UACES Facebook Deer
skip to main content

Deer Resistant Plants

Visit our page that goes in depth about deer resistant plants in Arkansas.

September 2012

QuestionI have deer or rodents eating my hosta, lantana, etc. What is the best way to get rid of them? I live in the woods of Bella Vista and have lots of wildlife around here, i.e., groundhogs, rabbits, deer, squirrels, fox, etc. I have lived here many, many years but this is the first year I have encountered this problem. Please help me save my plants!


AnswerDry weather can take away much of their natural food source, and deer may move into yards and gardens. Several options exist—deer fencing, electric fencing, and repellants. We do have a list of deer resistant plants  but the deer haven’t read it, and occasionally eat plants on the list, if they are desperate enough.

April 2012

QuestionI have a tall plant that is 4 or 5 years old. I think it is called a Photenia plant. It has purple looking shiny leaves. I saw several deer feeding on the plant early last fall and thought they had damaged it. Thus far this year, the plant seems to be dead, but has new growth springing up from the bottom. My question is this? The tree is about 6 ft. tall--do I need to cut the upper branches back to the new growth or leave them alone?


AnswerIf it is a red tip photenia, it is an evergreen plant. Having no foliage on the upper portion doesn’t bode well. You can try cutting all the dead out and see if there is enough life left in it to regrow. Photenias were the number one hedge plant in the south for the past 50 years, but have been declining due to disease problems. If they don’t come back, I would replant with a different plant.

July 2010

QuestionI live in the Village and have an empty lot next door with lots of little critters (bunnies, deer, etc). When planting last fall I found my Indiana remedies didn't quite work here in Arkansas as your deer and bunnies really like hot pepper (must be the southern in them). At any rate, this spring I began to use a deer repellent spray. Once the sprinklers had to be used daily, I discontinued the repellent. I use a hose to water plants the sprinklers don't reach -- and being the lazy gardener that I am, I refused to roll my "black hose" up every evening when done. Low and behold, the bunnies and deer have moved from the empty lot next door. My hosta garden is absolutely beautiful. Could they actually think my black hose is a snake?


AnswerI suppose it is possible, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it! Lots of people try using rubber snakes as a deterrent and after a few days, that doesn't work. But as I always say, if it isn't broke, don't fix it--but do stay diligent and watch for signs of animal encroachment. It could be the deer repellent that deterred them earlier and they just haven’t made it back.

March 2010

QuestionWhat are some, if any, evergreen flowers like gardenias that deer will leave alone?


AnswerDeer are definitely a problem in Arkansas gardens. We do have a list of deer resistant plants on our website, but if the deer get desperate for food, they occasionally eat some of these as well. Some flowering plants to try include: butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), forsythia, winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), leucothoe, Oregon grape holly (Mahonia), oleander, flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica) daphne, Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica), spireas, oakleaf hydrangea and mock orange – (Philadelphus sp.).      

February 2010

QuestionI transplanted some young nandinas and last summer something was eating the leaves. I suspected insects. However, just in the last week something has been eating tender stems off and even some branches of a young arborvitae. Would squirrels do this?


AnswerTo be honest, I have never known of anything to eat nandina's or arborvitaes (except bagworms for the latter). Squirrels, deer, raccoons, are among the possible culprits. If you notice new activity, sprinkle flour around the base of the plants and see if you can spot any tracks, then work on repelling or trapping them.

September 2006

QuestionI have a new home that is surrounded by woods. We have quite a few deer that we are feeding in the woods. I want to landscape the front of my house soon. Can you tell me any plants that deer are not interested in? The house will have northern exposure. The sun comes across the house so the front has sun most of the day.


AnswerWe do have a list of deer resistant plants that we can send you. However, one word of warning: if you are feeding the deer, you are encouraging them. As long as you continue to have food for them, they should be happy, but if it runs out they can wreak havoc on your landscape. If desperate enough, they can begin to feed on supposedly deer resistant plants. Boxwoods and yaupon hollies are two standard evergreen plants that they usually steer clear of. Others include buckeye, elaeagnus, abelia, nandina and aucuba. On the flip side, they love azaleas, hosta and daylilies, so you may want to avoid those.


All links to external sites open in a new window. You may return to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture web site by closing this window when you are finished. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information, or the accessibility for people with disabilities listed at any external site.

Links to commercial sites are provided for information and convenience only. Inclusion of sites does not imply University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's approval of their product or service to the exclusion of others that may be similar, nor does it guarantee or warrant the standard of the products or service offered.

The mention of any commercial product in this web site does not imply its endorsement by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture over other products not named, nor does the omission imply that they are not satisfactory.