Deer-Proofing Your Bay Area Garden

Written by Kathy Crane, owner, Yerba Buena California Native Plant Nursery



Part of country life means sharing our gardens with deer. Afternoons at Yerba Buena Nursery, we regularly have a herd of 17 deer in our meadow. The main deer trail traverses the Nursery entrance, giving us an opportunity to test deer preferences by our planting choices.


Here’s what we know:


1)  Good fences make deer move to your neighbors! (And that’s not fair!)  A small fenced area gives you a chance to grow vegetables, fruit, or a few roses.  Consider the location of your deer trail when selecting where to place your fenced garden. Deer need a way to get from one property to another and have long established routes.  Leave a trail open to them.


2)  Deer populations vary in their tastes according to geographic area. Try using native plants which have proven successful for your neighbors.  Chances are, the local deer have similar preferences/disdain for certain plants. See below for our list of “deer resistant” plants here at Yerba Buena Nusery.


3)  A hungry deer will eat anything.  Early in the spring, nature provides more deer food.  During birthing season, mothers get hungrier!  Summer into Fall means less food and a need to get water by chewing on plants.  Spray Deer Repellent on favorite plants now!


4)  Young, tender plants taste better to deer than older, established plants.  Even among “deer resistant” plants, nursery soil imparts special flavor which dissipates over time.  Young plants which are “tasted” can’t sacrifice too many leaves. Protect these plants with a physical barrier and/or spray until established.  Plants must be individually caged, using a solid metal stake that the deer cannot push down


5)  Deer can only reach so high (sometimes on their hind legs that is pretty high).  Vines like Vitis californica (Wild grape) or shrubs like Rhamnus californica (Coffeeberry) can be protected until they grow taller than deer can reach.


6)   Planting a deer resistant group of plants in front of non- deer resistant plants can sometimes dissuade deer.  For instance, using Berberis aquifolium, Ribes speciosum or even large Bunch grasses along the deer route and planting behind these with deer preferred plants sometimes discourages deer.


7)  If the deer browse your plants, don’t despair!  Sometimes this unorthodox pruning method results in fuller, bushier plants in the long run.


8.) Why Not Just Feed The Deer?!

If all else fails, consider this perspective:  Most people continually complain that deer eat everything.  However, one kind customer took us aback when he asked us to recommend plants that the deer COULD eat.  He had fenced a private garden.  Outside the fence, he wanted to plant an area with food that the deer could enjoy! 

Yerba Buena Nursery

“Deer Resistant” Native Plant List
for Bay Area Gardens

We hesitate to publish a list of deer resistant plants for an obvious reason: Deer do not read lists!  Having said this, we offer the following recommendations.  

**Plants on this list will vary in their deer resistant qualities depending on age of the plant, tastes of your deer and the time of the year.**

** Individual plant caging and deer repellent spray may need to be used in combination with the planting of “deer resistant” plants.**

Items in bold are most deer resistant     Items in regular type are moderately deer resistant


Botanical NameCommon Name

Acer circinatumVine Maple
Acer macrophyllumBig Leaf Maple
Aesculus californicaCalifornia Buckeye
Arbutus menziesiiMadrone
Calocedrus decurrensIncense Cedar
Cupressus abramsianaSanta Cruz Cypress
Cupressus arizonica 'Blue Pyramid'Arizona Cypress
Cupressus lawsonianaLawson Cypress
Cupressus macnabianaMcNab Cypress
Cupressus macr.Monterey Cypress
Cupressus macr. 'Saligna Aurea'Weeping Monterey Cypress
Cupressus sargentiiSargent Cypress
Juglans californica var. hindsiiN. California Black Walnut
Lyonothamnus flor. ssp. asplen.Fernleaf Catalina Ironwood
Pinus attenuataKnobcone Pine
Pinus sabinianaGray Pine
Platanus racemosaWestern Sycamore
Pseudostuga menziesiiDouglas Fir
Quercus agrifoliaCoast Live Oak
Quercus chrysolepisCanyon Live Oak
Quercus garryanaOregon White Oak
Quercus lobataValley Oak
Sambucus mexicanaBlue Elderberry
Sequoia sempervirensRedwood
Sequoia semp. 'Aptos Blue'Coast Redwood
Sequoia semp. 'Emily Brown'Coast Redwood
Sequoia semp. 'Filoli'Coast Redwood
Sequoia semp. 'Simpson's Silver'Coast Redwood
Sequoia semp. 'Soquel'Coast Redwood
Sequoiadendron giganteumGiant Sequoia
Torreya californicaCalifornia Nutmeg


