Deer Resistant Annuals & Perennials for the Midwest

As gardeners, we are always looking for annuals and perennials that deer won’t eat!

Deer can be one of the most voracious pests in the yard and garden.

Although there aren’t any “deer-proof” plants, there are flowers that they will only eat as a last resort.

Annuals and perennials that have scented foliage, textured leaves, thorns, or sap in the stem are much less appealing.

If you live in an area with a high deer population, the following plants will have a good chance of escaping deer damage.

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Pink zinnias
Zinnias are beautiful and deer-resistant

25 Deer Resistant Annuals:

Click each plant name to see more photos!

  1. Amaranthus (Amaranthus spp.)
Red Amaranthus plant

Amaranthus is mostly known as a foliage plant with unique color variegations.

A few varieties have unique hanging pendant flowers.

They grow best in full sun to bring out all leaf colors and to promote blooming.



2. Angelonia

4 Angelonia plants in Proven Winners pots

Angelonia are often called summer snapdragon. 

They are available in a myriad of colors and heights.

Since they have a spike-type flower shape, they are ideal as a focal flower in a container.

They grow best in full sun.

3 Ageratum

Violet Ageratum flowers in a pot

Ageratum is one of the few blue flowers.

It’s also available with white and pink flowers.

Ageratum plants grow best in full sun in well-drained soil.



4. Calendula

Calendula flowers in yellow and orange

Calendula are known for their cheery, bright blooms.

They thrive in full sun.

When grown organically, the flowers are edible and therefore are often planted next to vegetables and herbs.


5. Cleome

White, pink, and purple Cleome flowers growing outside

Cleome has a unique airy flower on a sturdy plant with lacy foliage.

Available in flower colors of white, pink, and purple, these beauties can get 24 to 48 inches tall.

They are easy to grow and tolerate heat well.


6. Diamond Frost Euphorbia

4 pots of Diamond Frost Euphorbia plants
Diamond Frost Euphorbia


Diamond frost Euphorbia has light, airy flowers that make it very popular in container gardening.

It grows best in full sun but can tolerate some shade.

Diamond frost Euphorbia needs well-draining soils and will tolerate dry conditions.

Rabbit-resistant too!


7. Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller Plant
Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller is grown for its silvery-gray foliage.

The leaves provide a unique color and texture in the garden.

Dusty Miller is also a great accent plant for container plantings.

It grows best in full sun but can tolerate some shade.

8. Forget-Me-Not

Blue Forget-me-not flower
Forget-Me -Nots

The most widely known color is blue but they are available in white and pink.

These often self-seed from year to year so they may seem like a perennial.

Forget-me-nots grow best in partial shade.

9. Four O’Clock (Mirabilis spp.)

Various colors of Four-o'clock flowers
Four O’Clock

Four O’Clocks are known for their trumpet-shaped flowers that open late in the afternoon each day.

They are ideal for full-sun areas that have poor soil and tend to be dry.

Hummingbirds are attracted to their flowers as well as many pollinators.

There are many different varieties available in a myriad of colors and heights.


10. Heliotrope

Purple Heliotrope Flower

Heliotrope has showy, fragrant flowers.

They grow best in full sun and well-drained soil.

However, in hot climates, it can be planted in areas that receive some afternoon shade.


11. Globe Amaranth

Close up view of white, pink, purple Globe Amaranth flowers
Globe Amaranth

Globe amaranth makes a great annual bedding plant and a cut flower.

They are grown and used as dried flowers.

Globe amaranth is easy to grow and tolerate dry, poor soils and heat.

They also attract butterflies.

A great choice for the beginner cut flower gardener.


12. Lantana

Red Lantana Flowers

Lantana is well-known for its heat tolerance and ability to thrive in almost any sunny location.

They can be grown in containers or as a ground cover.

Lantanas attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and pollinators making them ideal for any backyard living space.

