Do Deer Eat Ferns? Discover the Top Deer-Resistant Ferns for Your Garden

As a nature lover and avid deer enthusiast, I often get asked the question: do deer eat ferns? The answer is yes, but not all ferns are created equal in the eyes (and taste buds) of these majestic creatures. After conducting extensive research, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 deer-resistant ferns that will keep your garden lush and vibrant, while also deterring any unwanted visitors.

Do Deer Eat Ferns?

Deer are known to consume a wide variety of plant species and ferns are no exception. However, there are ferns that are less appealing to deer due to their taste or scent, making them more resistant to foraging. Planting deer-resistant ferns such as Christmas fern, Lady fern, and Cinnamon fern can discourage deer from eating your perennial garden. It’s important to note that hungry deer may still eat these ferns if food is scarce, so additional deer deterrents may be necessary.

What Makes Ferns Deer Resistant?

Ferns make a great addition to any garden with their lush green foliage and easy-to-grow nature. However, if you live in an area where deer are common, you may be worried about these animals munching down on your favorite ferns.

Some examples of deer-resistant ferns include the Christmas fern, Lady fern, and Cinnamon fern. These species have a tough, leathery texture and a slightly bitter taste that deer tend to avoid.

Deer do eat ferns, but not all ferns are equally delicious to them. Some ferns have developed a natural way to resist herbivory because they taste bitter or have a pungent odor, making them less desirable to deer as food. If you want to keep your garden deer-resistant, you should plant ferns that are known to be unappetizing to these creatures.

Types of Ferns That Are Deer-Resistant

If you’re thinking of adding ferns to your garden, consider the following deer-resistant options:

Cinnamon Ferns

Cinnamon ferns are a popular choice for those looking to add some greenery to their garden. They are native to North America and are known for their unique appearance. These ferns have a reddish-brown, cinnamon-colored stalk that can grow up to 5 feet tall, with feathery green fronds that give them a delicate, lacy appearance. They can thrive in a variety of soil types and light conditions, making them a great choice for any garden.

Maidenhair Ferns

Maidenhair ferns are another great option for those looking for a deer-resistant fern. These ferns are known for their delicate, lacy fronds that grow out in a fan-like pattern. They thrive in moist, shaded conditions, making them ideal for planting in areas with limited sunlight. While they can be grown indoors as well, they are a great addition to any outdoor garden.

Japanese Painted Ferns

Japanese painted ferns are a popular choice for those looking for a unique and colorful addition to their garden. These ferns have a metallic blue-green color on their fronds that can be very attractive when planted in groups. They are also known for their ability to tolerate drought and heat, making them a great choice for those living in hot and arid climates.

Growing Tips for Deer-Resistant Ferns

To help your ferns thrive, here’s what you need to know: First, plant them in a shady spot with soil that drains well. Keep them hydrated, but not soaked. Fertilize them every month as they grow. Finally, mulching the soil around your ferns will help the soil retain moisture and combat weed growth. Follow these simple steps for strong, healthy ferns.

Other Deer-Resistant Plants to Consider

While ferns are a great choice for a deer-resistant garden, there are many other plants to choose from as well. Consider planting lavender, marigolds, daffodils, and mint, as these plants are known to repel deer due to their strong scent.

Maintenance and Care for Deer-Resistant Plants

Keep your deer-resistant plants healthy by trimming them regularly to prevent overcrowding, watering them deeply but less frequently to encourage root development, getting rid of dead leaves and debris to avoid illness, and employing repellents or fencing to prevent deer from entering your garden.

Landscaping Tips for a Deer-Resistant Garden

To design a garden that deer won’t munch on, keep these ideas in mind. Start by selecting plants that naturally grow in your region and have natural deer-repellent properties. It’s also wise to construct some sort of fence, hedge, or physical barrier to protect your garden from the occasional curious deer. Group your plants accordingly to their requirements for soil and water to create a well-suited microclimate within your garden. Finally, incorporate various plants of varying heights and textures for an aesthetically pleasing, intriguing garden.


Which plants repel deer?

If you’re looking to keep deer out of your garden, there are several plant options to consider. Some plants are naturally unappealing to deer due to their taste or texture, while others give off scents that deer find unpleasant. Consider incorporating daffodils, foxgloves, peonies, or bearded irises into your garden for their deer-resistant qualities. Alternatively, try planting aromatic herbs like lavender or sage, or using wolf urine as a repellent.

Which ferns are deer-resistant?

Ferns are a great choice for gardens, but not all ferns are resistant to deer. If you want to ensure your ferns stay intact, choose varieties like Japanese Painted Fern, Lady Fern, and Royal Fern, as these have been found to be less appealing to deer. Their texture and scent appear to be effective deterrents. On the other hand, avoid planting ferns with soft foliage that gives off an inviting aroma to deer, such as Cinnamon Fern and Christmas Fern.

What odor do deer despise?

Deer can be deterred by certain smells in gardens. Some fragrances that are unpleasant to deer include wolf urine, salvia, and lavender. By incorporating these plants into your garden, you can help to repel deer and protect your foliage.

What plants are deer-resistant?

1. Don’t let deer munch on your garden by planting species they dislike. 2. Choose flowers like daffodils, peonies, bearded irises, and foxgloves, known to repel deer. 3. Fragrant plants like salvia and lavender, as well as plants with furry or pungent leaves, are also effective at deterring them. 4. Other deer-deterring strategies include using wolf urine or planting ferns and lambs’ ear.


So, do deer eat ferns? The answer is yes, they do. But don’t let that discourage you from incorporating these beautiful perennials into your garden. By choosing deer-resistant ferns, you can protect your plants while still adding texture and interest to your outdoor space.

From the elegant Lady fern to the bold Cinnamon fern, there are plenty of options to choose from. And remember, even deer-resistant plants may become a tasty snack for hungry deer, so it’s always a good idea to have additional deterrents in place. With a little bit of planning, you can create a stunning fern-filled garden that is both visually appealing and deer-resistant.

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