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Do Deer Eat Gardenias? (and How to Make Your Garden Resistant in 2023)

As someone who is passionate about deer and their behavior, I often get asked the question: “Do deer eat gardenias?” The answer is not a simple yes or no. In this blog post, I will explore the circumstances under which deer may turn to gardenias for sustenance, and provide tips for making your garden resistant to these hungry herbivores in 2023.

Deer are primarily herbivores and tend to avoid plants with strong scents or tastes. However, under certain circumstances, such as a high deer population and limited food options, they may resort to eating gardenias.

This is especially likely if gardenias are a common plant in the area and deer have become familiar with their scent and taste. Gardenia owners should consider using deer repellents or other deterrents to protect their plants from being eaten.

Do Deer Eat Gardenias?

Gardenias are beautiful, fragrant shrubs that add a touch of elegance to any garden. However, if you live in an area with a high deer population, you may be wondering, do deer eat gardenias? Deer are not attracted by gardenias, however, the may eat it if they have no other choice.

Deer tend to avoid plants with strong tastes and smells, but they may eat gardenias out of necessity or availability in the area. To protect gardenias from deer, gardeners can purchase deer repellents from garden centers. These sprays will make gardenias taste unappetizing to deer, discouraging them from munching on the plants.

Tips for Creating Deer-Resistant Gardens

If you’re concerned about deer eating your gardenias or other plants in your garden, there are a few things you can do to create a deer-resistant garden. The first step is to choose plants that deer are less likely to eat. Some good options include:

Plant Selection

In addition, you should avoid planting plants that deer are more likely to eat, such as:

Garden Design Strategies

Another way to make your garden deer-resistant is to use design strategies that deter deer. For example, you can use plants with thorns or spines, such as roses or holly, to create a natural barrier around your plants. You can also plant a variety of different plants, rather than a large patch of a single type of plant, which can make it harder for deer to find their favorite foods.

Protecting Gardenias From Deer

If you want to keep your gardenias safe from deer, there are a few steps you can take. One option is to use deer repellents or physical barriers, such as fencing or netting. However, if you don’t want to use chemicals or if you’re looking for a more natural solution, there are a few other options you might consider.

1. Fencing

Fencing is the most effective way to keep deer from accessing your garden. A six to eight-foot-tall fence is optimal, as deer can jump anywhere from 6 to 8 feet. You can also use a small fence around individual plants that deer are particularly interested in.

  • Pros: Effectively keeps deer out and can last for years.
  • Cons: Can be expensive and requires maintenance.

2. Repellents

Deer repellents work by emitting a smell or taste that the deer find unpleasant. The most common types of repellents are liquid sprays and granular food. These deer deterrents can be sprayed or poured onto the plants themselves or spread around the entire garden.

  • Pros: Repellents are relatively low-cost and don’t require any special skills to use.
  • Cons: Repellents need to be reapplied regularly and may not work in all situations. The smell of repellents can also be unpleasant for gardeners.

3. Scare Tactics

Scaring deer is another effective way to keep them out of your garden. You can use water sprinklers or noise-emitting devices to keep deer at bay. You can also use motion-detection devices like lights, alarms, or shiny objects to startle the deer.

  • Pros: Scare tactics are low-cost and require no installation. They can also be effective when used in rotation.
  • Cons: Overused scare tactics can lead to deer becoming used to them, reducing their effectiveness. They can also be bothersome to neighbors.

4. Deer-Resistant Plants

One solution to preventing deer from damaging your garden is planting vegetation that they don’t like. Deer-resistant plants like lavender, marigolds, or daffodils are less likely to be eaten. Make sure that you research which plants are deer-resistant in your region specifically.

  • Pros: Planting deer-resistant plants is an affordable and low-maintenance solution.
  • Cons: No plant is 100% deer-resistant, and browsing behaviour can change over time from deer.

5. Netting or Covers

Netting or covers are particularly useful as a short-term solution for fragile plants vulnerable to deer damage. They act as physical barriers to prevent deer from accessing the plants. Only remember to check for any animals trapped within the covers at intervals.

  • Pros: Covers can be an effective short-term solution without much expense.
  • Cons: Not practical for all plants and can become unattractive in garden design.

6. Habitat Modification

Deer are attracted to gardens that offer a range of options for them to munch on. Remove any fallen fruits or berries or get rid of bird feeders in your garden space. You’ll be removing possible food sources that can attract deer to your garden.

  • Pros: Can be an effective solution without much expense and additional steps.
  • Cons: Sometimes it’s not possible to remove food sources completely.

7. Soap Sprays

Making a soap spray is a natural, affordable, and safe method of keeping deer away. Deer don’t like the smell of strong soap, so using a soap spray on your plants will deter them. Mix soap with water in a pump spray bottle and spray it on the plants that you want to protect.

  • Pros: Soap sprays won’t damage plants and can be made quickly with household items.
  • Cons: The spray needs to be reapplied regularly and may wash off during rain.

8. Companion Planting

Companion planting is an effective way to keep deer away from specific plants. Planting herbs and non-food-related plants like rosemary, or yarrow, around seedlings you want to protect will deter deer. Deer are also less likely to eat plants grown with strong smelling herbs perfumed with essential oils like sage.

  • Pros: Companion planting is a natural and attractive solution.
  • Cons: Plants that are deer-resistant are not an absolute guarantee that they will completely stop deer from eating other plants.

9. Predator Urine

Using commercially available predator urine can help ward off deer naturally. You can purchase predator urine from hunting or gardening stores and sprinkle it liberally around the areas of your garden that are most at risk of deer damage. Alternatively, you can use it in a spray, as it has a strong smell that deer find unpleasant.

  • Pros: Predator urine is non-toxic and natural, so it won’t harm other animals or your plants.
  • Cons: Regular reapplication is required to keep the urine scent fresh, and some people may find the smell unpleasant.

10. Commercial deterrents

Commercial deterrents are an effective way to keep deer away from your garden. Electric fencing, deer alarms, motion-activated sprinklers, and high-pitched acoustic deterrents all work well. These commercial deterrents are specifically designed to keep deer away from your garden.

Signs of Deer Damage and Prevention

If you’re not sure whether deer are eating your gardenias or other plants, there are a few signs to look for. Deer damage typically involves torn leaves and stems, and may be accompanied by deer tracks in the soil. If you do notice signs of deer damage, you should take action to protect your plants as soon as possible.

Gardenias That Are Resistant to Deer Browsing

While gardenias are generally considered to be deer-resistant, hungry deer may still eat them if they have no other options. However, there are a few gardenias that are less likely to be eaten by deer. Some good options include:

  • Radicans Gardenia
  • Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia
  • Buttons Gardenia
  • August Beauty Gardenia

By choosing deer-resistant plants, using repellents and barriers, and monitoring your garden for signs of deer damage, you can keep your gardenias and other plants safe from hungry deer. With a little planning and preparation, you can create a beautiful, deer-resistant garden that you can enjoy all year long.


So, do deer eat gardenias? The answer is sometimes. While they may avoid them due to their strong scent and taste, a high deer population and limited food options can lead them to try just about anything. If you’re a gardenia owner, don’t take any chances and protect your plants with deer repellents or deterrents. Trust us, you don’t want to wake up to find your beautiful gardenias have become a deer buffet.

With a little effort and the right tools, you can make your garden resistant to deer and other wildlife. Don’t let pesky deer ruin your beautiful gardenias and other prized plants. Take action now and enjoy the beauty of your garden without worrying about hungry wildlife.

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