Do Deer Eat Gardenias? (Answered + Tips For Deer Resistant Gardens)

There is no doubt about it, deer are a menace to the home gardener. Keeping them away can sometimes feel like an insurmountable challenge.

Many home gardeners recommend planting a deer-resistant garden. This means growing plants that deer don’t eat, or more to the point, don’t like the taste or texture in their mouth. Gardenias are supposed to fall into this category, but do deer eat gardenias?

Do Deer Eat Gardenias

We answer this question and more in today’s article on the Garden Bench Top.

We’ll also run provide you with some other helpful tips like the signs to look for when deer attack your garden, as well as how to deter them from treating your garden like a salad bar.

But first to the question of the day…

Do Deer Eat Gardenias?

Do deer eat gardenias
credit: Unsplash

As mentioned earlier, gardenias are considered to be deer-resistant shrubs. We say ‘resistant’ only because hungry deer can and will still eat gardenias if they have no other option. They are said to be resistant because deer are not partial to the taste of gardenias.

Deer don’t like the taste or texture, and will eat other plants over gardenias

In fact, gardenias and their white flowers don’t get much love from other large animals due to their taste and smell. It is important to note, gardenias are actually toxic plants to horses and other common household pets like dogs and cats.

If you have noticed that someone or something is eating your gardenias, it is likely to be a caterpillar or small insect.

How To Keep Deer Away From Gardenias?

How To Keep Deer Away From Gardenias?
Credit: Unsplash

If you are still worried that the local deer will still munch on your gardenia bushes, there are a few things you can do to deter them.

  • Plant your gardenias with other deer resistant plants. Sometimes there is power in numbers. Planting your gardenias with other plants that deer don’t particularly fancy can be enough to make them move away from your garden. Some other deer resistant plants include cucumbers, lavender flowers, salvia and Russian sage. The smells and aromas emitted by these plants are extremely off-putting to deer.
  • Spray deer-repellent around your garden. As you may have already guessed, deer are sensitive to strong scents. There are commercial products available online and at your local nursery. However, you can even use everyday items around the house to repel deer. Some gardeners swear by a spray bottle filled with a mixture of raw eggs, garlic and chili powder misted around the garden is enough to keep deer away.
  • Soap on a Rope. Another strong odor deer don’t like is soap. It could be that deer associate the smell of soap with humans, and therefore, it makes them extra cautious. Or it could simply be that they don’t like the smell. Whatever the reason, it is an effective method for keeping them out of your garden.

Will Gardenias Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

If you are lucky, a deer will only have taste tested your gardenia, rather than using it as the main course. And if this is the case, most healthy plants will make a full recovery with their white and pink flowers from their battle with the deer.

However, if you are unfortunate enough to have a starving deer in your garden, it may have decimated your gardenia bush. If this is the case, we’d recommend pruning back any broken branches off the bush and bringing it back to the core of the plant. With the right treatment and care, your gardenia will recover, but it will take a while to regain its full form once again.

What are the Symptoms of Deer Damage?

Symptoms of Deer Damage

Believe it or not, but these dainty looking creatures are actually quite messy eaters.

If you find your gardenia plants with torn leaves, and branches stripped of their white flowers and leaves, it is likely that the local deer have visited your garden.

They will leave broken and snapped branches in their wake as they tug and chew the gardenia bushes (plus any other tasty treats in your garden).

The easiest way to spot them are their hoof print marks on the ground, and the elongated pellet shaped scat left behind.

Final Thoughts on Do Deer Eat Gardenias

We all know deer can be extremely damaging to your garden. However, there are certain measures you can take to protect your precious plants from deer. This includes planting deer-resistant plants like gardenias throughout your garden. Pair them up with other deer-resistant plants and hopefully the deer will move onto greener pastures.

You can also prevent deer from eating other parts of the garden by spraying deer deterrent smells, like garlic, eggs and chilli. Or simply hang a few soap bars around the perimeter of your garden to keep deer at bay.