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Deer-Resistant Gardenias

bud of gardenia image by Igor Zhorov from

Gardenia shrubs are prized for their beautiful flowers and pleasing fragrance as an addition to the home garden. Although many beloved plants are common targets for deer-feeding habits, the gardenia plant exhibits resistance to this landscape pest. Familiarize yourself with care requirements for vigorous growth as well as deer habits for further protection.

Ornamental Description

Gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides), also referred to as cape jasmine or common gardenias, are evergreen shrubs that display single or double white blooms. Flowers are extremely aromatic and have a waxed appearance, according to the Clemson University Extension. With shiny, deep green foliage, gardenia shrubs grow to a height of 2 to 6 feet.

Care Requirements

Gardenias thrive in locations that provide moderate to light shade, according to the Clemson University Extension. Plant in moist, well-drained soil with an acid pH and high levels of organic content; the addition of compost benefits the growth of deer-resistant gardenias. This high-maintenance plant performs best with drip irrigation, as it provides the consistent water gardenias need.

Deer Resistance

Deer are browsing animals that search for food and, once they find a good source, they return for more. With a preference for broadleaf plants, woody plants, annuals and perennials, deer destroy landscape plants by chewing plant parts or removing entire plants from the ground. Gardenias are known as deer-resistant and are "seldom damaged," according to the New Hanover County Cooperative Extension. While no plant is immune to deer feeding, resistance means your plants will likely remain unmarred if your home garden is a visiting spot for deer.


Cultivars of the deer-resistant gardenia include 'August Beauty,' which yields abundant flowers from spring to fall and reaches 4 to 6 feet in height. 'Golden Magic' displays golden-hued flowers and grows to a height of 3 feet. 'Mystery' is considered the best gardenia, with double blooms in white that reach up to 5 inches in diameter, with a total plant height of up to 8 feet, according to the Clemson University Extension.


Poorly drained soil, low humidity, improper watering and night temperatures that exceed 50 to 55 degrees F all cause problems, including insect infestations, diseases and bud drop, according to the Clemson University Extension. Maintain your deer-resistant gardenias according to their requirements for healthy plants. If you notice the presence of insects, any type of fungal growth or moldy substance on plant surfaces, or if the flowers fall from the plant before bud break, reassess your plant care and seek out control methods for your problem. For fungal infections, look for an appropriate fungicide if infection is severe. For insect pests, use a powerful stream of water to push insects from the plant or to identify an effective insecticide.

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