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Plants in Your Garden Deer Love to Eat

WRITTEN BY Cindy

Name the plants in your garden deer love to eat. Whether you enjoy seeing deer consuming (and destroying) the plants in your garden or you’re considering getting out a measuring wheel to see if you can legally shoot them that close to your home, we’d bet you know some of the plants deer love to eat.

As open lands and forests continue to seemingly evaporate before our eyes, deer populations are growing . . . and growing. With few natural predators and a scarcity of food, deer are becoming braver, approaching homes with little concern, especially if there’s food in the gardens.

Regardless of whether you love seeing the deer in your yard or abhor the damage they do, you may give some thought to what plants in your garden deer love to eat. And whether you plan to go to the nursery and buy these plants or pull them out by their roots and douse them in flames, we can help you figure out which ones to target.

Deer seek young, tender plants, and they will target blooms, especially on trees. And, according to the Penn State Extension, they eat about 10 lbs. of vegetation a day. Given that it takes about 10 cut flowers to make a quarter of a pound, that’s a lot of flowers!

Deer like to munch on bulb plants like tulips and lilies, but not daffodils, which apparently have a bitter taste and may be toxic. Deer are known for targeting roses, too, which sounds odd due to the thorns but, apparently, they can eat around most of them.

Vegetable gardens will attract deer, and you’ll need a very tall fence to deter them. Farmers are aware of the damage deer can do to a crop. Deer aren’t exactly careful about where they step, destroying an average-sized backyard garden in minutes. In the winter, deer will eat nearly anything. We’ve seen fences destroyed by hungry, determined deer.
If you’re on the side of “stop the deer from eating plants in my garden,” you may wonder what plants are poisonous to deer (not to kill them, of course, but to deter them). Some popular landscaping plants, including azaleas, can be toxic to deer according to many sources. However, some deer lack that information and eat them anyway. For annuals, marigolds and geraniums aren’t the usual choices and are nice garden plants.

If you or a professional is in charge of the gardening, it is smart to be strategic about what you are planting. If you’re trying to attract deer to your garden, think flowering, tender, and berries or fruits. If you love blueberries, you’re not alone. The deer do as well.

With a little internet searching, you can find lists of plants deer do and don’t like, but I know you’ll find contradictions. The same plant was found under deer-resistant and attractive to deer in many spots.

Here’s the bottom line: If deer find your property attractive, quiet, and offering tasty bites, they’re going to return. If that’s a good thing, plant those tender flowering plants. If it’s not, go with boxwood, daffodils, barberry, coneflowers, fern, and peonies. The deer may decide your grocery yard doesn’t carry the food they want and move on to better stores. With deer, it’s all experimentation.

Posted on May 25, 2021

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