Is Coleus Deer Resistant? How To Protect Your Plants

There’s nothing that gives a bright splash of color to your garden like the hardy coleus plant.

Its attractive leaves are a go-to in landscaping, providing cheery foliage that’s easy to care for even if you’re a beginner gardener. 

Unfortunately for plants, humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy their leaves. Deer are one of the most common pests for the avid gardener, foiling even the best-laid plans with their appetites.

If you live in a heavily wooded area where there’s likely to be deer, you may be hesitant to plant the species you really want, knowing your hours of work may be for naught if spotted by hungry wild creatures. 

Is coleus deer resistant? Coleus is grown as a foliage plant, meaning its leaves are the most eye-catching part (rather than the flowers or blooms). Deer aren’t usually attracted to the texture and taste of coleus, so for the most part, they leave it alone. To ensure plants’ safety, use a variety of deer deterrents. 

In the following you’ll discover more about the relationship between deer and coleus. By learning about the predator and prey, you can build confidence that your garden will thrive. 

How To Protect Your Coleus Plants From Deer

Since deer are easily spooked and tend to avoid the scent of humans, there are multiple reliable methods for you to choose which is best for your landscaping situation. Effective repellents include: 

  1. Sprays: Many home-improvement stores have specially-formulated solutions with ingredients deer avoid (or buy online here). You can also create homemade sprays using eggs, garlic, or cayenne/chili peppers. Just reapply them more often than their chemical counterparts, especially after it rains. 
  2. Soap Shavings or Human Hair: Deer do not appreciate the scent of humans, as it signals a possible predator nearby. Add bits of soap or collect clippings from your most recent haircut. Scatter over the garden area for all-natural plant protection.
  3. Deer Fence: A physical barrier is a great way to ensure the safety of your foliage. Note that the fence must be 6 to 10 feet tall (like this 7 1/2-foot-tall net fencing) to be effective, as deer are excellent jumpers. 
  4. Motion-Activated Lights: The sudden spotlight on their movement will discourage deer from approaching certain areas. 
  5. Avoid Tasty Plants: Don’t want deer around your plants? Don’t tempt them with the good stuff! See below for which plants are less enticing to include in your landscaping. 
  6. Strong-Smelling Plants: Choosing plants with pungent odors that deer do not like, such as lavender, rosemary, sage, and peonies, will drive them away from others that are more enticing. 
  7. Coverings: Mesh cloth, like this green plastic mesh that will blend with foliage, usually does the trick well.  
  8. Plant Close to House: The noise and activity of humans will cause deer to be nervous and most likely stay away from foliage adjacent to the house. 

Some gardens may not be entirely out of danger from hungry ungulates, depending on the local herd populations.

Even if you plant the right species and use effective deterrents, if you live in a densely deer-populated area, you’ll have to put up more of a fight to protect your yard.  

Best Plants To Deter Deer 

Deer, just like people, have tastes and preferences in regards to what they’d rather eat for dinner. Some herbs and flowers that are fragrant and appealing to us actually drive deer away!

This is especially true for plants with thick sap and tough or prickly leaves. Deer also aren’t crazy about overly aromatic species – strange to us, as it’s a feature humans actively seek out. 

Rather than reacting with deterrent methods after the pesky creatures find out what delicious meals your yard has to offer, keep them away in the first place by incorporating deer-resistant species throughout your landscaping. 

Deer-Resistant Annuals 

  • Calendula – pretty blooms with herbal benefits 
  • Snapdragons – great for pollinators 
  • Flowering tobacco – easy care, sweet-smelling to humans but not to deer 
  • Canna lilies – striking foliage similar to coleus 
  • Salvia varieties – strong-smelling member of the mint family 
  • Amaranth – another colorful option 

Deer-Resistant Perennials 

  • Ornamental onion – an odor too strong for deer’s liking
  • Peony – spectacular, delicate blooms  
  • Bleeding hearts – hardy in the heat of summer 
  • Catnip – tempting to cats but too strong for deer 
  • Alyssum – eye-popping colorful ground cover 
  • Foxglove – poisonous to deer and humans alike

Deer-Resistant Shrubs 

  • Boxwood – contain alkaloids with a nasty taste 
  • Arrowwood – vibrant colors for your yard
  • Most types of evergreens – with the exception of bark in the coldest winter, deer generally don’t like pines.

Visit this helpful chart for more info on regional plants that deer won’t munch on.

Related Questions:

How Many Types of Coleus Are There? 

There are somewhere between 200 and 300 varieties of coleus distinguishable from each other ranging in size, shape, and color.

The most popular types have flashy leaves and names just as colorful as they are, like ‘Watermelon’, ‘Kiwi Star’, and ‘Fishnet Stockings’. 

Some coleus look like leafy plants you’d find in a garden, while others more closely resemble a succulent.

One of the most baffling types, the Mexican mint, sometimes gets confused with marigold – but shares characteristics of oregano and works as a culinary substitute for French tarragon.

Is Verbena Deer Resistant? 

Verbena is definitely not a favorite of deer. Its fragrant scent repels their noses, while the textured blossoms don’t provide much substantial material for them to eat.

You can help keep deer out of your landscaping by incorporating verbena into the setup – a successful repellent that attracts pollinators at the same time. 

Conclusion 

Keep in mind that any wild animal might resort to unusual feeding habits when the weather reaches seasonal extremes.

After all, unusual foods are better than no food at all. This is why our lists of plants above are considered deer resistant and not deer proof! 

However, for the most part your coleus are safe from deer, allowing you to plant them anywhere in your yard without fear of your hard work becoming a tasty meal. Happy gardening! 

Sources:

https://savvygardening.com/deer-resistant-annuals/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coleus

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-grow-coleus-plants-1402921

https://www.gardendesign.com/plants/deer-resistant.html

https://www.bhg.com/gardening/pests/insects-diseases-weeds/tips-for-deterring-deer-from-eating-gardens/