Adenostoma fasciculatumChamise
Arctostaphylos andersoniiManzanita
Arctostaphylos auriculataMount Diablo Manzanita
Arctostaphylos auriculata 'Knobcone Point'Mount Diablo Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffith''Austin Griffith' Manzanita
Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmunds'Serpentine Manzanita
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Harmony'Vine Hill Manzanita
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn'Vine Hill Manzanita
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Sentinel'Vine Hill Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'Dr. Hurd'Manzanita
Arctostaphylos edmundsii 'Bert Johnson'Bronze Mat Manzanita
Arctostaphylos edmundsii 'Big Sur'Manzanita
Arctostaphylos edmundsii 'Carmel Sur'Bronze Mat Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'Emerald Carpet''Emerald Carpet' Manzanita
Arctostaphylos glaucaBigberry Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'Greensphere'Manzanita
Arctostaphylos hookeri 'Ken Taylor'Monterey Manzanita
Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. franciscanaFranciscan Manzanita
Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. raveniiPresidio Manzanita
Arctostaphylos hookeri 'Wayside''Wayside' Monterey Manzanita
Arctostaphylos hookeri x pajaroensis 'Sunset'Manzanita
Arctostaphylos imbricataSan Bruno Mt. Manzanita
Arctostaphylos insularis 'Canyon Sparkles'Island Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'John Dourley''John Dourley' Manzanita
Arctostaphylos manzanita 'St. Helena'Manzanita
Arctostaphylos manzanita x unk 'Hood Mountain'Manzanita
Arctostaphylos nummulariaFort Bragg Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'Pacific Mist''Pacific Mist' Manzanita
Arctostaphylos pajaroensis 'Paradise'Pajaro Manzanita
Arctostaphylos pajaroensis 'Warren Roberts'Pajaro Manzanita
Arctostaphylos refugioensisRefugio Manzanita
Arctostaphylos regismontanaKing's Mountain Manzanita
Arctostaphylos rudis 'Vandenberg'Shaggy-Barked Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'Seaspray''Seaspray' Manzanita
Arctostaphylos tomentosa var. roseiRose's Manzanita
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Green Supreme''Green Supreme' Bearberry
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Point Reyes''Pt. Reyes' Bearberry
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Radiant''Radiant' Bearberry
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'San Bruno Mountain''San Bruno Mtn.' Bearberry
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ssp. leo-breweriLeo Brewer's Manzanita
Arctostaphylos 'Winterglow'Winterglow Manzanita
Artemisia californicaCalifornia Sagebrush
Artemisia californica 'Canyon Grey'California Sagebrush
Artemisia californica 'Montara'California Sagebrush
Artemisia pycnocephala 'David's Choice'Sand Hill Sage
Artemisia tridentataBig Sagebrush
Baccharis pilularis 'Pigeon Pt.'Dwarf Coyote Bush
Baccharis pilularis var. consanguineaCoyote Bush
Baileya multiradiataDesert Marigold
Berberis aquifoliumOregon Grape
Berberis aquifolium 'Skylark''Skylark' Oregon Grape
Berberis aquifolium ssp. compactaOregon Grape
Berberis 'Golden Abundance'Oregon Grape
Berberis 'Ken Hartman'Oregon Grape
Berberis neviniiNevin Barberry
Berberis repensCreeping Barberry
Calycanthus occidentalisSpice Bush
Ceanothus 'Centennial'Wild Lilac
Ceanothus cuneatusBuckbrush
Ceanothus cuneatus var. rigidus 'Snowball'Wild Lilac
Ceanothus 'Dark Star'Wild Lilac
Ceanothus 'Ebbets Field'Dwarf Wild Lilac
Ceanothus gloriosus 'Anchor Bay'Point Reyes Ceanothus
Ceanothus gloriosus 'Heart's Desire'Glory Mat
Ceanothus gloriosus ssp. exaltatus 'Emily Brown'Point Reyes Ceanothus
Ceanothus hearstiorumHearst Ceanothus
Ceanothus impressus 'Mesa Lilac'California-Lilac
Ceanothus impressus 'Vandenberg'Santa Barbara Ceanothus
Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps'Wild Lilac
Ceanothus maritimus 'Frosty Dawn'Maritime Ceanothus
Ceanothus maritimus 'Point Sierra'Maritime Ceanothus
Ceanothus 'Wheeler Canyon'Wild Lilac
Cercocarpus betuloidesWestern Mountain Mahogany
Chamaebatiaria millefoliumFern Bush
Comarostaphylos diversifoliaSummer Holly
Corylus cornuta var. californicaCalifornia Hazelnut
Dirca occidentalisWestern Leatherwood
Ericameria ericoidesGolden Heather
Eriogonum arborescensSanta Cruz Island Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum 'Theodore Payne'California Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. fasciculatumCalifornia Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosumCalifornia Buckwheat
Eriogonum giganteumSaint Catherine's Lace
Eriophyllum confertiflorumGolden Yarrow
Eriophyllum neviniiNevin's Eriophyllum
Fremontodendron 'California Glory'Flannelbush
Fremontodendron californicum ssp. crassifoliumFlannel Bush
Fremontodendron 'Pacific Sunset'Flannelbush
Garrya elliptica 'Evie'Coast Silktassel
Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'Coast Silk Tassel
Gaultheria shallonSalal
Heteromeles arbutifolia 'Davis Gold''Davis Gold' Toyon
Holodiscus discolorCream Bush
Isomeris arboreaBladderpod
Lepechinia calycinaPitcher Sage
Lepechinia fragransIsland Pitcher Sage
Lepechinia fragrans 'El Tigre'Island Pitcher Sage
Lonicera involucrataTwinberry
Lupinus albifronsSilver Bush Lupine
Lupinus arboreus - -- LavenderYellow Bush Lupine
Lupinus arboreus - purple formPurple Bush Lupine
Malacothamnus fasciculatusChaparral Mallow
Malacothamnus fremontiiFremont's Bush Mallow
Mimulus clevelandiiMonkeyflower
Mimulus 'Kathy's Pink'Pink Monkeyflower
Mimulus longiflorus ssp. calycinusMonkeyflower
Myrica californicaPacific Wax Myrtle
Neviusia cliftoniiSnow-Wreath
Nolina parryiBeargrass
Perityle incanaPerityle
Physocarpus capitatusPacific Ninebark
Pickeringia montanaChaparral Pea
Rhamnus croceaRed Berry
Rhus integrifoliaLemonade Berry
Rhus ovataSugarbush
Rhus trilobataSquawbush
Ribes indecorumWhite-Flowered Currant
Ribes malvaceumChaparral Currant
Ribes malvaceum 'Barrie Coate'Chaparral Currant
Ribes malvaceum 'Dancing Tassels'Chaparral Currant
Ribes malvaceum 'Montara Rose'Chaparral Currant
Ribes malvaceum 'Rinconada Rose'Chaparral Currant
Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosumPink Flowering Currant
Ribes speciosumFuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry
Ribes thatcherianumSanta Cruz Island Gooseberry
Ribes viburnifoliumCatalina Currant
Rosa californicaWild California Rose
Rosa gymnocarpaWood Rose
Rosa spithameaGround Rose
Rosa woodsii var. ultramontanaInterior Rose
Rubus spectabilisSalmon Berry
Salvia apianaWhite Sage
Salvia 'Bee's Bliss'Sage
Salvia brandegeiSanta Rosa Island Sage
Salvia brandegei 'Pacific Blue'Santa Rosa Island Sage
Salvia clevelandiiCleveland Sage
Salvia clevelandii 'Winifred Gilman'Cleveland Sage
Salvia 'Dara's Choice'Dara's Choice Hybrid Sage
Salvia leucophyllaPurple Sage
Salvia leucophylla 'Amethyst Bluff'Amethyst Bluff Purple Sage
Salvia leucophylla 'Figueroa'Purple Sage
Salvia leucophylla 'Point Sal'Purple Sage
Salvia melliferaBlack Sage
Salvia mellifera 'Green Carpet'Prostrate Black Sage
Salvia mellifera 'Terra Seca''Terra Seca' Black Sage
Salvia mellifera x ? 'Shirley's Creeper'Black Sage Hybrid
Salvia mellifera x leucophyllaHybrid Sage
Salvia 'Pinkie'Sage
Salvia sonom. 'Hobbit Toes'Creeping Sage
Salvia 'Vicki Romo'Hybrid Sage
Salvia x clevelandii 'Allen Chickering'Cleveland Sage Hybrid
Salvia x clevelandii 'Aromas'Cleveland Sage Hybrid
Salvia x clevelandii 'Pozo Blue'Cleveland Sage Hybrid
Salvia x clevelandii 'Whirly Blue'Cleveland Sage Hybrid
Sambucus racemosa ssp. racemosaRed Elderberry
Solanum umbelliferum 'Spring Frost'Nightshade
Solanum xanti var. obispoense 'Navajo Creek'Nightshade
Solanum xantii 'Salmon Creek'Nightshade
Styrax officinalisSnowdrop Bush
Symphoricarpos albusSnowberry
Symphoricarpos albus 'Tilden Park'Snowberry
Trichostema lanatumWoolly Blue Curls
Vaccinium ovatumHuckleberry
Venegasia carpesioidesCanyon-Sunflower
Xylococcus bicolorMission Manzanita
Yucca whippleiOur Lord's Candle


