10 Deer Resistant Plants for Shade (Easy to Grow)

Although deer can be a nuisance in any garden, they especially love to snack on plants that grow in shaded areas.

If you’re looking for some deer-resistant plants that will thrive in the shade, look no further.

Here are 10 of our favorites:

10. Japanese Rhododendron

deer resistant plants in shade

Many people plant this shade-loving ground cover just because of its lush green color and low maintenance ability. 

Deer tend to steer away from eating fresh shoots of this evergreen shrub. Therefore, you can go ahead and give your garden a touch of class. 

This is without spending too much time or effort on it. It is known to thrive in almost any soil condition.

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How to grow Japanese Rhododendron

The best way to grow Japanese Rhododendron is by planting it in moist, well-draining soil. It prefers acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5 but can tolerate soil with a higher pH if necessary. 

Be sure to water your plant regularly, especially during periods of drought. Fertilize your plant twice a year with a balanced fertilizer.

Japanese Rhododendron is a slow-growing plant, but once it reaches maturity, it will provide years of enjoyment. 

The compound leaves are dark green and deeply lobed, with large clusters of small white flowers appearing in the summer. The fruit is red and poisonous.

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9. Sweet Woodruff 

Deer usually steer clear of this plant because the foliage has a strong, sweet scent that is unappetizing to them. 

Sweet Woodruff grows best in moist and shady areas. Therefore, it’s perfect for your garden if you’re looking for a ground cover that will add some life to an otherwise dull area.

How to grow Sweet Woodruff 

Sweet woodruff likes moist but well-drained acid soils. Being a woodland plant, it will also tolerate shade while needing 6 hours of sun every day in order to flower and produce leaves. 

You should mulch your plants with both bark chips and leaf mulch to maintain proper moisture around the roots. This has the added bonus of keeping away slugs which can quickly destroy your young plants by eating their shoots.

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8. Bugleweed 

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This plant is often used as a filler due to its low maintenance needs and fast growth rate.

But deer tend not to like the taste of the leaves, so it’s great for those who are looking for an easy-to-maintain garden with little risk of being damaged by deer.

How to grow Bugleweed 

To grow bugleweed, simply sow the seeds directly into the soil in late spring or early summer. 

The plants will self-seed and spread rapidly, so you don’t need to worry about planting too many. Bugleweed can be invasive in some areas, so be sure to keep an eye on it and pull up any unwanted plants.

Bugleweed is a great choice for groundcover, and it’s easy to grow and maintain. 

7. Foamflower 

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Another great ground cover option, the Foamflower will thrive even in the areas where other plants have failed to grow. It’s got a nice, feathery appearance that helps accentuate your garden as well.

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How to grow Foamflower 

To grow foamflower, start by planting it in rich, moist soil in either full sun or part shade. 

It will spread slowly by rhizomes, so you may want to plant it in a location where it can naturalize. Foamflower also makes a lovely groundcover or edging plant.

It’s easy to care for foamflower; just water it regularly and fertilize once a year with organic fertilizer. In winter, protect it from frost by mulching heavily.

6. Japanese Aralia 

This shade-loving plant is great for those who want to add some height and color without spending too much time maintaining their gardens. 

Like most of the other recommendations on our list, this one prefers moist soil so it can be planted near large trees or close to ponds or streams.

How to grow Japanese Aralia 

One of the easiest ways to grow a Japanese aralia is by taking a cutting from an existing plant. This can be done by selecting a healthy stem with at least three leaves and removing it from the mother plant. 

Make sure to cut the stem straight across below the leaves using sharp pruning shears.

Next, remove the bottom leaves and dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder. Plant the cutting in moist potting soil and keep it in a humid environment, such as a greenhouse or terrarium. Within a few weeks, you should see new growth emerging from the cutting.

5. Liriope 

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Deer usually steer clear of this plant because they don’t like the taste of its leaves, making it another good choice for landscaping projects with little effort involved. 

But instead of having just one benefit, Liriope also grows quickly and spreads easily, making it perfect for areas that need some TLC.

How to Grow Liriope 

Although liriope can be grown from seed, it is much easier to propagate by division. In early spring, when the new growth is just starting, use a sharp spade or shovel to divide the clumps into individual plants. 

Each section should have at least one “eye” or growing point. Replant the divisions in well-drained soil and water regularly until they are established. Liriope will spread slowly over time to form a dense ground cover.

Use liriope as a border plant, edging for a path, or in mixed containers. It is tolerant of both sun and shade and grows well in moist but well-drained soil.

4. Brunnera 

This plant is known for its beautiful blue flowers that can add a touch of elegance to any garden. And while deer may not like the taste of these flowers.

They will usually leave the leaves alone so you don’t have to worry about them being damaged by browsing animals.

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How to grow Brunnera 

To grow Brunnera from seeds, start by mixing the seeds with moist sand and planting them in a container. 

