Do Deer Eat Asiatic Lilies? (and 5 Ways to Protect Your Garden Lilies)

As a gardener and outdoor enthusiast, I’ve had an ongoing battle with deer invading my garden. But, do deer eat Asiatic lilies? In this blog post, I will give you the answer as well as the best methods to keep your garden lilies safe from deer.

Yes, deer eat Asiatic lilies. They are highly attracted to lilies due to their colorful blooms, enticing fragrance, and tender leaves. They will feed on all parts of the lily plant, including leaves, flowers, buds, and bulbs. Lilies are considered a preferred browse for deer, making them like candy for these plant-munching animals.

Do Deer Eat Asiatic Lilies?

The short answer is yes, deer absolutely love eating lilies! Of all the plants in my garden, it seems deer are most attracted to lilies. Their colorful blooms, enticing fragrance, and tender leaves make lilies an all-you-can-eat buffet for deer.

I’ve found through painful experience that deer will feed on all parts of the lily plant – leaves, flowers, buds, and even bulbs. Digging up lily bulbs is one of their favorite activities, often destroying the plant for good.

According to wildlife experts, lilies are considered a ‘preferred browse’ for deer – like candy for these plant-munching animals. So if you have a lily garden or collection, you can almost guarantee nearby deer will pay you a visit.

Which Lily Parts Do Deer Eat?

Deer aren’t too picky when it comes to lilies – they’ll readily eat all parts of the plant:

  • Flowers – Deer love munching on lily blooms, destroying the beautiful flowers.
  • Leaves – They’ll eat the leaves and stems, denuding the plant.
  • Buds – Deer will snip off buds before they have a chance to bloom.
  • Bulbs – Digging up and eating bulbs can destroy lilies for good.
  • Pads – For water lilies, deer will happily devour the pads floating on the water.

Do Deer Eat All Types of Lilies?

Deer aren’t quite as indiscriminate as we thought – they do have their lily favorites!

Here’s a quick overview of the types of lilies deer like to eat:

  • Yes – Oriental, Easter, Daylilies, Calla, Water lilies
  • No – Lily of the Valley (poisonous)
  • Sometimes – Tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer lilies *see note

‘Sometimes’ means deer will eat these if hungry enough, but generally avoid them.

Why Do Deer Love to Eat Lilies?

You may be wondering what makes lilies so tantalizing to deer. Here are the top 3 reasons why these garden pests go crazy for lilies:

1. Smell

A deer’s sense of smell is incredibly acute – they can detect odors up to 1.5 miles away! The sweet, enticing fragrance emitted by lilies acts like an irresistible perfume to deer.

2. Taste

Deer have fewer taste buds compared to a human’s 9,000. But research shows they have quite a refined palate. The tender leaves and shoots of lilies provide tasty, nutritious grazing for deer.

3. Availability

Lilies are a common garden and landscaping plant. Deer take advantage of this readily available food source. Lilies grown near natural habitats like woods or fields are especially vulnerable.

Now that we know deer are crazy for lilies, let’s look at some deterrents to protect our gardens.

How to Stop Deer From Eating Lilies

If you want to be able to grow lilies in deer territory, you’ll need to take proactive measures to safeguard your flowers. Here are natural, non-toxic tips to make your garden deer-resistant:

1. Physical Barriers

Installing fencing is the most effective way to keep deer from feasting on plants. For lilies, use protective wire cages or netting around plants or garden sections.

Key fencing tips:

  • Use galvanized metal fencing for durability – at least 8-10 feet tall.
  • Ideally, deer should not be able to see what’s on the other side of the fence. This will reduce the probability of deer deciding to jump.
  • Bury fencing at least 12 inches underground to prevent deer from crawling underneath.
  • For individual plants, wrap cages or netting completely around lilies.

2. Natural Repellents

Deer deterrents utilizing smelly or bitter natural ingredients can help make your garden less palatable:

  • Scent repellents – Pepper sprays, garlic, soap bars, human hair
  • Taste repellents – Hot sauce, predator urine, egg mixes

Check labels for pet and human safety. Reapply after rain or every 2-3 weeks during deer season.

3. Deer-Resistant Plants

Here are some plants that can be planted alongside lilies that deter deer:

  • Lavender
  • Daffodils
  • Alliums
  • Sage

Since deer dislike strong scents, use pungent herbs liberally around your garden borders.

4. Scare Tactics

Motion-activated sprinklers, lights, and noisemakers like ultrasonic devices can give deer a harmless but effective scare. Placing human-scented bars of soap, bags of human hair, or predator urine near garden entry points warns deer of your presence.

5. Population Control

Hunting, relocation, birth control, and sterilization can help manage deer overpopulation in your area, reducing garden damage. Check with your state’s local fish and wildlife agency for programs as well as local laws and regulations beforehand.

Deer Resistant Lily Varieties

While no lily is 100% deer proof, there are some varieties and hybrids that are less tempting to Bambi. Here are top picks:

Calla Lilies

Calla lilies contain calcium oxalate crystals toxic to deer. The leaves also have an unpleasant taste.

Canna Lilies

With their tropical look, cannas are great deer resistant lilies for gardens. Their leaves cause digestive upset in deer.

Asiatic Lilies

Asiatic hybrid lilies like ‘Tiny Bee’ and ‘Tiny Ghost’ have bolder colors and scents deer dislike. Only eat as last resort.

Stargazer Lilies

The colorful ‘Stargazer’ Oriental lily smells like skunk to deer! They’ll only feed on it if starving.

Tiger Lilies

With spotted blooms on tall stems, Tiger lilies lack the sweet fragrance deer look for. Their strong scent deters grazing.

When shopping for deer-resistant lily bulbs this fall, look for these varieties to avoid deer damage in your garden.


There you go. Now you know the answer to the question: “Do deer eat Asiatic lilies?” Yes, they do. However, while deer can be a nuisance, there are many strategies we can use to discourage them from treating our gardens like an all-you-can-eat buffet. When it comes to lilies, combine physical barriers with natural deterrents to stop deer from munching your flowers and bulbs.

Planting deer-resistant varieties like Calla, Canna, and Asiatic lilies is also key. Check with your local nursery or extension office for the best lily types for your growing zone and deer situation.

With some creativity and diligence, you can enjoy gorgeous lilies all season long without surrendering them to hungry deer invaders!

I hope you found this in-depth look at deer and lilies helpful. Get in touch if you have any other deer deterrent tips!

Happy gardening!

You may also be interested in reading: