Deer Resistant Shrubs for Northern Wisconsin

Deer Resistant Shrubs for Northern Wisconsin

Deer Resistant Shrubs for Northern Wisconsin

We know that it is sometimes a struggle growing plants in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, with the abundant shade, sandy soils and of course the deer, trying to grow your favorite plants can be a bit diffucult.  Being in the business for 25 years has given us a lot of insight into what plants do and do not work in our area as well as which plants the deer like best.  With this knowledge we have put together a list of deer resistant shrubs that will keep you from getting discouraged and allow you to beautify your yard.

 P.J.M Rhododendron

Rhododendron ‘PJM Elite’

PJM RhododendronStarting off the list with one of our favorites, the P.J.M Rhododendron is a great performer in partly shady areas.  In the mid May they have showy pink flowers on top of their mahogany colored evergreen foliage.  The P.J.M. Rhododendron will grow 4-5’ in height and about as wide.  These shrubs set their flower buds in early fall so if you need to prune them it is best to prune shortly after they are finished flowering.  These shrubs love a slightly acidic soil which we are naturally blessed with in this area!

 Emerald Triumph Viburnum

Viburnum ‘Emerald Triumph’

Emerald Triumph ViburnumAnother great shrub for partly shady areas the Emerald Triumph Viburnum is an eye catcher in many seasons.  It starts off in the spring with heads of small white flowers, which turn in to red, purple, and blue berries later in the summer.  In the fall it’s leaves turn a lovely color of burnished red. The Emerald Triumph Viburnum typically grows 5-6’ in height and 4’ wide.  Little pruning is required which makes this a very low maintenance shrub.

Dakota Sunspot Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa ‘Fargo

Dakota Sunspot PotentillaThis brightly flowered shrub grows 3’ tall and about as wide.  Sunny yellow flowers decorate the delicate green foliage all summer.  Preferring full sun the Dakota Sunspot Potentilla is fairly drought tolerant once established and easy to maintain.   Every few years a vigorous pruning is required to keep the shrub growing vigorously and looking healthy.  There are many other varieties of potentilla available, most are deer resistant and bloom throughout the summer in an array of pinks, oranges and whites.

 Russian Cypress

Microbiota decussata

Russian CypressIn either sun or shade this is an excellent low growing evergreen.  Topping out at 12” and spreading 3-4’ this shrub creates an excellent ground cover and is often used as a substitute for creeping junipers in shady areas.  It has very soft dark green foliage that is very attractive all season which turns a bronze color in the fall and winter.  Though it looks like an arborvitae, which is a favorite of the deer, this is one of our most deer resistant plants.




Glow Girl Spirea

Spiraea betulifolia ‘Tor Gold’

Glow Girl SpireaThis new variety of spirea is sure to light up your landscape with its lemon-lime foliage, compact habit and bright white flowers in spring.  The Glow Girl Spirea grows 3-4’ tall and is nicely rounded without pruning.  Like her parent the Birchleaf Spirea she will bloom again later in the summer if the spring flowers are pruned off.  Both Spireas are very deer resistant and drought tolerant.  The Glow Girl prefers lots of sunlight to keep her bright foliage looking great throughout the summer.

 Orange Rocket Barberry

Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’ 

Orange RocketAn exciting barberry variety with upright growth reaching 4’ and foliage colors in vivid shades of red and orange. New growth emerges radiant with orange-red tones deepening to dark red.  In the spring small yellow flowers bloom along the stem which mature into small red fruit.   In the fall the leaves take on a deeper hue which is outstanding in the landscape.  The Orange Rocket Barberry does have thorns but this is what gives it its excellent deer resistance.  Other barberry shrubs are also available including Rose Glow, Emerald Carousel, Ruby Carousel, Golden Pillar and Golden Carousel.



Billardi Spirea

Spirea x billardii

Billardi SpireaThis mid-summer bloomer makes you think of fairs and summertime amusements with it’s cotton candy like flowers.  Growing 4-6’ in height this shrub works well as a backdrop to smaller shrubs and perennials or as a planting along the foundation of a building.  The Billardi Spirea prefers full sun for its profuse flowering.  Once established it is drought tolerant and requires little care except for some pruning every few years.  Most Spirea varieties are deer resistant  and profuse bloomers and make great plants for the landscape.


There are more deer resistant shrubs and many perennials available that you can use to make your landscape beautiful.  Stop in our garden center or email us and our friendly and knowledgeable staff would love to assist you.  Happy Planting!

Katie Bevernitz

2 comments on “Deer Resistant Shrubs for Northern Wisconsin

  • Rita Kelnhofer

    Katie redoing our bushes live in st Germain, looking for 3lavendar plants, love the orange rocket barberry 2 . 1 emersld triumph verbernon and 3 short grasses that do not get real tall or 3 smaller type of shrub. Must be deer resistant. Thank you

    • Jocelyn Monge

      Hi Rita,

      My apologies for the extreme delay in response, I just now saw your comment come through from last summer! Is this something that you still need assistance with? If so, we would be happy to help you with this! Please email us at and we will get it taken care of!




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