Bachelor buttons, petunias, salvia, snapdragons, marigolds and morning glories are all deer-resistant annuals. Deer commonly avoid annuals with a strong scent, a prickly texture or those that are poisonous to them. While deer may avoid these plants, they also seem to be attracted to freshly fertilized gardens, making it important to utilize more than one tactic for creating a deer-free garden.
Bachelor buttons come in a variety of blue shades; because they reseed, they grow much like a perennial and have stems tall enough for cutting. Petunias are extremely easy to grow; these 10-inch-tall plants add a big splash of color to the garden with their trumpet-shaped flowers in shades that include pink or yellow. Salvia is a spiking flowered plant most commonly available in blue and coral colors.
Snapdragons produce trumpet-shaped flowers on vertical stems that can grow as tall as 36 inches and in a range of colors that includes red, yellow, pink, coral and purple. Marigolds are a classic deer and insect repellent in the garden and are available in varieties that include patterns of oranges and reds. Morning glories are easy to grow and can quickly fill out a trellis or another support during the growing season.
Planting deer-resistant annuals is not the only way to keep deer out of the garden. Adding a fence around the garden is the most effective method gardeners can use to keep deer away from tender plants. Other options include planting tall, deer-resistant shrubs, such as short needle spruces or boxwoods, around the garden's border to keep deer away from fragrant annuals they may find appetizing.
Other tactics to discourage deer from destroying the garden include planting a barrier of very fragrant plants, such as lavender or garlic, to make the rest of the garden less appetizing. Gardeners can mix plants with hairy or thorny foliage, such as lamb's ear or barberries, with the plants that need protecting and near the entrance to the garden. Stringing fishing line 2 to 3 feet above the ground around landscaping beds confuses deer, often causing them to run away.