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5 great deer resistant Virginia plants

David Marciniak

Posted on February 22 2019

5 great deer resistant Virginia plants

Every time I’m on a client’s property and I see deer I have to actively remind myself that they are, in fact, beautiful creatures. It’s far too easy to just see them as flesh and blood machines of plant destruction, gobbling up hostas and tulips and rhodies (oh my!).

 Since the only alternative is to enclose the property in an 8 foot high fence, we need to coexist with our furry planteater friends. The best way is to plant stuff they’re less likely to eat. Notice that this is NOT any sort of guarantee, as deer will eat whatever they decide to eat.

Inkberry holly


Inkberry holly (Ilex glabra spp.) is an evergreen holly with smooth, rounded leaves. It’s a wonderful choice for a foundation plant, a border, or anywhere you want some evergreen massing.


St. Johns Wort

St. Johns Wort (Hypericum spp.) is a great low growing plant that can handle the partial shade of a woodland garden. I’ve worked with a few civil engineers who specify them because they fill in beautifully and don’t tend to fall victim to deer.


Black Chokeberry


Black chokeberry (Aronia spp.) is a Virginia native plant that I’m just now coming around to. The fall color is stunning, the berries are wonderful, and it handles a range of site conditions.

Japanese Plum Yew


Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) is a shrub that I’ve recently heard described as “an English yew on steroids” and that’s not far off. Japanese plum yew hass bigger needles, darker foliage, and the deer tend to leave it alone. 

Kousa Dogwood


Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a prolific spring bloomer. Look, I know we go overboard with the word “prolific” but come on. How gorgeous is that?

Whatever you decide to plant, keep in mind that just because deer won’t eat a plant doesn’t mean they won’t destroy it. With big glossy leaves that probably have the same mouthfeel as a mudflap, magnolias are typical considered deer safe. However, deer like to rub the fuzz off their antlers, and what better place to do it than on a new (expensive) tree? If you’re not sure if what you’re considering is right for you, we’d love to help!