18 Rabbit- and Deer-Resistant Flowers and Plants You Can Grow in Your Garden (Without Getting Gobbled Up)

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Everything was going so well in your garden…until your uninvited guests showed up and ate everything. While you wouldn’t mind if the deer and rabbits just came to admire your flowers, it’s not so nice when they make your backyard an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you’re not sure who’s to blame, deer have no upper incisors, so plants will have torn, ragged edges; also, they feed from ground up to about 6 feet high. Meanwhile, bunnies leave round droppings and chew off plants at a clean, sharp angle up to about 18 inches from ground level.

So, how do you keep wildlife from gobbling up your garden? Unfortunately, the truth is if there’s a large population of animals in an area or they’re just plain hungry enough, they’ll eat anything— with or without repellants. But while there’s no such thing as a “deer-proof” or “rabbit-proof” plant, these animals generally don’t like plants with strong scents or fuzzy or leathery leaves and stems.

If you’re tired of sharing your hard work with the wildlife in your neighborhood, try adding these less tasty but still gorgeous, rabbit- and deer-resistant plants to your garden, and read on for

20 Summer Flowers That Can Boost Your Curb Appeal

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants salvia
By Eve Livesey/Getty Images

1. Salvia

The fragrant foliage of this perennial often deters deer, but its beautiful flowers attract plenty of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Salvia also is found as an annual, so read the tag to be sure what you’re buying.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants dusty miller
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2. Dusty Miller

The fuzzy texture of this plant isn’t particularly appealing to wildlife, but its silvery color is the ideal complement to other annuals in mixed borders or containers.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants catmint
AlpamayoPhoto/Getty Images

3. Catmint

The spicy-minty scent of this perennial usually keeps deer and rabbits away. The foliage has a pretty bluish tint, and the lavender flowers bloom for many weeks.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants abelia
By Eve Livesey/Getty Images

4. Abelia

This elegant shrub blooms from summer to fall with fragrant flowers that bees and hummingbirds love. Its arching habit makes it a lovely planting for perennial beds and along walks, so you can enjoy its scent.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants calendula
Ekaterina Kaznacheeva/EyeEm/Getty Images

5. Calendula

This cheerful bright yellow or orange annual has scented foliage that deer and rabbits tend to ignore. It’s easy to grow from seed, too.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants bee balm
skhoward/Getty Images

6. Bee Balm

The bright pink, purple or red blooms of this perennial attracts tons of pollinators for most of the summer. But its minty-scented foliage is not tasty to most deer and rabbits.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants sweet alyssum
Pinrath Phanpradith/Getty Images

7. Sweet Alyssum

This honey-scented annual isn’t appealing to deer or rabbits. It looks amazing draping out of baskets and containers or in rock gardens and along walkways.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants lamb s ears
Jill King/EyeEm/Getty Images

8. Lamb’s Ears

The velvety-soft wooly texture of this perennial is not appealing to your hungry visitors. It’s perfect in rock gardens or in perennial beds.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants ferns
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9. Ferns

Ferns are a great option for shade gardens, and they come in so many different textures and colors. They’re typically not a favorite of deer and rabbits.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants allium
Clive Nichols/Getty Images

10. Allium

Allium is an ornamental onion, so your garden visitors will steer clear of its scented foliage. Plant the bulbs in late fall for a late spring bloom the following year.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants herbs
uuurska/Getty Images

11. Herbs

Most herbs, with their pungent scents, are not at all appealing to your hungry garden visitors. And herbs that are left to flower attract loads of pollinators, too. Try a mixed container or garden bed of chives, sage, parsley, basil and thyme. Bonus: You’ve got fresh herbs for all your favorite summer dishes.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants artemesia
Anchy/Getty Images

12. Artemesia

This lacey-looking perennial has fuzzy silvery foliage deer and rabbits don’t like. It doesn’t mind heat, humidity and drought once established.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants cranesbill
Massimo Ravera/Getty Images

13. Cranesbill

Also known as perennial geranium, the foliage of this plant has a strong, distinctive aroma. The beautiful flowers in shades of pink, red and purple-blue rise above the foliage in late spring to early summer.

rabbits and deer resistant flowers and plants russian sage
JoolsBerlin/Getty Images

14. Russian Sage

Aromatic foliage and a slightly fuzzy texture means this perennial isn’t a favorite on the buffet. The pretty spikes of purple flowers, however, are loved by pollinators!

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants chrysanthemum
Grace Cary/Getty Images

15. Chrysanthemum

These harbingers of autumn have a distinctive aroma that most deer and rabbits avoid. It’s perennial if planted early in the season. If planted in the fall, the roots won’t get established before the ground freezes, so treat it as an annual and plant new mums next year.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants lavender
Olivia Bell Photography/Getty Images

16. Lavender

The scented foliage and flowers keep away most hungry critters. Plant in swaths for the most dramatic effect, or use containers if you’re short on space.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants daffodils
Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images

17. Daffodils

Daffodils are another bulb that deer and rabbits leave alone. This time, it’s because the leaves are poisonous. Plant in the fall for spring blooms.

rabbit and deer resistant flowers and plants astilbe
LordRunar/Getty Images

18. Astilbe

Astilbe has pretty, feathery flowers that are quite eye-catching in the garden. But they’re not a first choice for deer and rabbits due to its frothy texture.

Wait—Can’t I Just Use Repellants to Keep Deer and Rabbits Away?

You can try spraying repellants containing capsaicin or putrescent eggs on plants (yes, it stinks like rotten eggs), but repellants aren't perfect. It doesn’t hurt to give them a try, but research has found they’re effective only about half the time. Ditto for homemade remedies such as bars of soap, hair or other strange concoctions, such as coyote pee (not the most appealing fragrance, for sure).

If you do decide to try a commercial repellant, follow the label. Some have to be reapplied frequently, after it rains and as new growth emerges. They’re also better as deterrents before you start seeing damage, not once the animals have decided your yard has all the tastiest selections.

purewow author

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...