Yarrow and deer

Is Yarrow Deer Resistant?

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), a perennial favorite among gardeners, is not only admired for its aesthetic appeal but also for its potential to withstand deer grazing. In areas with high deer populations, choosing plants that are less attractive to these animals is crucial. This article aims to explore yarrow’s reputation as a deer-resistant plant, providing insight for gardeners looking to maintain beautiful landscapes in deer-prone regions.

Deer Resistance in Plants

Deer resistance in plants refers to a plant’s natural ability to repel deer due to certain characteristics. These characteristics can include strong scents, toxic substances, or unpalatable textures. It’s important to note that deer resistance does not mean deer-proof; rather, it indicates a lower likelihood of the plant being eaten by deer. The concept of deer resistance is vital for gardeners in areas where deer are a common nuisance, as it helps in selecting plants that are less likely to be damaged or destroyed by deer grazing.

Overview of Yarrow

Yarrow is a hardy perennial known for its vibrant flower clusters and fern-like foliage. It thrives in a wide range of environments, particularly in well-drained soil and full sun. Yarrow is often used in borders, rock gardens, and wildflower meadows, providing a burst of color and texture. Its popularity is not just due to its visual appeal; yarrow is also known for its medicinal properties and its use in herbal remedies.

Yarrow’s Deer Resistance Properties

Yarrow is often touted as a deer-resistant plant, and there are several reasons why. Firstly, yarrow possesses a strong, aromatic scent, a characteristic that is generally unappealing to deer. Plants with robust fragrances often act as natural deterrents. Additionally, yarrow’s foliage and flowers have a somewhat bitter taste, another factor that can discourage deer from feasting on them. These properties make yarrow a less likely target in a garden frequented by deer.

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Enhancing Deer Resistance in Your Garden

To maximize the deer-resistant properties of yarrow, consider its placement in your garden. Planting yarrow around the perimeter of your garden or near more susceptible plants can act as a natural barrier. Companion planting with other deer-resistant plants such as lavender, sage, or Russian sage can strengthen your garden’s overall resistance. This strategy not only helps to protect more vulnerable plants but also contributes to the biodiversity and aesthetic of your garden.

Limitations and Considerations

While yarrow is generally deer-resistant, it’s important to recognize the limitations of this trait. Deer preferences can vary based on the availability of food sources and local deer populations. In situations where food is scarce, deer might be more inclined to sample plants they usually avoid, including yarrow. Therefore, it’s crucial for gardeners to consider yarrow as part of a broader deer management strategy rather than a standalone solution.


Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), with its aromatic scent and bitter taste, stands as a strong candidate for deer-resistant gardening. Its incorporation into a garden can add not only visual charm but also a layer of protection for more vulnerable plants. However, it’s important for gardeners to recognize that deer resistance is a relative term. While yarrow is less likely to be the first choice for deer, in times of scarcity or high deer pressure, it may still be grazed upon.

Incorporating yarrow into your garden as part of a comprehensive deer management strategy can yield better results. Combining yarrow with other deer-resistant plants, employing physical barriers where necessary, and understanding the local deer behavior are all crucial steps in creating a resilient garden. Adaptability and observation are key; what works in one garden or season may need adjustment in another.

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Ultimately, gardening in deer-prone areas can be challenging, but it also offers an opportunity for creativity and innovation. Yarrow, with its versatile nature and deer-resistant properties, can be a valuable component of this approach. By understanding and working with the local ecosystem, gardeners can enjoy the beauty and benefits of their efforts, coexisting harmoniously with the natural wildlife around them.

About the author

Victoria Nelson

Victoria Nelson is a passionate gardener with over a decade of experience in horticulture and sustainable gardening practices. With a degree in Horticulture, she has a deep understanding of plants, garden design, and eco-friendly gardening techniques. Victoria aims to inspire and educate gardeners of all skill levels through her engaging articles, offering practical advice drawn from her own experiences. She believes in creating beautiful, biodiverse gardens that support local wildlife. When not writing or gardening, Victoria enjoys exploring new gardens and connecting with the gardening community. Her enthusiasm for gardening is infectious, making her a cherished source of knowledge and inspiration.

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