Flowers are available in a rainbow of colors

13. Marigold

Multi-Colored Marigold Flowers

Marigolds are a consistent performer in a sunny garden.

They are reliable bloomers, and their scent is known to be distasteful to deer and rabbits.

Therefore they are often planted around vegetable gardens.

Marigolds are available in many different shades of cream, yellow, orange, and red.

There are also short, medium, and taller varieties to fit any spot in the garden.

Grow in full sun for best performance.

14. Morning Glory

Blue Morning Glory Flowers
Morning Glory

Morning glory vines brighten a trellis, light pole, or arbor.

Although they are available in other colors, their distinct blue color makes them identifiable from a distance.

These plants grow quickly and may re-seed from year to year.

They grow best in full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade.

15. Nasturtium

Orange and yellow nasturtium flowers

Nasturtium can be directly sown in the garden by seed.

They grow quickly and are often planted in the vegetable garden as the flowers and buds are edible.

Nasturtium plants can attract aphids which may seem like a detriment, but they grown specifically as a host plant to keep aphids away from other plants in the garden.

They grow best in full sun.

There are low-growing bush varieties as well as vining varieties.

16. Nicotiana

Red, white, and pink nicotiana flowers

Nicotiana is available in a myriad of colors.

It grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Nicotiana has showy, fragrant flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

They may self-seed each year.

17. Salvia

Red salvia flowers growing in a large flower bed

Salvia’s showy flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

They grow best in full sun.

Cultivars are available in pink, blue, orange, white, and bicolor.


18. Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)

Close-up of Snow on the Mountain plant

A plant that is very tolerant of dry, poor soils.

Rabbits tend to avoid this plant as well.

Snow-on-the-mountain can self-seed each year and may be considered invasive in some states.

 Some people have skin sensitivities to plants in the Euphorbia family, so wear gloves when handling this plant.

19. Strawflower

Multi-colored strawflowers

Popular as a fresh-cut flower and dried flower.

Strawflowers grow best in full sun with well-drained soil.

They tolerate drought and heat conditions well.

20. Snapdragon


Snapdragons can be grown as a garden flower and a fresh-cut flower.

They like full sun but generally don’t do well in heat.

Snapdragons attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Consider pinching the plants when they are young to promote bushy plants.


21. Sweet Alyssum

white sweet alyssum
Sweet Alyssum

Ideal as a groundcover, hanging baskets, or containers.

The fragrant flowers attract pollinators.

In addition to white, flowers are available in pink and purple.

Sweet alyssum grows best in full sun.

22. Vinca

Pink, Purple, and white vinca

Vinca’s cheery flowers are available in many different shades of pink, purple, and white.

They grow best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Their glossy green leaves are also striking in the landscape.

23. Zinnia

Pastel Zinnia flowers

A garden favorite, the zinnia is available in many different varieties.

Different heights and flower colors make them a great fit in almost any garden with full sun.

They make a great fresh-cut flower.

24. Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia spp.)

White Angel's Trumpet Plant in a pot on a deck
Angel’s Trumpet

A shrub-like annual with showy, fragrant flowers.

These are often overwintered indoors as a houseplant.

Grow in full sun for lots of blooms.

25. Anise

Annual Anise is an herb that can be grown from seed.

White flowers produce seeds that have a licorice flavor that can be used in baking.

Anise leaves are edible in salads.


50 Deer Resistant Perennials, Ground Covers & Bulbs

Click each plant name to see a photo!

  1. Agastache
Yellow and Orange Agastache flowers

Available in many different flower colors.

The plants are best grown in full sun but may tolerate some shade.

Agastache also tolerates drought and poor soil conditions.

Attracts butterflies.

2. Astilbe

White, Red, and pink Astilbe flowers

Ideal for shade gardens.

Available in many colors and heights.

Rabbits also tend to avoid Astilbe.

Astilbe grows best in well-drained soil that doesn’t dry out.


