Deer resistant Shrubs

New Bern

If you have a have a lot of shrubs, you know that deer can be a nuisance. They often eat plants and do a lot of damage. But having deer in your community doesn't mean you can't have hearty shrubs. Let's look at some options for native plants that resist deer. But note that there is no plant that is deer-proof.

Shrubs that resist deer include and grow well in this area include:

  • American Hollies
  • Wax Myrtles
  • Oleander

American Holly

You may best know this plant as the one people make wreaths out of. But when their branches aren't being used in holiday decorations, they're part of a bush that grows strong and tall. Left to its own devices, an American Holly can grow between 40-60 feet tall. However, that will take a significant amount of time. But you should consider the size of your property before buying one.

The American Holly is tolerant of most soils but if your area is prone to flooding, you may want to look elsewhere. It's also worth noting that the berries of the plant are mildly poisonous to humans. So if your area is frequented by really small children, don't let the shrub bare fruit. It's also worth noting that the bush can become a fire hazard. Be careful where you plant it.

Wax Myrtle

The Wax Myrtle is a versatile plant. It is most known for the waxy leaves that give the shrub its name. Its leaves had a wax that was made into soaps and candles in colonial times. Native Americans used them for a variety of things, including spices.  Today, it is often used as a screen hedge to divide property lines or for decoration. This plant is rarely eaten by deer however it is often used by other small mammals as well as birds for habitats during the winter. If you're trying to attract pollinators, the Wax Myrtle is a good choice. It can also grow edible berries if both a male and female wax myrtle are in close proximity to each other.

However, be careful where you put this plant. The waxy material on its leaves make it particularly susceptible to fire. Don't plant it too close to your house.


The Oleander is a tough plant native to the Carolinas. They grow best in full sunlight. This shrub can grow about a foot or two per year depending on how well they're cared for. They grow best in well-drained  soil and are drought and deer -resistant. However, you may need to consult with your landscaper before planting as some tolerate cold better than others. They bloom multiple times per year. The color of the flowers depends on the variety. Usually, they're some variety of pink or yellow. This plant is good to look at and it can act as a property divider or it can help with erosion control.

However, you'll have to be cautious about where you plant the Oleander. This plant is highly toxic to animals, including children and pets. If you have small children, it's best to put it somewhere they can't get to easily or get an alternative deer-resistant plant like the Wax Myrtle.

Here are some other notable deer resistant shrubs.

Landscape Trees

  • River Birch
  • Japanese Cedar
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Live Oak

Evergreen Shrubs

  • Abelia
  • Japanese Boxwood
  • Gardenia
  • Chinese Holly
  • Inkberry
  • Japanese Privet
  • Loropetalum
  • Nandina
  • Yucca

Deciduous Shrubs

  • Butterflybush
  • Sweetshrub
  • Spring Flowering Spireas

Vines and Groundcovers

  • Mondo Grass
  • Confederate Jasmine
  • Periwinkle, Vinca


  • Dianthus
  • Lantana
  • Purple Heart


  • Coleus
  • Vinca
  • Petunias