Varieties of shrubs that are resistant to deer include arrowwood viburnum, barberry and fragrant sumac. Though no plant is completely safe from desperately hungry deer, these shrubs are rarely damaged by them.
The arrowwood viburnum is a shrub native to eastern North America. It is not only deer-resistant, but easy to grow, as it does well in all manner of soils, including acidic soils and wet soils. It also thrives in full sun to full shade. Its botanical name, Viburnum dentatum, indicates its toothed leaves, which turn red in autumn. In spring, arrowwood viburnum produces white flowers followed by bunches of blue berries.
Barberries are shrubs grown for their red or pale greenish-yellow leaves as well as their deer-resistance. Their branches arch and form attractive mounds. The shrub grows from three to eight feet tall and does best in full or partial sun. The one drawback is that barberry is invasive and is banned in some areas.
The fragrant sumac has three leaflets per leaf, and resembles poison ivy. But it is a safe plant that forms thickets up to eight feet tall. The small, yellow-green flowers appear in early spring before the leaves arrive, and they're followed by hairy red fruit in summer. In the fall, the leaves turn brilliant red.