Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Types of Flowers Deer Eat

Mule Deer image by Robert Ulph from

It's difficult to keep deer off your property and out of your garden. Deer love many of the same flowers home gardeners do and will not hesitate to nibble away at your hard work. The most successful way to prevent deer from wiping out your garden is to know which types of flowers they like to eat, and then avoid planting them. Instead, plant flowers deer are known to avoid, such as lily-of-the-valley.

Perennials, Bulbs, and Annuals

Deer are not picky. They will eat annuals, perennials and bulbs equally if given the opportunity, but they favor some above all others. Columbine, a perennial flower that is highly desired by many home gardeners for its ability to grow in the shade, is frequently damaged by deer, according to John W. Jett of West Virginia University. Deer also enjoy eating hosta, another shade perennial, and the beautiful Japanese painted fern. Deer will also eat bulb plants, including tulips (but not daffodils) and some lilies. Pansies, violas and buttercups are annual, spring-blooming favorites of home gardeners, and also some of deers' favorite foods.

Shrubs and Vines

Clematis is a beautiful and hardy flowering vine that comes in a wide variety of colors, including a popular deep blue. Deer love this plant, unfortunately. Hybrid roses are also a favorite of deer, much to the dismay of many home gardeners. Deer will gobble up oakleaf and bigleaf hydrangeas, which are the two largest hydrangea groups and feature masses of blooms as large as a foot across. Deer will eat all varieties of evergreen azaleas and rhododendron, and some varieties of the deciduous types as well. Deer also love to eat blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and several varieties of holly.

Flowering Trees

The blooms on some popular trees are highly favored by hungry deer. Apple, crabapple, cherry, pear and plum trees all offer up a buffet of delights for deer when they bloom in the spring. The saucer magnolia tree is also a favorite. Deer are particularly fond of the Cornellian cherry dogwood. In addition to flowers, they love the foliage on Japanese maples and Norway maples, and will even eat the needle-like foliage on some cypress and cedar trees.

Garden Guides