3. Autumn Crocus

Purplish-pink flowers of Autumn Crocus.
Autumn Crocus

Autumn crocus are corms that are planted in August and then produce purplish-pink flowers in fall.

The corms overwinter and produce leaves in the spring that subsequently turn yellow and die back in summer.

The flowers appear in fall without leaves.


4. Barrenwort (Epipedium)

A very low-maintenance, easy-to-grow ground cover that will tolerate shade and most soil conditions.

It’s ideal for erosion control and rocky soil.

In addition to deer resistance, rabbits generally don’t eat it either.


5. Basket-of-Gold (Aurinia saxatilis)

Yellow Basket-of-Gold Flowers

Basket-of-gold is an ideal ground cover in full sun environments with average to poor soil conditions.

It’s very tolerant of dry, sandy soils.

However, avoid growing this plant in clay or soils that don’t drain well.


6. Bellflower (Campanula spp.)

Perennial Campanula grows best in northern climates where there isn’t extreme summer heat.

They prefer the morning sun with some afternoon shade. 

They must have consistent moisture and prefer not to dry out.


7. Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’) (this can be invasive, so use in confined areas)

Bishops weed plant
Bishop’s Weed


Bishop’s weed is a ground cover that grows well in sun, shade, and part shade areas.

It’s also tolerant of most soil conditions and will spread quickly.

As noted above, this ground cover can spread quickly and is considered invasive in some states.


8. Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan Flowers
Black-Eyed Susan


9. Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spp,)

Red and white Bleeding heart flowers
Bleeding Heart

Bleeding hearts grow best in shady or partly shady locations with moist soil that drains well.

Soil rich in humusy material will provide the best environment for their growth.

Rabbit-resistant too!

10. Bugleweed (Ajuga spp.)

Bugleweed is a groundcover that grows best in full sun but adapts to shade.

It’s tolerant of black walnut trees and is one of the few plants that will grow underneath them.

Rabbit-resistant too.


11. Catmint (Nepeta racemosa)


Catmint is a great choice for dry soil conditions.

It will tolerate some heat but prefers shade in the afternoon.

There are new improved varieties that make this plant more suitable for the home landscape.

Rabbit-resistant too! 

12. Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)

Miscellaneous colored Christmas rose in bloom
Lenten Rose (Helleborus)

Lenten Rose blooms in late winter or early spring.

Ideal for areas in heavy to part shade, dry, or rocky soil.

Because they bloom so early, plant in a location where they can be seen from indoors.

13. Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)

Columbine flowers in various colors

Columbine grows well in a partly sunny location with moist, well-draining soil.

It attracts hummingbirds and pollinators.

Also rabbit-resistant.

14. Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp,)

Yellow columbine flowers growing outside

Coreopsis grows best in full sun with well-draining soil.

However, they will tolerate dry soil conditions.

Coreopsis attract butterflies and are also rabbit-resistant.


15. Daffodil

Yellow daffodil flowers

Daffodils are bulbs planted in the fall that bloom in the spring.

There are many different varieties with unique flower colors.

Daffodils can be planted in either shade or full-sun locations with soil that drains well.


16. Delphinium

Blue delphinium flowers

Delphinium grows best in a full-sun location that receives some afternoon shade.

Plant in soil that drains well but stays moist.

It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. 

An excellent cut flower.

17. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Close-up of English Ivy leaves
English Ivy

English ivy is a vining, evergreen ground cover that can quickly cover a large area.

It thrives in full shade and dry conditions.

English ivy may be considered invasive in some areas due to its aggressive growth.

18. False Indigo (Baptisia australis)

Blue False Indigo Flowers
False Indigo

False indigo will grow in almost any kind of soil- clay, dry, rocky, etc.

It tolerates drought as well.

The flowers are showy and attract butterflies.

19. Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon ferns are ideal for shady to partly shady locations with moist soil.

They are one of the few plants that will grow beneath a black walnut tree.

Cinnamon ferns are also rabbit-resistant.