Keep the soil moist and wait for the plants to emerge. When the plants are big enough, transplant them into your garden.

To propagate Brunnera using division, wait for the plants to finish blooming and then dig up the clump. 

Divide it into smaller clumps and replant. You can also take cuttings from new growth in late spring or early summer.

3. Astilbe 

This perennial has delicate-looking foliage and feathery blooms that are sure to attract attention in any garden. 

Deer usually stay away from the Astilbe, but if you’re still worried about them damaging your plants then we recommend using a fence or other type of barrier around the area.

How to grow Astilbe 

This shade-tolerant beauty does well as a filler for woodsy or shaded areas, performing equally well in sun or shade. 

In either condition, it needs moist, rich soil with good drainage to look its best. When you plant it, make sure the crown (the point where the roots meet the stem) is level with the soil; if it’s buried too deeply, it will rot.

2. Hosta 

These plants are a mainstay in any shady garden and for good reason – they’re deer resistant.

Hostas come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors so you’re sure to find one that will fit in with the look of your garden.

How to grow Hosta 

To grow hostas, you’ll need to provide them with plenty of water and shade. They do well in acidic soil, so if your soil is alkaline, you may need to add some peat moss or sulfur to the mix.

You can also mulch around the plants to help keep the soil cool and moist.

In general, hostas don’t require much care, but you may need to deadhead them occasionally or divide them every few years. They can be susceptible to pests and diseases, so keep an eye out for any problems and take corrective action as needed.

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1. Pachysandra 

This low-growing evergreen is perfect for those who want to add some life to an otherwise dull area. Deer usually avoid eating this plant, making it a great choice for anyone who’s looking for an easy-to-maintain solution.

How to grow Pachysandra 

Pachysandra requires the following to grow well: partial shade, humus-rich soil that is moist but not soggy, and good drainage. It spreads by underground stems called rhizomes which form new plants at their nodes.

Remove spent blossoms before they can seed themselves or reseed too heavily in your garden beds. Overwatering will kill pachysandra by encouraging crown rot, so be sure you are letting the moisture drain away from the base of your plant after watering it.

Plants that are considered deer-resistant will typically have three categories of characteristics: 

1). The leaves or flowers must taste bad to the animal

2). It is not closely related to any plant that is a deer favorite

3). The plant has some physical characteristics that prevent the animal from eating it. For example, plants with thorns are more likely to be left alone by deer than plants without them. So, it’s possible for plants in the same family to have different levels of resistance.

Here are our top 10 tips on how to choose deer resistant plants for your garden:

1. Choose plants that are native to your area. Deer have evolved to eat certain types of plants, so native plants are more likely to be deer resistant than non-native plants.

2. Choose plants with prickles or thorns. Deer usually avoid plants with spines or thorns, so these plants are a good choice if you’re looking for something that will deter deer.

3. Choose fragrant plants. Deer usually avoid plants that smell strong, so choosing fragrant plants is a good way to keep them away.

4. Choose tall plants. Deer usually avoid tall plants, so choosing ones that are tall or have a tall trellis can also help keep them away.

5. Choose plants with a bitter taste. Bitter-tasting plants that contain saponins and alkaloids often taste bad to deer, so they’re less likely to eat these types of plants than other types.

6. Plant early in the season. Deer are most active during certain parts of the year, so planting early in the season is one way to ensure your new plantings won’t be munched on by deer before you get a chance to watch them grow and mature for several months.

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7. Grow deer-resistant trees. Many trees do well even in areas where deer roam, but some species are more resistant than others. If you’re looking to plant a tree in an area frequented by deer, be sure to ask your local nursery which trees are best suited for that purpose.

8. Use fencing to protect vulnerable plants. If there are certain plants in your garden that you know deer will eat, consider using fencing to protect them. Fencing can be an effective way to keep deer away from plants that they would otherwise nibble on.

9. Try repellents or deterrents. There are several commercially available repellents and deterrents that can be used to keep deer away from plants. These products can be a helpful way to protect particularly vulnerable plants in your garden.

10. Be patient. It can take some time to find the right deer-resistant plants for your garden, so be patient and keep trying until you find the right combination for your needs.

With a little effort, you should be able to find plants that will keep deer from eating your flowers, vegetables, and other plants.


Discover a sanctuary of greenery with deer-resistant plants suitable for shady areas. Our comprehensive guide unveils a variety of resilient options to adorn your shaded garden while keeping pesky deer at bay. From lush ferns to vibrant hostas, explore the beauty and practicality of these shade-loving selections. Elevate your garden’s aesthetics and peace of mind with our expert recommendations. Dive into the world of deer-resistant plants for shade and transform your outdoor space into a tranquil haven.


With so many deer-resistant plants to choose from, there’s no excuse not to add at least one to your garden.

Not only will they thrive in the shade, but they’ll also add beauty and color to your landscape. So what are you waiting for? Start planting.

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