Deer-Resistant Shade Perennials for Northern Virginia

When I design a landscape for a brand new home in a subdivision that was until recently a hay field, I rarely get to use shade plants. Then there are loads of established landscapes all over northern Virginia, with towering trees shading the entire property and hogging all the water. There’s a magic to these properties that you can’t buy (unless you can somehow afford to transplant 80 foot tall oaks). Unfortunately, there’s a pest that often accompanies these majestic wooded properties:


Yep. Deer. Don’t let those pretty lashes fool you. They’ll devour your daylilies, have a meal of your hosta, ruminate on your rhododendron… nasty buggers. What’s a gardener to do?

This is a list of shade perennials that historically have been relatively safe from deer, in my experience. Why so many disclaimers? Because deer don’t read this blog, and in a tough year all bets are off.

Aquilegia (Columbine)

Source: Unknown (please advise of photo credit if known)



Source: Unknown

Convallaria (Lily of the Valley)


Ferns (most)

Galium (although a client in Vienna recently told me even this joined the buffet)

Helleborus (Lenten Rose)





Source: Unknown

leave a comment