20. Fritillaria (Fritillaria imperialis)

Yellow Fritillaria Flower

Fritillaria grows from a bulb a blooms in spring.

It thrives in full sun with afternoon shade.

Fritillaria is rabbit-resistant and can be planted underneath black walnut trees.

21. Wall Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)

Pink Germander Flowers

Wall germander is grown as a hedge and can be easily pruned.

The evergreen leaves are aromatic, thus making them unappealing to deer and rabbits.

Wall germander grows best in full sun and is tolerant of dry, poor soils.

22. Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)


Hens and chicks are a mat-forming succulent that develops rosettes of “mother” plants which grow to produce baby plants known as “chicks.”

They grow best in full sun with soil that drains very well and does not hold excess water.

Rosettes that bloom die after flowering and should be removed from the garden.

23. Hyacinth

White hyacinth flowers.

Hyacinths are spring flowering bulbs that are planted in the fall.

They grow in full sun or shaded areas provided that the soil drains well.

As an early flowering bulb, they are a great flower to provide for pollinators in early spring.

24. Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Flower

Jack-in-the-Pulpit is ideal in shaded or partly shaded areas. 

It thrives in humusy, organic soil that is moist.

This plant will also grow in the presence of a black walnut tree.

25. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender Flowers
Lavender in Bloom

Lavender thrives in full sun with soil that drains well.

It thrives in warm, sunny conditions.

There are many new varieties to select from.

Rabbit-resistant too!


26. Lemon Balm

Close-up of Lemon Balm leaves
Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a fast-growing herb in the mint family.

It grows best in full sun, however, it’s best to contain it as it spreads rapidly.

May be considered invasive in some states.

27. Ligularia

Ligularia Plant in Bloom with yellow flowers

An ideal plant for a wetland, pond, or bog.

The roots don’t like to be dry and the plant can wilt easily.

Best suited for a shade garden.


28. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley flowers
Lily of the Valley

An easily-grown ground cover for shade or part shade.

The flowers are fragrant and used in bridal bouquets.

It spreads rapidly so it’s best for confined areas.

It’s considered invasive in some states.


29. Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Marjoram Plant

Marjoram is a drought-tolerant herb.

The fragrant leaves are used in cooking.

It grows best in full sun with well-draining soil.

30. Mint (Mentha spp.)

Mint Plant

Mint is a fast-growing, fast-spreading herb that is best grown in a confined area.

There are many different varieties and cultivars with a myriad of scented leaves that can be used in cooking.

Mint grows best in full sun and can adapt to wet soils.

Also rabbit-resistant.


31. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Oregano Plant

A ground cover herb that is easily grown in full sun.

It tolerates drought, shallow, rocky soil, and is rabbit-resistant.

The flowers attract butterflies.


32. Ornamental Onion (Allium giganteum)

Purple Alium Flower
Ornamental Onion (Alium)

Alium plants are grown from large bulbs.

They grow best in full sun in soil that drains well.

The flowers can be cut and dried.

Alium is also rabbit-resistant and can be grown near a black walnut tree.


33. Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)

Pachysandra groundcover in bloom

Pachysandra grows best in part to full-shade environments.

It prefers moist soil that drains well but it adapts to clay and dry soil conditions.

It is a fast-spreading ground cover and is considered invasive in some states.

Pachysandra is also rabbit-resistant.


34. Peony (Paeonia spp.)

Ruby colored peony flower

Peonies are grown for their fragrant, luxurious flowers.

They bloom best when planted in full sun with soil that drains well.

Peony flowers make great cut flowers and are primarily used for weddings.

The flowers also attract butterflies.

The plants are rabbit resistant too.


35. Perennial Geranium, Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum)

Pink Cranesbill Flower
Cranesbill, Perennial Geranium

Hardy geraniums flower best when planted in full sun.

They are available in a myriad of colors.

Although they prefer moist, well-drained soil, they can adapt to clay and dry soil conditions.

They are also rabbit-resistant.


