Nothing can be as frustrating as finding wild animals, such as audacious deer feeding on your annual plants.
Many forest areas are home to thousands of deers who frequently visit your garden to munch on your healthy plants.
Therefore, the key is to grow deer-resistant annuals to repel these innocent predators from your garden.
Fortify your garden with deer-resistant annuals such as flowers with strong odor and plants with unpleasant texture or toxins, including Begonias, Spider flower, Dahlias, Lantana, Marigolds, and more.
Dealing with deer repellant products may help in the short term, but it would not prevent them from eating your plants altogether.
Read on to find out some of the best choices of annuals that will decorate your garden and effectively keep deer away.
Table of Contents Show
- Are Petunias Deer Resistant?
- 15 Best Deer-Resistant Annuals
- Tips to Protect Plants from Deer
Are Petunias Deer Resistant?
No, Petunias are not deer resistant.
These popular flowering succulents are abundant in many warm regions, home to white-tailed deer, mule deer, and black-tailed deer.
Unfortunately, deer are fond of succulents and may find Petunias delicious enough to devour, especially in spring when the flowers begin to bloom.
The Petunia blossoms and stems are incredibly moist, which may entice deer to munch on them.
None of the Petunia plant parts are known to be poisonous; hence, predators like deer will freely herd on them.
However, you can quickly prevent it by growing them at higher heights or surrounding them with deer-resistant annuals.
15 Best Deer-Resistant Annuals
Remember, deer would munch on anything that may look green and fleshy.
Therefore, the key is to grow deer-resistant annuals that will keep the animal away using their smell, taste, or toxins.
Deers stay away from blooming flowers and scented plants that draw pollinators like bees.
Fortunately, many annual plants that are resistant to deer do well in gardens.
Here are a few deer-resistant annual plant recommendations based on their USDA zone, growth habit, and flowering behavior.
1. Floss Flower
Floss flower (Ageratum Haustonianum) is an annual that produces clusters of lavender-blue blossoms every spring until fall.
However, they may also come in various colors, ranging from blue, pink, white, and purple blossoms with a toothed set of leaves.
Deer and other large animals tend to avoid Floss flowers in their diets. A deer would avoid it due to its bright flowers and delightful scent.
It would help if you grew them as the bordering plants to prevent deer from walking into your garden.
They are best suited for a warm climate, usually in USDA zone 10 to 11, and thrive in full to partial sun.
Expect to see an Ageratum reaching about 36 inches tall at maturity, but provide a loamy clay soil with a neutral pH level to keep them thriving.
2. Polka Dot Plant
As the name suggests, Polka Dot (Hypoestes Phyllostachys) boasts tiny, brightly variegated leaves that look eye-catching.
Foraging animals like deer and rabbits will find these plants overwhelming and avoid feeding on them.
According to the research done by Cornell University ,Polka Dot plants are “non-invasive, non-aggressive, and deer resistant.”
It is often grown as the annual outdoor plants or indoor perennials in temperate to warm regions such as zones 10 to 11.
Remember to bring them inside in winter and replant them in spring to prevent frost threats.
You also need to keep the plant away from children and pets to prevent a bitten and unkempt-looking plant.
When provided with 50% humidity and temperature above 60°F, the Polka dot plant will reach a height of 30 inches and boast vibrant leaves size of two inches.
3. Dusty Miller
Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria), also known as silver dust, is an annual bedding plant that will decorate your garden edges.
Although a perennial subshrub in its native Mediterranean region, it is often chosen to be grown as the annuals.
Deer may find munching on its leaves unappetizing; therefore, they are best grown on the garden edges to repel the animals.
Dusty Miller is mainly grown for its silvery-gray foliage, which has a felt-like coating that keeps deer away.
If you are wondering, it thrives in USDA zones 8 to 11 with a warm temperature and full sun or partial shade to reach 8 inches tall.
The soft fuzzy leaves will grow 3 to 6 inches tall and 3 inches wide.
