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14 Best Deer Resistant Shade Plants and Flowers

14 Shade Loving Deer Resistant Plants to Keep Wild Animals Away from Your Garden

If you live in a deer prone area, then you will find these deer resistant shade plants very helpful for keeping deer at bay.

It can be challenging to protect your garden while living in a place with a high deer population. Deer tend to invade your garden and eat all your flowers and plants. However, this does not mean you cannot have a wonderful garden.

You just need to know the right kind of plants to grow – those that are not appealing to deer and rabbits. In this article, we feature some of the best shade loving deer resistant plants and flowers that can deter deer from your garden.

Different types of deer resistant shade plants.

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14 Best Deer Resistant Shade Plants to Keep Wild Animals at Bay

#1. Pieris Japonica

Pieris Japonica

Common Name(s): Japanese Andromeda, Japanese pieris, Andromeda japonica, Fetterbush

Zones: 4b to 8b

Pieris japonica is a slow-growing plant distinguished by its wonderful bronze foliage in springtime. When in full bloom Pieris form a band of urn-shaped pink or white flowers. Blooming starts in late winter or early springtime.

It is a highly poisonous flower when ingested by animals or human beings due to grayanotoxins found in the leaves and flowers. Its toxicity can cause vomiting, heart attack, and death in extreme cases.

#2. Astilbe


Common Names: False goat’ beard, False spirea

Zones: 3 to 9

Astilbe is likely to be the focal point of your flower bed due to its tall, wooly tuft flowers and fern-like foliage that makes it an amazing companion plant. It appears deceptively fragile but it’s a hardy semi-shade loving (yields more when exposed to the gentle morning sun) perennial that flourishes in different zones depending on the soil composition and moisture. It grows up to 10 cm tall.

#3. Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis)


Other Names: Jerusalem cowslip, Soldiers, Bethlehem sage, Sailors, and Spotted dog

Zones: 3 to 9

Although not scientifically proven, lungwort was traditionally used as medicine for healing wounds, treating stomach-related ailments, and soothing urinary tract complications.

Lungwort derived its name from its lung-shaped leaves. It is useful as a decorating plant due to the shape and interesting greenish-white patches that make the plant look like someone splashed its leaves with bleach. 

The leaves are covered with fluffy, coarse hair that repels deer and other wild herbivorous animals.

#4. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Mountain Laurel

Other Names: Calico-bush, Spoonwood

Zones: 5 to 9

Mountain Laurel is a broad, evergreen, and slow-growing shrub. This shade-loving shrub has colorful and delightful flowers that bloom in May and June. During winter, flower inflorescence develops, expanding to a cluster of buds that grow and enlarge in springtime.

Mountain Laurel contains glycosides. Glycosides burns herbivores’ mouths and these act as a defense mechanism that prevents deer from feeding on the plants.

#5. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian Sage

Another Name: Salvia yangii

Zones: 4 to 9

Russian sage is a flowering, hardy perennial subshrub that needs little-to-no maintenance. Russian Sage is a resilient plant that does well even in harsh environments. It is a great companion plant because it has a distinctive heavy scent that attracts bees and hummingbirds but deters deers from consuming nearby plants.

#6. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)


Another Name: Salvia Rosmarinus

Zones: 7 to 10

Rosemary is a useful herb in the culinary world. It tastes good when mixed in salads or used to cook dishes (such as Rosemary Chicken). Rosemary is also a great source of calcium, vitamin B, and iron. It was traditionally used to help relieve muscle pain, boost the immune system, improve memory, and hair growth, and enhance blood circulation. As a mint, it is a deer repellant due to its fragrance.

#7. Daphne


Zones: 4 to 9

Daphne is a deciduous strongly-scented plant. They are distinctive due to their fragrance and dazzling colored berries. Be aware that all parts of a Daphne are poisonous, especially the berries. This aspect excludes it from the deer’s menu.

#8. Bluebeard (Caryopteris X clandonensis)


Zones: 5 to 9

Bluebeards are herbaceous plants of the flowering plant genus.

Often aromatic with extremely dark, shiny foliage, dense habit, and blue flowers. They are drought and heat-resistant. Bluebeards attract bees, butterflies, and Hummingbirds but they are not edible to bears. Bluebeard is a perennial that needs low maintenance.

#9. Common Box (Buxus sempervirens)

Common Box

Other Names: European box, Boxwood

Zones: 5 to 8

Boxwood is an evergreen shrub with numerous branches and broad leaves. It requires low maintenance and can thrive in almost any type of soil. Boxwoods are popular ornamental plants that create wonderful hedges. Boxwood is toxic to both humans and animals since it contains alkaloids – which are extremely poisonous, and causes liver damage. 

#10. Bergenia 


Common Name: Pigsquek (derived from the sound made when leaves are rubbed together)

Other Names: Elephant-eared saxifrage, Elephant’s ears

Zones: 3 to 8

They are thicket-forming, rhizomatous green perennials with leaves arranged in a spiral rosette. Bergenia have large, ovated, or heart-shaped, leather leaves, which make them both deer and rabbits repellent.

#11. Windflower (Anemone)


Zones: 5 to 9

The windflower name was derived from the plant’s habit of swaying even with the slightest breeze. The lifespan of the plant depends on the species. Some plants may live for decades others are short-lived.

Windflower contains a substance called protoanemonin which makes them moderately toxic when ingested in large quantities.

#12. Spireas (Aspire species)


Common Names: Meadowsweets, Steeple bushes.

Zones: 4 to 9

Spirea/Spiraea is a genus of about 80-100 species of shrubs from the Rosaceae family.

They are hardy deciduous shrubs with simple, short stalks arranged in a spiraling alternate design. Most Spirea species have lance-shaped leaves.

Deers tend to stay clear of poisonous, thorny, scented, or fuzzy plants.

Spireas have clumps of fuzzy flowers.

#13. Zinnias


Zones: 3 to 10

Zinnias are notable due to their unique long-stemmed flowers that grow in various bright colors.

They are annual, sub-shrubs and shrubs with differently-shaped (linear to ovate) stalkless leaves with colors ranging from dull-medium green.

Zinnia flowers appear differently; some have a single row of petals while others are dome-shaped. Deer hate the taste of Zinnia flowers. (Here are the different Types of zinnias.)

#14. Toad Lily 

Toad Lily

Zones: 4 to 9

Toad lily is a perennial that adds elegance to any shaded garden mostly at the beginning of blooming and even in the growing season. They have unique brightly colored flowers. The flowers come in yellow, soft pink, white or purple shades. Toad Lily’s beauty attracts bees and other birds. As a scented flower, the toad lily is deer resistant.

Final Thoughts on Dear Resistant Shade Plants

You can still have a thriving garden even if you live in an area prone to deer attacks. When you plant the right kind of plants, shrubs or flowers, you won’t have to worry about deer visiting your garden to eat the plants. The plants featured here are just a few you can consider growing in your garden to keep deer away. Find out what works in your zone and enjoy a beautiful, deer free garden. 

Various shade loving deer resistant plants and flowers.

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