36. Poppy (Papaver orientale)

Orange Poppy flowers

Poppies grow best in full sun where the soil drains well.

They prefer to be in northern climates (north of zone 7) as southern heat and humidity are stressful to them.

The foliage dies back after they flower leaving an open space in the garden. 

37. Ranunculus

Pastel colored Ranunculus flowers

This plant is a tender bulb in most zones, so the bulb must be stored inside during the winter months.

It can be replanted outside the following spring or treated like an annual.

Ranunculus need good soil that drains well as they don’t tolerate heavy soils.

They bloom in April and May.

38. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

Rosemary plant

Rosemary is an aromatic herb that can be sheared into small topiaries.

It grows well in full sun and tolerates drought conditions.

The showy, pale blue flowers attract butterflies.

Rosemary is a popular herb for cooking.


39. Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage Plant

Sage, a well-known culinary herb, grows best in full sun and soil that drains well.

It does tolerate drought conditions and shallow, and rocky soils.

Sage has blue flowers that attract butterflies.


40. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian Sage Plant
Russian Sage

Russian sage is a woody perennial that grows best in full sun.

It tolerates drought and poor and rocky soils.

Russian sage is also rabbit-resistant.

41. Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum0

White Shasta Daisy flowers
Shasta Daisy

Shasta daisies are known for their cheery blooms that can be cut for floral arrangements.

They flower best in full sun with soil that drains well.

There are many new and improved varieties available.

Shasta daisies are also rabbit-resistant.

42. Silver Mound (Artemisia schmidtiana)

Silver Mound Plant
Silver Mound

Silver mound is a semi-evergreen woody perennial that is grown for its soft ferny foliage.

It does get yellow flowers but they aren’t very showy.

Silver mound grows best in full sun in soil that drains well.

43. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum)

St. John's Wort Plant growing outside
St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is a low-maintenance ground cover that grows best in full sun to partial shade environments.

The yellow flowers bloom in summer (July/August).

It can spread quickly and is considered invasive in some states.


44. Statice (Goniolimon tataricum)

Multi colored Statice plants growing outside

Perennial statice is commonly used in the floral industry as a filler in flower arrangements.

An ideal flower for drying.

It grows best in full sun in soil that drains very well and tends to be on the drier side.

45. Sundrops, Evening Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa)

Yellow evening primorse (sundrops) flowers
Sundrops, Evening Primrose

Evening primrose grows well in full sun and is adaptable to rocky, dry, soil conditions.

It prefers well-drained soil.

Evening primrose flowers are showy and have a fragrance.

46. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Sweet Woodruff groundcover with white flowers
Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff is a herb that grows like a ground cover.

It prefers heavy shade locations with moist, well-draining soil.

Sweet woodruff will also grow underneath a black walnut tree.

It’s considered invasive in some states.


47. Tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus)


Tarragon Plant

Tarragon is a fragrant herb that grows best in full sun with slightly dry soil.

Avoid wet soils or locations that don’t drain well.

It’s widely used as a culinary spice.

Tarragon is also rabbit-resistant.

48. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme leaves draping over a clay pot

Thyme is a low-growing culinary herb that grows best in full sun.

It prefers soil that drains well and likes to be slightly dry.

Avoid soils that hold moisture.

Thyme has pale purple flowers that attract butterflies.

It’s also rabbit-resistant.

49. Yarrow (Achillea)

Multi colored Yarrow flowers

Yarrow is available in a myriad of flower colors that attract butterflies.

It’s best suited for a full sun location that has good draining soil.

Yarrow tolerates drought, and poor soils and is rabbit-resistant.

50. Yucca, Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

Yucca plant in flower growing outside

Yucca is very tolerant of sandy, rocky, and dry soils.

It prefers full sun but will grow in partial shade.

Yucca’s large spike of flowers attracts butterflies.

Its leaves are evergreen to provide winter interest.


Check out our list of deer-resistant shrubs and trees!

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