12 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat


For a gardener, there’s nothing more frustrating than when deer make your carefully tended garden plants their next meal. Fortunately for you, there are lots of brilliant ground covers that you can plant in your garden that deer won’t touch, and we’ve created a helpful list of 12 of them!

Common periwinkle
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Common periwinkle (Vinca minor) is a trailing evergreen subshrub that forms large, dense colonies. Because of this quality, Common periwinkle is commonly used in landscaping as a groundcover. It is a mildly toxic plant, but due to its pungent taste, it rarely gets ingested in amounts significant enough to cause toxic effects.

14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Nepeta cataria is a herbaceous perennial plant commonly cultivated as a garden herb called Catnip. It is commonly used to flavor herbal teas, juices, and soups. Catnip is widely known for its peculiar behavioral effect on cats, so people commonly use it as a toy stuffer or treat for their feline pets.

14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Euonymus fortunei, commonly known as Wintercreeper, is an evergreen shrub native to East Asia. Wintercreeper is an ornamental plant, often used as a groundcover and climbing plant, due to its ability to grow like a vine. It is regarded as an invasive species in many parts of North America.

Sweet woodruff
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a perennial herb that grows from 6 to 12 inches tall. Popular for its fragrant leaves and lacy, star-shaped flowers that blossom in spring and summer. It prefers shady locations and makes an excellent ground cover under trees and other shaded conditions. Thrives in moist, well-drained soil.

Spotted dead nettle
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Spotted Dead Nettle is most often known as a ground cover plant that does well in the shade. It has a habit of growing low to the ground in cold seasons and tall if conditions are warm. Although its name sounds sinister, the Spotted Dead Nettle does not sting or burn like other nettles – hence the term ‘dead’ nettle. One cultivar of the species produces yellow leaves rather than the characteristic green-and-silver ones.

Garden thyme
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

While best known for culinary purposes, Garden thyme has historically seen use in embalming rituals and as incense. In the kitchen, it most often ends up as a flavoring herb or brewed in tea. Garden thyme was gifted to warriors in the Middle Ages because it was supposed to spur courage and energy.

Northern sea oats
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) tolerates shade better than most other varieties of ornamental grasses. However, you can also grow it in direct sunlight if you make sure to give it enough water. This species forms enormous colonies that help protect riverbanks from insidious erosion. The seed stalks make a welcome addition to dried flower arrangements.

Creeping lilyturf
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Creeping lilyturf (Liriope spicata) is an herbaceous flowering plant native to East Asia. It is commonly used in landscaping for ground cover. Blackish berries develop on this plant in the fall season.

Basket of gold
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Cheery, bright yellow clusters of blooms on small mounding plants give this plant its name, Basket of gold. This striking plant grows well in average soil as long as it is well-draining and not over-fertilized. Basket of gold, or Aurinia saxatilis, works as a ground cover, in rock gardens, or trailing over the borders of flowerbeds. It is deer resistant and attractive to pollinators.

Wall germander
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

Wall germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) is a creeping evergreen perennial that thrives in temperate areas where the temperature doesn’t often dip below freezing. Wall germander is commonly grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive, aromatic foliage and its pink or purple flowers. The flowers lure in pollinators and are an excellent pollen source for honey bees.

Large yellow loosestrife 'Alexander'
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

With its upright growth habit, upbeat garden performance, and golden yellow flowers that bloom throughout the summer, the Large yellow loosestrife ‘Alexander’ is set apart from other loosestrife cultivars. Its byname of Alexander was named after Donald Stuart Alexander, the late husband of discoverer Pauline Alexander. The Large yellow loosestrife ‘Alexander’ is a naturally occurring cultivar, set apart by its leaf color mutation and creamy white foliage.

Bugleweed 'Atropurpurea'
14 Ground Cover Plants That Deer Don’t Eat

While its parent plant Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) has deep green foliage, the Bugleweed ‘Atropurpurea’ cultivar was selected to have darker, purple-bronze leaves. The cultivar was named after this feature—”atro” means “dark” and “purpurea” refers to the color purple.