17 Annuals That Resist Deer for Stunning Gardens or Vases

These deer-resistant annuals are colorful, easy-to-grow, and won’t appeal to foraging deer.

Lucky Peach Lantana
PHOTO: MARTY BALDWIN

Colorful, deer-resistant annuals are a good way to fill your summer gardens and vases. While deer will eat just about anything if they’re really hungry, they do have preferences. Some plants don’t interest them as much, especially plants with hairy or fuzzy leaves or that are strongly scented.

The following annual flowers and foliage plants fall into this deer resistant category (a few are perennial in warmer climates but are usually grown as annuals). Select some to fill your beds and container gardens for non-stop color from spring to fall and let the deer go somewhere else for dinner.

01
of 17

Calendula

calendula blossom
ANDY LYONS

Sometimes called pot marigold, calendula produces cheerful flowers in shades of cream, yellow, and orange. While the flowers are edible—they make a colorful addition to summer salads—deer don’t like the smell of the foliage, so they rarely bother the plant. Shorter varieties can be planted along walkways, the front of a bed, or in a mixed container. Taller varieties make attractive cut flowers.

Name: Calendula officinalis

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 1 to 3 feet tall, 1 to 2 feet wide

02
of 17

Spider Flower

Cleome Spider Flower
MATTHEW BENSON

Pink, purple, or white spider flowers attract lots of pollinators, but deer hate them. Their large flower clusters give a tropical look to the back of a bed. Flowers continually form at the tops of stems, and old flowers are followed by narrow seed pods that give the plant an interesting spidery look. They often re-seed themselves when conditions are favorable.

Name: Cleome hasslerianna

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: 1 to 5 feet tall, 1 to 3 feet wide

03
of 17

Ageratum

Close up of purple Ageratum
BRIE WILLIAMS

The fuzzy blooms of ageratum, sometimes called floss flower, add a soft texture to any planting. These non-stop blooming annuals come in shades of purple, pink, and white. They are easy-to-grow but a steady supply of moisture is important—they will wilt if they are allowed to dry out. While many selections are compact, perfect for edging a border, others are taller, and make lovely cut flowers.

Name: Ageratum houstonianum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: 6 to 36 inches tall, 6 to 18 inches wide

04
of 17

Annual Salvias

Salvia splendens 'Red Hot Sally'
PETER KRUMHARDT

There are several annual species of salvia that come in a range of flower colors including white, pink, red, purple, and blue and they all lure pollinators to your garden. The flowers appear all summer long in densely packed upright spikes. They are particularly striking when planted in masses or drifts. Compact selections add a bold splash of color to container gardens.

Name: Salvia coccinea, S. farinacea, S. splendens, S. patens

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 1 to 5 feet tall, 1 to 2 feet wide

05
of 17

Flowering Tobacco

nicotiana flowers
PETER KRUMHARDT

Flowering tobacco, also called jasmine tobacco, features clusters of fragrant white, pink, red, or purple flowers held on tall upright stems. While its jasmine-like scent is delightful, avoid planting these near nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and peppers because they are closely related and susceptible to the same viruses.

Name: Nicotiana alata

Growing Conditions: Part sun, full sun; moist, well-drained soil

Size: 3 to 5 feet tall, 1 to 2 feet wide

All parts of flowering tobacco are toxic if eaten by humans1 and animals2. No wonder deer leave it alone!

06
of 17

Snapdragon

detail of red snapdragon antirrhinum majus
LYNN KARLIN

Snapdragons thrive in the cooler weather of spring and fall, producing flowering stems that support small flowers in shades of white, pink, yellow, red, orange, and purple. Each blossom resembles a tiny dragon’s head. These flowers add a colorful vertical accent to a border and are fantastic for cutting. As temperatures rise in summer, these deer resistant annuals take a hiatus from blooming, but flowering often picks up again when temperatures cool in the fall.

Name: Antirrhinum majus

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 12 to 36 inches tall, 6 to 18 inches wide

Angelonia

angelmist dark plum angelonia
PETER KRUMHARDT

The small pink, purple, or white flowers of angelonia cover the bushy plant from early summer through fall and don’t require any deadheading. Flowers, which are often bi-colored, resemble small snapdragons. While it thrives with regular moisture, angelonia withstands both heat and periods of drought. It’s a great choice for container gardens or as an edging for beds.

Name: Angelonia angustifolia

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 12 to 18 inches tall and wide

08
of 17

Globe Amaranth

globe-amaranth-ccaeb6c9
PETER KRUMHARDT

Globe amaranth is a carefree deer-resistant annual that produces perky rounded flower heads non-stop throughout summer. It attracts butterflies, tolerates drought, and makes a colorful addition to borders and container gardens. The flowers are great for cutting fresh and for drying. For a bushier habit, pinch back the new growth of young plants.

Name: Gomphrena globosa

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 1 to 3 feet tall and wide

09
of 17

Wishbone Flower

Torenia 'Summer Wave Blue' and 'Summer Wave Large Violet'
PETER KRUMHARDT

Perennial in its native tropics, wishbone flower is typically grown as an annual. There are upright selections that form neat mounds in mixed beds, and trailing types that are delightful spilling out of container gardens or hanging baskets. Their dainty pink, purple, blue, or white flowers put on a steady show all summer long. It’s a veritable blooming machine.

