While no plants are truly deer-proof, deer dislike poisonous plants, plants with strong scents, and plants with prickles or spines. If food is scarce enough, deer eat almost any plant.
Deer steer clear of poisonous plants, such as poppies, foxgloves and daffodils. They also avoid plants with strong scents, such bearded irises, onion plants and most herbs. Deer also tend to avoid plants with a fuzzy, prickly or spiny texture, such as lamb's ear, thistle and holly.
Deer graze on garden plants most heavily from October to February, when natural habitats are a less plentiful source of food. Deer love narrow-leaf evergreens, such as fir and arborvitae. They also enjoy English ivy, daylilies and hostas. These plants can draw deer to gardens and yards, and individuals should only plant them in areas prone to deer damage with additional protection, such as repellents or fences.
Scent and taste repellents can prevent deer damage to gardens. Placing rotten eggs, garlic, or other strongly-scented food items in a garden discourage deer from grazing. Repellents are most effective in areas with relatively small herds of deer.
Fencing is the most effective solution to prevent deer from damaging gardens. Since deer can jump very high, fences need to be at least 7 feet tall to provide adequate protection.