Achillea millefolium - pinkPink Yarrow
Achillea millefolium 'Calistoga'Grey-Leaved Yarrow
Achillea millefolium 'King Range'White Yarrow
Achillea millefolium 'Sonoma Coast'Sonoma White Yarrow
Actea rubraBaneberry
Agave desertiAgave
Anemopsis californicaYerba Mansa
Aralia californicaElk Clover
Artemisia douglasianaMugwort
Artemisia ludoviciana albula 'Silver Queen'Silver Wormwood
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King' Wormwood
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'Silver Wormwood
Asarum caudatumWild Ginger
Asclepias cordifoliaPurple Milkweed
Asclepias eriocarpaIndian Milkweed
Asclepias fascicularisButterfly Weed
Asclepias speciosaShowy Milkweed
Aster chilensisChilean Aster
Cardamine californicaMilk Maids
Cynoglossum grandeHounds Tongue
Darmera peltataUmbrella Plant
Datura wrightiiJimson Weed
Delphinium californicumCalifornia Larkspur
Dicentra formosaWestern Bleeding Heart
Dudleya setchelliSanta Clara Valley Dudleya
Epilobium 'Brilliant Smith' - (Zausch.)California Fuchsia
Epilobium canum 'Calistoga'California Fuchsia
Epilobium canum 'Catalina'California Fuchsia
Epilobium canum ssp. canum - (Zausch.)California Fuchsia
Epilobium canum ssp. latifoliumCalifornia Fuchsia
Epilobium 'Hurricane Point'California Fuchsia
Epilobium sept. 'Select Mattole'California Fuchsia
Epilobium sept. 'Wayne's Silver' - (Zausch.)California Fuchsia
Epipactis gigantea 'Serpentine Night'Stream Orchid
Equisetum hyemaleHorsetail
Erigeron glaucusSeaside Daisy
Erigeron glaucus 'Bountiful'Seaside Daisy
Erigeron glaucus 'Cape Sebastian'Seaside Daisy
Erigeron glaucus 'Sea Breeze'Seaside Daisy
Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick'Seaside Daisy
Eriogonum crocatumSaffron Buckwheat
Eriogonum elongatumBuckwheat
Eriogonum grande var. rubescensRosey Buckwheat
Eriogonum latifoliumChalk Buckwheat
Eriogonum nudumBuckwheat
Eriogonum umb. 'Excellent Yellow'Sulfur Buckwheat
Eriogonum umb. var. polyanth. 'Shasta Sulphur'Sulfur Buckwheat
Eriophyllum lanatumDwarf Woolly Daisy
Erysimum concinnumCoast Wallflower
Erysimum franciscanumSan Francisco Wallflower
Erysimum insulare var. suffrutescensDune Wallflower
Fragaria californica (vesca)Woodland Strawberry
Fragaria chiloensisBeach Strawberry
Geranium californicumWild Geranium
Grindelia stricta ssp. venulosaGum Plant
Heracleum lanatumCow Parsnip
Heterotheca sess. ssp. bol. 'San Bruno Mtn.'Golden Aster
Heuchera 'Canyon Delight''Canyon Delight' Coral Bells
Heuchera sp. - pink flowered formPink-Flowered Coral Bells
Hoita macrostachyaHoita (Psoralea)
Iris bracteataIris
Iris chrysophyllaIris
Iris 'Deep Magic'Iris 'Deep Magic'
Iris douglasianaDouglas Iris
Iris douglasiana - deep purple formDouglas Iris - Purple Form
Iris 'Escalona'PCH-Iris
Iris fernaldiiFernald's Iris
Iris 'Idylwild'PCH-Iris
Iris innominataDel Norte Iris
Iris macrosiphon 'Mt. Madonna'Ground Iris
Iris 'Native Warrior'Dwarf PCH Iris
Iris 'San Lorenzo Valley'PCH Iris
Iris 'Snow Queen'PCH Iris
Iris 'Stroke of Midnight'PCH-Iris
Iris 'Tiki'PCH Iris
