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Deer Resistant Flowers in Colorado

I have spoken to a lot of people lately. Gardners, friends and strangers alike who are all asking me "What do deer really not like?" Well let's talk about deer resistant flowers here in the Colorado High Desert, specifically.

A good question. Some of them have been mislead by people who work at local nurseries no less. But it's okay. It's a hard question. Deer like a ton of different plants and in different areas they will eat different things.

Let me explain - in town deer might have more access to a wide variety of shrubs and flowers that they like as well as lawns that offer good greens. Further in town there's more pressure from people and pets - so they might not linger in one garden as long as they do in the country where it's a little farther between gardens.

Light Bright Sunflower - Loved by Deer

But it's a darn shame when you go to the nursery for deer resistant flowers and they tell you to plant sunflowers (true story). Deer LOVE sunflowers. I've planted crop rows of sunflowers where, maybe a day before harvest when the blooms are still closed but just about ready for harvest, and the deer come in in one night and chomp their sweet precious blooms clean off the stalk. Tears. I'm telling you.

ESPECIALLY my light bright sunflowers, like the one pictured here.

So to the point in my 5 seasons of flower growing in Southwest Colorado, abundant with Mule Deer, these are the Deer Resistant Flowers that I have learned to be true - through and through, along with a few rules of thumb when picking out flowers in a garden center.

A patch of zinnia flowers that deer will not touch.
Deer Resistant Zinnias







-Sage (culinary varieties & Russian)


-Bachelor Buttons

-Bells of Ireland









-Butterfly Bush


-Dusty Miller




-Panicle Hydrangea



-Clary Sage (a cut flower variety)

-Ammi/Queen Anne's Lace

-Green Mist





1-It's important to note some places will say Peonies are deer resistant. Not true. I've had them eat all of mine before. No fun. Certain varieties they will eat, others they won't care for. If you want to save their blooms sprinkle a deer resistant pellet or blood bone meal regularly around the plants to ward off the deer.

2- Herbs tend to deter deer. Like the lavender, yarrow and sage. Plant these intermittently throughout your garden or near deer tempting plants to deter them.

3- Always play it safe. Get a fence, get a deer alarm (amazon has these), or I'm going to be trying a fun parking lot wiggly air dancing thing - I have no idea what they are actually called! Ha! Also on amazon. Deer don't like movement in the garden. Having one of these on at night - I'm hoping will be a powerful scarecrow! We will see. We are also getting a higher fence. The deer recked havoc last season in the garden.

4- Plant near and dear to your heart plants in your most protected area. It's not worth the risk to put them in an easy to get to spot for deer.

Deer, Sunflowers
Deer Love Sunflowers

PLANTS DEER LOVE (and a few will surprise you):

-Roses! Roses! Roses! (and they'll eat them the second before they bloom).

-Delphinium (even though they are toxic! They love these and a few other flowers that are toxic to us.)


-Sweet peas (likewise shocked for their toxicity level, but a few critters will eat these)


-Smaller Dahlias

-Lisianthus (I've had them munch several of these off)


-Tulips (they really love these)





-Remaining Hydrangea Varieties

-Feverfew (I've had them munch away many of my feverfew....)

-Ive Vines


-Potato Vines

-Berries (a lot of good foliage comes from berry plants. Deer especially love blueberries)

Deer will eat sweet peas. Just the blooms.
I've had many sweet pea flower heads taken by deer.

Did I miss any?? What has been the favorite treat in your garden/yard by the deer?

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