If you've got pesky deer and rabbits invading your garden, you may have had beautiful flowers reduced to ravaged stems. There are repellent sprays you can use on your plants that might help keep the invaders at bay. But if you don't want to use pesticides, soap shavings or other products, you might just want to opt to plant flowers, shrubs and herbs that are naturally repellent to deer and rabbits.
You can tell what's eating your plants by looking at the leaves and stalks left behind. Rabbits will chomp the plants to the ground with their sharp front teeth. The cuts will be clean and appear to have been snipped by scissors. Deer, on the other hand, tear at flowers and stems, leaving behind ragged edges. Instead of fighting the eaters, you can try planting annuals that are generally not appealing to them, including Dusty Miller, Flowering Tobacco, Marigold, Snow-on-the-Mountain, Angel's Trumpet, Larkspur, Nasturtium, Poppy, Snapdragon and Sweet Alyssum.
Fencing and dogs are two methods to help repel unwanted snackers in your garden. But if you don't want to get a pet or put up fences, you can choose to plant beautiful perennials that will not only repel the critters, but return each year. Some of the plants that are not attractive to deer and rabbits include: Allium, Astilbe, Baby's breath, Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan, Bleeding Heart, Bluebell, Butterfly Bush, California Poppy, Candy Tuft, Cinquefoil, Columbine, Dahlia, Daffodil, Daylily, Ferns, Forget-Me-Not, Foxglove, Germander, Goldenrod, Heather, Iris, Lavender, Lily of the Valley, Oriental Poppy, Peony, Salvia, Shasta Daisy, Soapwort, Sweet Woodruff, Tickseed, Vinca and Yarrow.
Rabbits are especially repelled by catmint. It's a good addition to your herb garden, although you might find the neighborhood cats rolling around in it. Some other herbs that should thrive without being threatened by rabbits and deer include: Thyme, Lavender, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Tarragon and Marjoram.
Trees and Shrubs
If you're looking for trees and shrubs that flower and add color to the landscape, but don't lure the deer, try American Holly, Barberry, Birch, Bottlebrush, Crepe Myrtle, Japanese Maple, Lantana, Lilac, Magnolia, Pawpaw, Redbud, Russian Olive, Spirea, Devil's Walking Stick and/or Viburnum. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, deer tend to not like plants with aromatic foliage, plants that have tough leathery, hairy or prickly leaves or plants with sticky sap.