Iris x douglasiana 'Canyon Snow''Canyon Snow' Iris
Juncus effusus var. pacificus 'Quartz Creek'Soft Rush
Keckiella 'Roy Taylor'Shrubby Penstemon
Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet'California Beach Aster
Lewisia cotyledonBroad Leaf Lewisia
Linum lewisiiWestern Blue Flax
Lobelia cardinalisScarlet Lobelia
Lobelia dunnii var. serrataBlue Lobelia
Lupinus albifrons var. collinusDwarf Silver Bush Lupine
Lupinus polyphyllusMarsh Lupine
Mimulus - PurpleMonkeyflower Hybrid
Mimulus - WhiteMonkeyflower
Mimulus aurantiacusSticky Monkeyflower
Mimulus bifidusApricot Monkeyflower
Mimulus cardinalisScarlet Monkeyflower
Mimulus 'Changeling'Monkeyflower
Mimulus 'Classic Purple'Purple Monkeyflower
Mimulus 'Dark Red'Hybrid Monkeyflower
Mimulus 'Eleanor'Monkeyflower
Mimulus guttatusSeep Monkeyflower
Mimulus lewisiiMonkeyflower
Mimulus longiflorusSouthern Bush Monkeyflower
Mimulus longiflorus 'Topanga Canyon'Southern Sticky Monkey Flower
Mimulus longiflorus var. rutilisRed Velvet Monkeyflower
Mimulus puniceusRed Bush Monkeyflower
Mimulus 'Ruby Silver'Ruby-Colored Monkeyflower
Monardella macranthaHummingbird Mint
Monardella villosaCommon Coyote Mint
Monardella villosa ssp. franciscanaCommon Coyote Mint
Oxalis oreganaRedwood Sorrel
Penstemon eatoniiEaton's Penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllusBlue Bedder Penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs''Blue Springs' Penstemon
Penstemon newberryi var. sonom. 'St. Helena'Mountain Pride
Penstemon palmeriPalmer's Penstemon
Penstemon procerusWhorled Penstemon
Penstemon spectabilisRoyal Penstemon
Petasites palmatusWestern Coltsfoot
Phacelia bol.Caterpillar Flower
Plantago subnudaCoastal Plantain
Polygonum paronychiaDune Knotweed
Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolataSelf-heal
Romneya coulteriMatilija Poppy
Salvia spathaceaHummingbird Sage
Salvia spathacea 'Powerline Pink'Hummingbird Sage
Satureja douglasiiYerba Buena
Satureja mimuloidesRed-Flowered Wild Savory
Scrophularia californicaCalifornia Figwort
Sedum oreganumStonecrop
Sedum spathulifoliumStonecrop
Sidalcea malvaefloraChecker Bloom
Sidalcea malvaeflora 'Palustre'Checker Bloom
Silene californicaIndian Pink
Sisyrinchium bellumBlue-Eyed-Grass
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Arroyo de la Cruz'Blue Eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Rocky Point'Dwarf Blue-Eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium californicumYellow-Eyed-Grass
Smilacina stellataSlim Solomon Seal
Solanum umbelliferum var. incanumNightshade
Solanum wallaceiIsland Nightshade
Solanum xantii 'Navajo Creek'Nightshade
Tellima grandifloraFringe Cups
Thalictrum fendleri var. polycarpumMeadow-Rue
Thermopsis macrophyllaGolden Pea
Tolmiea menziesiiPiggy-Back Plant
Vancouveria hexandraRedwood Ivy
Verbena hastataVerbena
Verbena lilacina 'De la Mina'Cedros Island Verbena
Viola pedunculataJohnny Jump-Up
Viola semp.Evergreen Violet
Whipplea modestaYerba de Selva
Xerophyllum tenaxBeargrass


