Do Deer Eat Coleus? (and How to SAFEGUARD Your Plants)

Today I’m going to dig into a question that has been keeping some of us up at night: do deer eat coleus? I mean, we all know how much these graceful creatures love to munch on your garden, so it’s only natural to wonder if they’re going to chow down on your beloved coleus. So, let’s get to the bottom of this, shall we?

Do Deer Eat Coleus?

Deer are known to be herbivores and they are known to consume a variety of plants. Unfortunately for coleus enthusiasts, even if it is not one of their favourites, deer can consume coleus. Coleus plants are known for their beautiful leaves and bright colors, but they unfortunately attract deer due to their soft tender leaves. Deer can consume a considerable amount of coleus in a single night, leaving the plant stripped of its leaves and reduced to a bare stem. Therefore, protecting your coleus plant from deer is necessary to ensure their survival.

Coleus Plants

With its vibrant foliage appearing in a spectrum of bright greens, purples, pinks, and reds, Coleus plants are a true showstopper. They are an effortless option to maintain, winning over enthusiasts with varying levels of gardening experience. Whether planted in garden beds or containers, they prove to be a hit among fandoms in USDA zones worldwide, enjoying preferences as an annual.

Deer Damage and Its Effects on Coleus Plants

Deer are known to be herbivores and they feed on a variety of plants. Unfortunately, coleus plants are not an exception, and they attract deer due to their soft and tender leaves. While deer will not eat coleus as their primary food source, they can still consume a considerable amount of coleus leaves in a single night. This can leave the plant stripped of its foliage, leaving behind a bare stem. The damage caused by deer can impact the coleus plant’s ability to survive and it can take a long time for the plant to recover.

Importance of Protecting Coleus Plants from Deer Damage

Protecting your coleus plant from deer damage is necessary to ensure their survival. If your coleus plant is repeatedly damaged by deer, it can cause long-term damage that can lessen the plant’s health vitality. When the leaves are damaged and the plant is left exposed, the plant is more susceptible to disease and pests. Therefore, it is critical to protect your coleus plants from deer damage to keep them healthy and thriving.

Are Coleus Plants Deer Resistant?

Although it is difficult to determine why deer wouldn’t browse or graze on coleus plants, evidence suggests that it might be due to the specific scent of the leaves. One of the reasons why deer might prefer other plants to coleus is due to the smell or taste of coleus leaves. While there is no guarantee that deer won’t eat coleus, it seems that they are less likely to do so.

Factors That May Affect Deer Resistance

There are several factors that may affect the deer resistance of Coleus plants. One of the most significant factors is the population density of deer in the area. The more deer there are, the greater the chance that they will damage your coleus plants. Other factors to consider include the presence of alternative food sources, which can make coleus less attractive to deer.

Protecting Your Garden From Deer

Fencing Options and Techniques

One of the surest ways to protect your coleus plants from deer is to install a fence that is tall enough to keep them out. A fence that is 8 feet tall or higher is usually enough to keep most deer out because they are not very good at jumping over obstacles of that height. Additionally, you can install a fence that is electrified or use a motion sensor sprinkler as a deterrent.

Chemical and Natural Repellents

Ammonia Sprays

If you want to protect your coleus plants from deer without installing a fence, there are several chemical and natural repellents that can be effective. One of the most effective natural repellents is ammonia. To create an ammonia-based spray, combine one part ammonia and ten parts water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture around the perimeter of the garden, being careful to avoid spraying the plants themselves. The strong scent of ammonia will keep the deer away.

Urine Repellant Sprays

Deer have a keen sense of smell and they can detect the scent of predators or other animals indicating that they may be in danger. This is where urine repellant sprays can be useful.

These sprays contain ingredients that mimic the scent of predators or other deer’s urine, which help to repel deer from your coleus plants. You can either buy specially formulated sprays from a home-improvement store or make a homemade solution with ingredients like garlic, cayenne pepper, or eggs.

Companion Planting Options

Companion planting involves growing different plant species together to benefit each other. Fortunately, there are many plants that deer avoid and can be great companion plants for coleus. These plants typically have strong smells or tastes that deer find unappealing. Some great options include fragrant herbs like lavender or rosemary, ornamental grasses, marigolds, and snapdragons. You can either plant these as a border around your coleus or mix them in with your coleus plants to deter deer.

Motion Sensor Sprinklers

Motion sensor sprinklers are a great investment for gardeners looking to protect their plants from deer. They are easy to install and can be set up to cover the entire garden or specific areas. These sprinklers work by sensing the movement of deer and spraying water, which scares them away. This is an effective way to prevent deer from consuming your coleus without harming them.

Bar of Soap

Irish Spring soap has a strong scent that mimics human scent, which can be used to deter deer. Simply shave soap strands or place the whole bar around the perimeter of your garden. The scent will linger and help to repel deer from your coleus. Keep in mind that this method should be used in conjunction with other protective measures for the best results.

Prickly Plants

Deer are notorious for avoiding prickly plants due to their sharp thorns or spines. By planting plants like holly or cactus around your coleus or garden, you can create a natural barrier that deer are unlikely to cross. This method not only deters deer but can also add an interesting texture to your garden.

Getting a Dog

Dogs are natural predators to deer and can be effective in keeping them away from your coleus. However, this method may not work for all gardeners as not everyone is able to accommodate a pet or may not want to deal with the responsibilities of owning a dog.

Importance of Regular Maintenance and Monitoring

Even with all the protective measures taken, it is still important to regularly monitor your coleus plants for any signs of deer damage. Check your plants for missing leaves or damage to the stem and apply any necessary repellents or protective measures promptly.

Tips on Maintaining and Monitoring Coleus Plants

To prevent damage to your coleus plants, it is important to keep them healthy and well-maintained. Water them regularly and make sure they are receiving enough sunlight. Additionally, prune any damaged or dead leaves to promote healthy growth. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of deer damage and apply any necessary protective measures promptly.


So, do deer eat coleus? Unfortunately, the answer is that they can eat them, however, those are not deer’s favourite food. But that doesn’t mean you have to wave a white flag and surrender your prized plants to the grazing habits of these adorable yet destructive creatures. There are plenty of ways to safeguard your coleus and keep it thriving in your garden!

From deer repellent sprays to fencing and even companion planting, there are many tactics you can employ to protect your coleus and deter deer from nibbling on your greenery. By taking a proactive approach and using some of these methods, you can ensure that your coleus stays vibrant and beautiful, free from those pesky deer! Don’t let a hungry deer spoil your gardening dreams – take control and keep your plants safe.

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