Like all living things, deer are always looking for the best and easiest access to food, water, and shelter. If your yard provides any of these, don’t be surprised if it becomes a prime critter hang-out spot. When the visitors are birds and butterflies it’s one thing, but it’s a whole different story when said critters make waste of your prized plants.
Deer are voracious grazers, but they certainly have their preferences— things they like and things they don’t like. To get these hooved herbivores to skip your yard and go to the next, you should take a holistic approach. In other words, deer may still come-a-running if you have plants they love, even if you also have plants they despise.
The reasons why deer prefer certain plants vary; but as with humans, it’s largely due to taste, smell, and mouthfeel; or because they provide a specific nutrient they need to remain healthy.
In general, deer like plants with the following characteristics:
- Soft leaves, stems, and flowers
- Narrow leaves, but not stiff and needly
- Broadleaf leaves and flowers
- Smooth leaves (i.e., not fuzzy or prickly)
- Sweet or soft fragrance
- Sweet tasting leaves and flowers
If you’re wondering what specific plants would be included in the ultimate deer salad bar, these are some of their favorites: Hostas, daylilies, petunias, pansies and violas, impatiens, roses, hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons, Indian hawthorne, euonymus, most yew, arborvitae, apple and cherry trees.
To minimize the chances of deer wreaking havoc in your yard, avoid the plants like these and choose deer-resistant alternatives instead.