become far less picky.
In New Jersey, hungry deer cause millions of dollars of damage every year, to local farms and nurseries, commercial properties, public lands and home landscapes. To help address the problem, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, created a database that identifies which plants are the most deer tolerant. Data was provided by regional nursery and landscape professionals, Master Gardeners, and Rutgers NJ Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension personnel.
“Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance” is a valuable resource for gardeners far beyond New Jersey. It groups ornamental plants into four categories: rarely damaged, seldom severely damaged, occasionally severely damaged and frequently severely damaged. In addition to the perennials, annuals, bulbs and groundcovers listed below, the full list also includes trees, shrubs, vines and ornamental grasses.
Here is a list of plants that were found to be “rarely damaged”. They're a good place to start if you're trying to make your yard and garden less appealing to deer. For other ideas, we recommend: How to Protect Your Garden From Deer.