Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/18/2017 to FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Deer browsing on plants is a persistent and frustrating problem for many gardeners and landscapers all over the United States. Increased deer populations, rural shift and many other environmental factors have forced deer to wander into our landscapes and gardens and feed on the plants they find.
If you live in an area with high rates of deer the first thing to know is that under certain conditions they'll browse and eat just about any plant, especially during a prolonged period of drought.
Over the years, deer resistant plant listings have been compiled and published in order to help provide some awareness as to what plants are most or least likely to be browsed by deer. However, these lists are not definitive.
Though deer will eat almost any type of plant when hungry enough, there are some plants that are more desirable than others, and a few they won't touch at all. And, based on reports that have come in to us from gardener customers over the years, it seems the deer in different areas of the country have different taste buds or have acquired a taste for different types of plants. For example, though the deer in your area might browse azaleas, I have over 50 azalea varieties in my landscape and the deer have never touched any of them. Too, their tastes can change depending on the amount of pressure on the local populations. Back during a two-year drought we had in Georgia during the early 2000's deer went to eating Leyland cypress trees. Had never seen that before and haven't seen it happen since.
So I guess it comes down to trial and error in order to find out what specific species of plants the deer in your area will or won't eat. When adding new plants I have no experience with growing in my own landscape my general rule of thumb is to plant only one as a test. If after a few months or so the deer haven't touched the plant I then feel confident to plant more.
Under the Description tab (and then under the subheading Plant Details), on almost every plant page in WilsonBrosGardens.com you'll find whether or not we list the specific plant as deer resistant. We base the deer resistant qualities of the plant on our experience with it in our own Georgia gardens over the past few decades, where deer have always had easy-access. As mentioned above, deer in different areas of the country might like or have acquired a taste for different types of plants, or their tastes can change depending on the amount of pressure on the local populations.
Hope this information was helpful.
Plant Long & Prosper!