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  • Writer's pictureDarcy Morehouse

Oh Deer! (Usually) Deer-Resistant Perennials

Any native Adirondacker can tell you, if deer get hungry enough, they'll eat the siding off of your house. Although no plants are completely deer proof, there are a few go-to perennials that are deer RESISTANT. They're like the candy corn of the party. The deer aren't going to go for it as soon as they walk in the room, but if it's the only thing left, they'll choke it down.

So with that disclaimer in mind, here are a few of our favorite perennials that happen to be some of deer's least favorite.



Astilbe, also known as False Spirea, is one of the easiest and most versatile perennials. It can grow in sun or shade, produces these really cool feathery flowers, and requires pretty much zero maintenance. They are usually seen in a deep magenta color, but you can find them in lots of different shades, like purple, light pink, and this gorgeous hot pink baby pictured here. Not only are they deer resistant, but they are rabbit resistant too!


Ooh baby, I love Columbine. There are a bajillion different varieties, and every single one of them is just so super cool. They're spiky and layered and come in every color imaginable. They're super easy to grow, and you can even find some wild ones around here, if you look carefully on your next hike.


I just discovered Silvermound last year, and now I'm hooked. I love the shape, the color, AND LOOK HOW FLUFFY! It feels exactly like it looks. I can't walk past a Silvermound without squishing it. It's a problem.


Kyle has now bought Clematis for my mother, sister, and at least three friends. He went through a spree this spring where he would see a variety, fall in love, HAVE to buy it (of course), and then figure out later where it was going to go. I think we're up to eight Clematis plants at our house, although it's very possible (probable) that he has another couple stashed somewhere.

It's ridiculous. But also, I kinda can't blame the guy, they're stunning. And there are just so many different varieties. There are big showy flowers, spring bloomers, fall bloomers, and wispy 4-petaled beauties. I'm partial to the smaller blooms with multiple layers and contrasting colors. They can be a little delicate when they're young, but an established plant can climb a house and cover it in a stunning burst of color.


Dianthus is a lovely little plant with pretty silvery foliage that explodes into color when it blooms in the late spring to early summer. Deadheading the spent flowers will keep it blooming through the summer. They're easy to grow and can handle heat and drought. I don't know why deer don't like them, because they look delicious. Like candy.

Bee Balm

Bee balm is like a triple threat - It's easy to grow, native to the Adirondacks, awesome for pollinators, and it's deer resistant. Okay, that's four things. Oh, it's also been called Oswego Tea, because indigenous Americans living near Oswego used it to make an herbal tea from it. I've loved bee balm since I was a little kid and would find the spiky flowers growing prolifically in the creekbed next to my grandparents cabin.


Now I just have to nail down which plants are CHICKEN resistant... These ladies are tearing up my beds!

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