Name: Torenia fournieri

Growing Conditions: Part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 6 to 16 inches tall, 6 to 24 inches wide

10
of 17

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum Lobularia 'Blushing Princess'
JUSTIN HANCOCK

Sweet alyssum is an old-fashioned plant that is usually grown as an annual, although it can sometimes grow as a short-lived perennial. They prefer cooler weather, blooming freely in spring and again in fall, usually taking a break during the heat of summer. They form a carpet-like ground cover with dainty white, pink, or purple flowers well suited to the front edge of a border.

Name: Lobularia maritima

Growing Conditions: Full sun, part sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 3 to 10 inches tall, 3 to 6 inches wide

11
of 17

Dusty Miller

dusty miller silver-leaf plant
MARTY BALDWIN

This carefree plant with silvery white leaves provides great contrast with brightly colored flowers and makes a stunning addition to beds and containers. Although perennial in warmer regions, dusty miller is typically grown as an annual. The fine-textured leaves serve as excellent filler in cut flower arrangements.

Name: Jacobaea maritima

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: 12 to 18 inches tall, 6 to 24 inches wide

This plant can be toxic to pets and humans3 and is quite unappealing to deer as well.

12
of 17

Lantana

Lucky Peach Lantana
MARTY BALDWIN

Although lantana is perennial in warm climates, it is commonly grown as an annual. It’s the perfect choice for a sun-filled, hot, dry location because its response to heat is to push out oodles of flowers that are arranged in delicate clusters and come in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, purple, and white, sometimes sporting multiple hues in a single cluster. Many selections have a trailing habit that’s perfect for spilling over the edge of a wall or container.

Name: Lantana camara

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 1 to 5 feet tall, 2 to 4 feet wide

Lantana is an invasive plant in California, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas.4 It grows and spreads rapidly in most regions. If you choose to include it in your garden, confine it in beds and deadhead it regularly.

13
of 17

Heliotrope

Heliotrope flowers
HELEN NORMAN

The delightful fragrance of heliotrope flowers makes them an ideal choice for a bed or container garden sited near a door or walkway, where you are most likely to appreciate them. Fortunately, deer generally dislike plants with intense fragrance, so they leave these elegant bloomers alone. Butterflies on the other hand, are attracted to the deep purple or blue flowers that appear in rounded clusters among quilted dark green leaves in summer and fall.

Name: Heliotropium arborescens

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 12 to 36 inches tall, 12 to 24 inches wide

Heliotrope is toxic to humans5 and horses6 when eaten in large quantities over an extended period of time.

14
of 17

Signet Marigold

Signet-Marigolds–Tagetes-tenuifolia
PETER KRUMHARDT

The strong aroma of marigold’s foliage is off-putting to deer, especially the signet types. At 12 to 18 inches tall, these are smaller in stature than the 2- to 3-foot African types but are more easily combined with other sun-loving plants in beds or container gardens. Their lacey foliage sets off the abundant single flowers that are yellow, orange, or red and are often two-toned. They appear from late spring until frost.

Name: Tagetes tenuifolia

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 8 to 20 inches tall and wide

Persian Shield

Strobilanthes dyeranus, Persian shield
DENNY SCHROCK

Persian shield has large, iridescent purple and silver leaves that can grow 6 to 8 inches long. It provides great color and textural contrast to brightly hued annual flowers both in beds and containers. They contrast well with yellow or orange marigolds or calendula. A site with dappled sun and lots of regular moisture is ideal, but if it’s too shady, leaves are less brilliantly colored and plants tend to flop over. To encourage a bushier plant and more foliage, pinch out the top of young plants.

Name: Strobilanthes dyerianus

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: 1 to 4 feet tall, 1 to 3 feet wide

16
of 17

Annual Black-eyed Susan

tiger eye rudbeckia black-eyed susan
DENNY SCHROCK

The yellow daisy-like flowers of annual black-eyed Susan light up a sunny garden, persisting through the heat of summer right into fall. They continue to bloom steadily, when many other flowering annuals have faded. Some selections sport dark brown centers while others have green centers. The petals may be yellow, gold, burgundy, or bi-colored. They are good choices for butterfly gardens, mixed borders, and large containers and they often self-sow, coming back year after year from seed. The coarse hairs on their leaves and stems make them deer resistant.

Name: Rudbeckia

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 1 to 3 feet tall and wide

17
of 17

Verbena

Burgundy Verbena
JUSTIN HANCOCK

Verbena bears clusters of tiny star-shaped flowers throughout summer and into fall, attracting a wide variety of pollinators to your garden. Selections may be mounding or trailing. They are easy to grow as long as they get lots of sun (at least 8 hours) and regular watering. Cascading varieties are terrific additions to window boxes, hanging baskets, and patio containers where they can spill over the edge. This drought tolerant plant is perennial in warm climates but is usually grown as an annual.

Name: Verbena x hybrida

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 6 to 12 inches tall, 12 to 18 inches wide

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