What Flowers Do Deer Eat?

Deer on a flower field

Deer are a common sight in many gardens and can be both beautiful and destructive. As they roam around looking for food, deer may snack on plants and flowers you’ve worked so hard to maintain. But what flowers do deer eat?

Short Answer

Deer will happily munch away on various flowers, including roses, pansies, hollyhocks, petunias, and tulips. They also enjoy eating daisies and daffodils. Other plants that deer may find attractive are carnations, impatiens, honeysuckle, and clematis.

Knowing what flowers deer like to feed on to protect your garden is essential. While some flowers are considered deer-resistant, there are certain types of flowers that deer will find irresistible, and the animals’ browsing can damage that. 

Here, we’ll look at the kinds of plants deer tend to go for and how you can protect your garden from these four-legged pests.

Why Deer Eat Flowers?

Deer in a park

Deer are known to eat many different types of vegetation, including flowers. This is due to their physiology and diet requirements.

Deer have a digestive system adapted for browsing on leaves, stems, buds, bark, and other tender vegetation – meaning they can’t process or digest tougher items like grains

In addition, deer need high levels of protein, minerals, and other nutrients which can be found in flowers. Therefore, as deer cannot digest more rigid vegetation or find the necessary nutrients elsewhere, they browse flowers for sustenance.

Although deer may eat some of your garden’s flowers, you don’t need to worry too much about it. This is because most flowers are not their preferred food source, so they will usually only eat them if they can’t find other options. 

Even when deer browse on flowers, the damage is minor and confined to individual plants. Therefore, while it may be annoying that deer are eating your flowers, remember that this should pass quickly with no lasting damage in most cases.

Flowers That Deer Like To Eat


The excellent news is that deer do not tend to eat all flowers; some are pretty unpalatable to them.

Knowing which types of flowers deer like to eat can help you create a garden that keeps these nibbling pests away from your beloved blooms.

Here are some popular flowers deer like to snack on:

  • Nasturtium: This bright and eye-catching flower has a sweet, peppery taste that deer find irresistible.
  • Daisies: Daisies are easy to spot in a garden due to their large white petals and yellow centers. Their mild flavor is also appealing to deer.
  • Cosmos: These colorful flowers have a mild, sweet taste that deer are drawn to.
  • Hollyhocks: Commonly found in cottage gardens, hollyhocks boast bright colors and an equally attractive flavor to deer.
  • Lilies: Deer find the delicate petals of lilies just as delicious as humans do, making them a favorite of the foraging animals.
  • Daylily: Daylilies have a mild flavor that deer find particularly tasty.
  • Pansies, Violas, And Violets: These soft and fragrant flowers are a favorite snack of deer.
  • Dahlia: The deep colors and sweet taste of dahlias make them an attractive option for deer.
  • Tulip: While tulips may not be at the top of deer’s preferred menu, they will still eat them if given the opportunity.

Flowers That Deer Don’t Eat


On the other hand, deer also find many flowers unappealing and tend to avoid them.

Fortunately, these plants can create borders or fences around gardens, helping keep deer away from your prized blooms. 

Here are some examples of flowers that deer don’t like to eat:

  • Lavender: Lavender is a favorite for many gardeners because of its soothing smell and beautiful purple hue. It also tends to be deer-resistant due to its strong scent.
  • Marigolds: These bright blooms have a strong, pungent odor that deer don’t find appealing.
  • Daffodils: Not only are these yellow flowers a symbol of spring, but their bitter taste also deters deer from munching on them.
  • Foxgloves: The tall spires of foxgloves make a stunning addition to any garden; however, their fuzzy leaves and bitter taste make them unappealing to deer.
  • Peonies: These pretty blooms are one of the few that deter deer due to their thick, leathery petals.

Interesting facts about the plants that deer do not like:

  • Deer tend to stay away from strong fragrance plants. Herbs such as sage, lavender, and mint are a great way to keep deer from snacking on your garden.
  • Other flowers like irises, lilacs, and peonies can also deter deer due to their powerful scent.
  • If you don’t want to rely solely on fragrance for deterrence, plants with fuzzy leaves, spiny stems, and coarse textures are also unattractive to deer.
  • Poisonous plants like foxglove and daffodils will be safe from deer since they usually steer clear of potentially toxic food sources. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, deer generally prefer to eat grasses and shrubs rather than flowers. However, it is essential to remember that deer will consume a variety of plants if they are hungry enough or if the food sources are scarce. 

Therefore, to keep your garden safe from these browsing animals, it is best to use fencing and repellents to keep them out.

It is also essential to ensure that your garden is well-maintained by removing dead plants as soon as possible, which can provide deer with an easy food source.

Doing these things should help you protect your flowers from being eaten by deer. 

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