I noticed that there seem to be a lot of articles out there to educate people on which plants are resistant to deer, but not so much on telling which plants deer love to eat, or what to avoid if that is not your intention. (As in, the deer will eat these to the ground). So, I decided that it is time to put the warning out there.
Now, obviously deer will eat a lot of different plants, and how picky they are will depend on how many options they have.
During the winter they could eat just about anything without giving it a second thought.
But, if you want to know which plants are certain to cause the neighbors to believe that you have gone completely mad (something that is sure to happen when you run outside flapping your arms, screaming like a maniac) then, continue to read.
What Plants Do Deer Love to Eat?
Hostas – This is one of the few greenery plants for the shade that last through 3 full seasons and produces a bloom. However, the deer will make these into a nice snack.
Knockout Roses – (and a few other rose cultivars as well). You would think that the thorns would be a nice deterrent, but you would be wrong. Mostly, they will chomp off the lovely blooms and leave you with a bald looking shrub.
So, how am I getting such wonderful results with these knockout roses? Well, for some reason the deer do not like to walk across my driveway.
These are comfortably tucked between the eastern side of my house and my double-wide pebble driveway. So far so good!
Incidently, knockut roses are also amazing plants for clay soil.
Daylily – Oh, how I would love to just once get to experience a full and abundant display of my daylilies, instead of the bundle of stubs that are, more often than not, left behind.
The deer love these bulbs. In fact, they tend to like most bulbs, but if I list every plant that deers love…. well, I would be here all day.
Arborvitae – They love these narrow leaves. In addition, they like most other narrow-leaved evergreens – think fir.
Notice how this buck is completely bypassing everything to devour the arborvitae in this planter. [grrr!]
5) Apple/Cherry trees – You may as well put out a buffet, and don’t expect to get many apples from the tree if you have deer around.
In addition, cherry trees tend to maintain small delicate trunks for quite a few years. If you have a lot of deer around your property, bucks may use these small trees to rub their antlers during their mating season.
6) Pansies – we like these for their late-season color, but that is also when food selection begins to become scarce for deer, and these beautiful gems must look like candy to deer.
7) Yew- Although they may not kill off your yews, they will definitely misshapen them. If you must have Yew, try the Japanese Plum Yew.
8) Azaleas – It’s hit or miss with the type of azalea that deer prefer. I tend to believe that they vary by geographical area. However, if you get the right (or wrong) azalea plant, deer will eat blooms, bulbs, and the softwood.
9) Indian Hawthorne – Yes, there are probably some other plants that I could easily justify as deserving of this spot on the list, but considering the damage that is persistently being done to mine, I made a judgment call.
I had a whole row of these between my house and the driveway. For two seasons, deer gradually nibbled them down to nubs.
Two years ago, I transplanted them inside the gated area of my backyard, They have made an amazing recovery!
10) English Ivy – Since these vines are so aggressive, I am not sure how much damage a deer can actually do with these. Still, they seem to love them. So, keep that in mind if choosing these for ground cover in deer territory.
If, however, you are looking for something sturdy that will attract deer, this may be a good option.
I know, I know. There are so many more plants that could be on this list, and some of you may be growing these plants in deer country with nary a nibble. Consider yourself lucky.
All-in-all, there are hundreds of plants deer love to eat, these are just the ones that I consider to be the top ten. Plant at your own risk!