4. Wax Begonia
Wax Begonia is a common bedding plant used in garden landscaping. It boasts fuzzy or waxy stems with ever-blooming flowers in a shade of pink, red, or white.
There are thousands of Begonia species, and not all are deer resistant.
Always grow large leaf Begonia, such as angel Wing Begonia, which is most deer resistant.
The small leafed Begonia can easily be plucked right off the ground by deer.
Provide your Begonias with warm weather with temperatures around 70 to 75°F and humidity levels around 50% to witness their healthy growth.
5. Sweet Alyssum
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), also referred to as Sweet Alison, is a common flowering annual that will beautify your garden.
It boasts low-growing stature with tons of tiny blooms colored in white, pink, and purple, mainly used to cover the garden.
The colorful blossoms and fragrant scent of Sweet Alyssum will help keep deer from entering the garden and nibbling on other plants.
It thrives in USDA zones 5 to 9 with a temperate climate.
Consider bordering Sweet Alyssum around your flower beds before spring and provide full sun to inhibit healthy growth.
6. Sweet Basil
Sweet Basil is a herbaceous plant mainly used as a culinary herb and grown outdoors in full sun.
An annual shrub can be grown around the garden before spring to yield delicious basil leaves for the kitchen.
Deers do not feed on Sweet basil because of its pungent smell. The green leaves also contain thymol, an irritant that may repel deer and small animals from munching on the bushes.
Provide your Sweet Basil with a warm temperature of 50 to 80°F, full sun, and a humidity level of around 40 to 60% to witness a bushier growth that will reach about 12 to 24 inches in height.
7. Spider Flower
Spider Flower (Cleome spp.) is an annual flowering shrub that will grow as a tall plant with colorful blossoms in white, yellow, magenta, or pink colors.
The best time to grow a Spider Flower is in early spring as it usually blossoms in summer and stops in fall.
Spider Flower contains a bioactive compound that helps repel deer and small animals from nibbling on it.
The plant’s spiky stem and pungent-smelling flowers also make it deer and other predators resistant.
Moreover, you can grow them in the USDA zone from 2 to 11 in full sun and temperate climate.
Cosmos (Cosmos Spp.) is one of the annual flowering species originally from the scrublands of Southern USA.
It is widely grown in warmer regions for its extensive and daisy-like blossoms.
Predators like deer will avoid this showy plant for its heavy blooms and scent. The orange Cosmos, in particular, is more resistant to deers.
They are pretty easy to care for and germinate. In fact, they will grow within 7 to 21 days and start blossoming within 50 to 60 days.
You can widely plant them in USDA zones 2 to 11 with temperate to warm climates.
You may be interested to read about; Cosmos Flower Meaning and Symbolism
9. Mexican Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia Rotundifolia) is a rich flowering annual belonging to the Heliantheae family, which is widely cultivated in Mexico and Southwestern US.
You would know them by their brightly colored daisy-like blossoms on thick stems that grow every year in summer until fall and reach 3 inches across.
They grow best in USDA zone 2 to 11 with full sun and attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds.
However, Mexican Sunflowers do not attract deer. The large animals will not fathom these sunny flowers and hairy leaves.
10. Mexican Marigold
Mexican Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii), also known as Lemmon’s Marigold, is a flowering annual native to North America. They will do best in USDA zones 8 to 11.
It boasts bright yellow flowers with broad petals that resemble daisies and emit a pungent smell.
In fact, the smell is so strong that it repels not just large predators like deers but also harmful bugs like mosquitos and green flies.
You can grow them around the garden as the bordering plants to repel all kinds of predators from the rich vegetation.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus) is an annual flowering species known for its peppery-tasting flower and leaves.
A sun-loving annual boasts orbicular leaves with bright orange, red, and yellow flowers that look great in any garden.
Nasturtium also emits a musky scent in mustard flavor which will repel deer and small animals.
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station considers them moderately deer-resistant plants.
Moreover, they will thrive in USDA zones 2 to 11 with full sun but hardly attain a height of one foot (30 cm) and width of 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm).
Dahlia is a beautiful flowering annual bush that brightens up any garden. They blossom from midsummer through fall and come up in a rainbow of colors and sizes.
