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GardenSMART :: 5 Deer-Resistant Flowering Trees

5 Deer-Resistant Flowering Trees

By Kate Karam, Monrovia
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia

Deer, of course, are creatures of habit, repeatedly returning to the scene of the crime when they find something they love to eat. Once they find your yard a cool place to hang out, they'll be regular visitors. Fencing? Where there's a will…

And, to make matters even more vexing, deer can walk, nose in the air, by a plant in the morning, and in the afternoon, return to devour it. All of this makes it very difficult to figure out what to plant, especially the big ticket items like trees and in particular the extra-yummy flowering types.

While we will never give you a 100% guarantee that these are nibble-proof, here are five flowering trees that we've found are not favorites.

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Marina Strawberry Tree

A delightful small garden tree with rosy pink flowers that appear at the same time as the red and yellow strawberry-like fruit. Fruits are actually rather yummy, but to deer…not so much. Up to 30 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 7 – 9

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Wolf Eyes Japanese Dogwood

If you need to bring a bit of magic to partial shade, this one's a winner. Eye-catching leaves with ivory margins, fading to pink-red in autumn, and white flowers followed by bright-red berries. Berries, you say? Deer are typically not fans. Up to 20 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 5 – 8

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Zuni Crape Myrtle

Hey, deer are not just an issue in northern climes. Those in more temperate zones battle with them, too. These sun lovers are tough, easy to grow and quite unpalatable to deer. Zuni is notable for larger, dark lavender-violet flower trusses, improved hardiness, handsome peeling bark, and spectacular color in the fall. Up to 12 ft. tall and 10 ft. wide. Zone: 6 – 10

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Black Tulip™ Magnolia

Most magnolias are strictly walk-on-by plants for deer, so choose the one you like. We adore this saucer magnolia's dark and dramatic very early spring blooms. (Cut flowering branches to fill vases!) Up to 20 ft. tall and 10 ft. wide. Zone: 5 – 9

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Autumn Splendor Horse Chestnut

All the assets of the species, with the unusual trait of bright-red autumn color. Water wise, spring flowers, fiery fall foliage, and leaves that resist summer scorch. A beautiful specimen tree that's typically a "thanks, but no thanks" for marauding deer. Up to 25 ft. fall and wide. Zone: 4 – 8

For much more about gardening, plants, solutions, and ideas, visit our very popular blog, Grow Beautifully. While you're there, be sure to sign up for our award-winning monthly newsletter, Plant Savvy.


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