Calamagrostis foliosaLeafy Reed Grass
Calamagrostis nutkaensisPacific Reed Grass
Carex praegracilisClustered Field Sedge
Deschampsia caespitosaTufted Hair Grass
Deschampsia caespitosa 'Susan's Choice'Tufted Hair Grass
Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. holciformisTufted Hairgrass
Festuca californicaCalifornia Fescue
Festuca californica 'Horse Mountain'California Fescue
Festuca californica 'Scott Mountain'Silver-Gray California Fescue
Festuca californica 'Serpentine Blue'California Fescue
Festuca idahoensisIdaho Fescue
Festuca idahoensis 'Tomales Bay'Tomales Bay Idaho Fescue
Festuca 'Siskiyou Blue'Fescue
Hierochloe occidentaleVanilla Grass
Juncus patensCommon Rush
Juncus patens 'Elk Blue'Blue Rush
Leymus condensatus 'Canyon Prince'Giant Wild Rye
Melica californicaCalifornia Melic
Melica imperfectaCoastrange Melic
Muhlenbergia rigensDeer Grass
Nassella cernuaNodding Needle Grass
Nassella pulchraPurple Needle Grass
Scirpus cernuusFiber Optic Grass

Native Ferns

Adiantum aleuticum (syn. pedatum)Five-Finger Fern
Adiantum capillus-venerisVenus-Hair Fern
Adiantum jordaniiCalifornia Maidenhair
Adiantum x tracyiMaidenhair
Athyrium filix-feminaLady Fern
Blechnum spicantDeer Fern
Dryopteris argutaCoastal Wood Fern
Pellaea andromedifoliaCoffee Fern
Pellaea mucronataBird's-Foot Fern
Pentagramma triangularisGoldback Fern
Polypodium californicumCalifornia Polypody
Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman'California Polypody
Polystichum munitumWestern Sword Fern
Pteridium aquilinumWestern Bracken Fern
Woodwardia fimbriataGiant Western Chain Fern


Cirsium occidentaleCobweb Thistle