Deer Are Less Likely To Eat These 10 Plants In Your WA Yard

Spring officially begins on Sunday and brings with it blooming gardens and flowers, but some visitors see the flowers and new growth as food.

According to the King County Native Plant Guide, the only deer-proof plants are those that deer cannot reach or have not yet found. Deer are grazers and love to nibble on new plants and usually nibble on clovers and perennials.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests fencing your favorite and most prized plants as the best way to deter uninvited diners, because “when deer browsing is moderate to severe, or a landowner is unwilling to tolerate even a limited amount of damage, fencing to exclude deer is the only option,” the ministry’s website states.

The King County Native Plant Guide also suggests a few plants less preferred by deer.

Here are 10 plants to plant in your garden this spring that deer are less likely to eat:

fake orange

False oranges are deciduous shrubs that bloom white flowers. The plant is known for its fragrance and its ability to grow in hot or cold, wet and dry climates.

bald hip roses

Bald roses are deciduous shrubs that bloom pink flowers and small red fruits or hips. These plants can withstand a wide range of climates and have prickles, deterring animals such as deer.

Wild or wild strawberry

Wild and wild strawberries are both perennial ground covers, growing only about a foot tall at most and blooming with white, strawberry flowers. They both need dry to humid climates and partial shade. Deer tend to find them when they are in bloom, which could be the time to fence plants.

High or low Oregon grape variety

Both tall and low Oregon vines are evergreen shrubs, but vary in height and leaflets. Tall Oregon grapes are typically eight feet tall, while low Oregon grapes are three feet tall. Both plants bloom bright yellow flowers and purple fruits.

Washington deer are less likely to eat these 10 plants in your garden this spring. Al Goldis ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pacific wax myrtle

Pacific wax myrtle plants are evergreen shrubs and are native to the southwest coast of Washington. The shrub can grow to about 15 feet and has small fruits that birds commonly eat.

sword fern

Sword ferns are evergreen groundcover plants and are well known in the Pacific Northwest. Plants can adapt to wet or dry shady climates and are commonly trampled and overlooked by deer.

devil’s club

Devil’s clubs are deciduous shrubs and are covered in thorns, deterring deer and other wildlife. The plant blooms with large leaves, white flowers and red berries in clusters. The plant grows best in a humid to dry climate and with a mixture of sun and shade.

black currant

Black currant plants are deciduous shrubs known for their fruit, although this berry variety is better for wildlife. The plant has thorns to deter some animals, but has flowers that attract hummingbirds. Black currant plants grow best near water, but can also survive in dry, shaded conditions.

Currant with red flowers

Red flowering currants are also deciduous shrubs and bloom cascading red flowers in the spring. The plant attracts hummingbirds and grows up to six feet tall in rocky soil and sunny locations.


Juneberry plants are also known as serviceberries and are deciduous shrubs. The plant is well known for its year-round beauty, as spring brings white flowers, summer brings berries, and fall brings golden leaves. The plant grows up to 20 feet tall and is easy to grow in most Pacific Northwest climates.

More information

For a longer list of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, ground covers, and vines, Sunnyside Nursery, a Washington plant nursery, has compiled a list of deer-resistant plants for the Pacific Northwest.

The Sunnyside Nursery is located at 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville, and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Alyse Messmer is a duty reporter at the Bellingham Herald. If you enjoy stories like this, consider supporting our work by subscribing to our journal.

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