You could tell them by their petite 2 inches lollipop-style to giant 15 inches blossoms.
Due to the scent of Dahlias, deers typically favor eating other plants over Dahlias.
However, Dahlias are not completely deer-proof; deers will eat them if food is scarce.
Use caution when planting them, and add a level to keep them away from deer, rabbits, and groundhogs.
Moreover, the plant thrives in 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight and attains a height of 1 to 6 feet.
13. Blanket Flower
Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia) are a flowering species that gives out a cluster of richly colored, daisy-like flowers.
They are known as Blanket Flowers because their blossoms act as flower beds in the garden, but they are not invasive species.
The bold Blanket Flower attracts pollinators but repels predators like deer and other wild animals.
A mature Blanket Flower would reach 24 to 36 inches in height and 24 inches wide.
Care to provide full sun and warm temperature ranging between 50 to 65°F.
14. African Marigold
African Marigold (Tagetes Erecta), also known as Aztec Marigold and cempazúchitl or cempasúchil, is a flowering species native to Mexico.
They grow bright orange flowers and emit a strong fragrance that repels many predators, including deer.
You can widely grow them in USDA zones 2 to 12 with full sun to attract many different pollinators.
Expect to witness a plant from 1 to 4 feet tall (30 to 120 cm) blooming throughout summer and fall.
15. Painted Tongue
Painted Tongue (Salpiglossis Sinuata) is a lovely flowering annual that comes in striking shades of yellow, red, blue, or orange, and purple and violet.
You could identify them with their large flowers and the intricate and interlaced petals resembling a painted human tongue!
Painted Tongue flowers attract many pollinators and repel animals like deer and rabbits.
Deers are not fond of sticky stems, so Painted Tongue’s sticky stems (like those of Mimulus) make it resistant to them.
First introduced in 1820, it is often grown in the warm region, particularly in USDA zones 10 or above.
Furthermore, ensure to provide full sun or partial shade to witness a 3 feet tall (90 cm) plant.
Tips to Protect Plants from Deer
Deer are fervent eaters of human-grown vegetation because they are attracted to the nutrient-rich plants fertilized throughout spring and summer.
Therefore, keeping them away from your garden may seem daunting, but not impossible.
Along with growing deer-repelling annuals, you can try a different method to keep predators away from your plants.
Here are a few proven tips.
1. Add a Garden Fence
Fencing your garden with a strong metal fence will repel deer and small animals that feed on the garden plants.
Consider adding a bunch of straight fences with a height of 8 feet to keep deer away.
Otherwise, you can introduce a cross-chained fence about 6 feet tall to keep both tall and small animals away.
If you are setting up an electric fence, care to use a single strand that is at least 30 inches away from the ground.
However, remember to flag it with a tape or poly tape to make deer aware before approaching.
2. Grow Fuzzy and Repellant Plants
Another way to prevent deer from munching on your garden is to grow fuzzy and repellant plants such as deer-repellant annuals and perennials.
You could tell the fuzzy plants by rubbing the leaves on your skin to sense the tiny hairs that feel itchy.
Most deer will stay away from these plants.
3. Use Invisible Nets
Covering the garden borders with a black mesh net will keep most predators away from your flowers.
Start with installing a garden post in different locations and attach a black mesh net that will look invisible from far but distracting from the close.
However, ensure to use a net at least 8 feet tall to keep tall animals away.
4. Use Deer Repelling Products
You can prepare homemade deer repellants or market-brought chemicals to keep the deer away.
Tying clothes with fabric softener, fragrant soap, pepper spray, or a mixture of garlic and egg may help keep deer away.
Otherwise, use deer repellant spray, which can be sprayed around the garden to keep the deer away without damaging the plants.
Large predators like deer are easily attracted to garden plants because they are easy to scavenge.
Therefore, the key is to make them less exciting or desirable by growing deer repellant plants or other preventive measures.
Growing deer-repellant plants may be the best option because they are less likely to hamper the deer and other animals physically.