Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas?


Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas?

One of life’s joys is planting hydrangeas and watching them blossom. However, you’ve discovered that a nocturnal grazer has turned your Hydrangea plant into a snack. Although you are suspicious of the neighborhood Bambi, do deer eat hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas are eaten by deer, especially the leaves. The primary component of a deer’s diet is soft, young foliage, like that on hydrangea bushes. Strongly scented or having fuzzy leaves can reduce deer damage in hydrangea species. Deer that browse on hydrangea bushes are especially dangerous to young leaves and shoots.

What can you do to keep deer from destroying your hydrangeas? perhaps you are wondering. Verifying that deer are the true culprits is the first step. Because if deer aren’t the problem, there is no value in implementing deer-proof methods. Finding the most effective methods to keep deer away from your hydrangeas is the next step.

This manual will assist you with both procedures. And shortly you’ll arrive at a yard brimming with lovely hydrangeas in bloom.

Let’s get going.

Do Deer like hydrangeas?

Hydrangea leaves, branches, and foliage will be the first things deer eat. The hydrangea flower heads will then come under attack. The deer prefer the green sections because they have all the energy, water, and nutrition they require to flourish and maintain good health. Because they can be fairly fragrant, hydrangea flowers may deter some deer from eating them.

The best hydrangea plants for feeding deer are those that have young, vibrantly green buds and shoots. A deer won’t think twice about removing the majority of a young hydrangea shrub in a single night.

However, a deer will consume a hydrangea shrub at any stage of its development. That means if there are deer in your neighborhood, you’ll need to protect your hydrangeas. To learn more about what deer consume in the wild, read this guide.

Is it a deer eating your hydrangeas?

Is It A Deer Eating Your Hydrangeas?

The diet of deer, a nocturnal herbivore, consists of foliage, plants, fruits, and vegetables. These items naturally grow in the deer habitat and give the animals the food and energy they require.

Deer that frequent close-by cities will frequently stray into your backyard and eat your vegetation. Deer have access to great phosphorus sources in plants like hydrangeas. This crucial mineral is required for the development of robust bones and antlers.

Deer will eat both the flowers and the hydrangea bush, although they prefer the latter. Deer enjoy young, soft-textured hydrangea plants. However, they will also consume mature hydrangea shrubs and blossoms.

Hydrangeas with deer bites are easily recognized. When eating, deer are not delicate. They’ll remove significant portions of a hydrangea shrub. A deer frequently nibbles off all the leaves and flowers but keeps the stalks.

A deer will first choose the vegetation that is at mouth level, which is approximately 3 feet (92 cm) off the ground. The deer will consume your hydrangea plant from the top down if it is smaller than this.

Deer don’t eat methodically, thus the damaged sections could be dispersed over the top or center of the hydrangea shrub. The plant’s base is mostly left alone, but occasionally deer will eat the hydrangea bark.

Signs you have deer in your yard are:

There are other telltale signs that can help you identify whether a deer is the animal consuming your hydrangeas.

  • Large, jagged biting marks on the leaves of your plants
  • plants that have only their stems left
  • Eaten from the top down, plants
  • Marble-sized deer feces
  • Deer footprints

You probably have a deer problem on your hands if you’ve seen any of these in your yard. You must research strategies to keep deer out of your yard. Continue reading the rest of his guide for assistance with that.

It’s possible that you missed all of these indications. It may still be a deer approaching your yard, but it can be difficult to be certain. You can either wait for them to leave some proof that will be used against them. They run the risk of destroying more of your plants.

Or, if you want to be certain, you may use a cheap trail camera (like this) to attack the plant pest head-on.

What other Animals eat hydrangeas?

The issue is that other animals might also be consuming your hydrangeas besides deer. Let’s investigate whether other animals might be at fault.


Birds can be a nuisance because they consume the blooms on hydrangeas. Usually finches are the ones who would do this, however sparrows will also pluck flower buds.

The majority of bird damage to your hydrangeas comes from the buds or a rare twig used to help build a nest. The damage a deer will cause over the course of an entire night dwarfs any harm a bird may cause.


Depending on the species, insects can harm your hydrangea plants quite a bit in a short amount of time. Despite their diminutive size, they nonetheless harm your hydrangea shrub because of the sheer number of them that may do so.

Typically, insects will make little holes near the edges or in the leaves. The extent of the damage may be indicated by a mild browning, curled edges, or a complete death of the leaves.

Typical insects that will attack your hydrangea plants’ foliage and blossoms include:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Asian Chafers
  • Pink Chafers
  • Thrips
  • arachnid mites
  • Aphids

Picking insects by hand is the safest approach to get rid of them from your plants. Use of insecticides on hydrangea plants should be avoided because the surrounding wildlife may be harmed by the toxins.

Squirrels & Chipmunks

Your hydrangeas may be being eaten by squirrels. Squirrels frequently enter hydrangea bushes to eat the flower heads.

The loss of flower heads is frequently the result of a squirrel devouring a hydrangea. Since squirrels prefer the bloom to the foliage, the latter will probably go unattended.

Furthermore, a squirrel’s weight may have caused some of the hydrangea bush’s branches to bend downward.

Squirrels and chipmunks are related, although chipmunks prefer to eat leaves to flowers. Your hydrangeas are typically damaged by chipmunks by their digging under the plants and ripping off the roots. Your hydrangea bush may die off entirely or even partially as a result of this.

Caterpillars and Bees

Normally, pollinators like butterflies and bees don’t do much harm to your hydrangea bushes. They eat the flower nectar and continue without leaving much of a trace.

The issue is that moths and butterflies can lay their eggs on your hydrangea bush. This implies that hungry caterpillars will turn the hydrangea bush into a source of food when their eggs hatch. Any component of the plant can be consumed by a caterpillar.

Another variety of bees that can harm your hydrangeas is the leafcutter bee. You’ll see conspicuous holes in the leaf edges that resemble semicircles. However, excessive leafcutter bee damage might make it appear as though an animal has been munching on the hydrangea leaves.

Slugs and Snails

Hydrangea plants are a favorite food of slugs and snails. They will mostly consume fresh plant growth or branches.

The slugs and snails, which are nocturnal like deer, perform the majority of their damage at night. The harm to your hydrangea bush can be fairly severe if there are enough of them.

Slugs and snails typically leave a silvery trail all around your plant, making it easy to identify the problem. In contrast to deer, they will rip numerous small, ragged holes across the leaves.

Will Hydrangeas Grow Back if Eaten by Deer?

Because they are tough, hydrangeas can bounce back from a deer’s meal. Deer that are actively grazing favor the top and central portions of the plant. Backup flowers on hydrangeas will eventually bloom to aid the plant’s recovery from the deer’s initial injury.

Deer can be persistent, returning to the same plant repeatedly until it is entirely barren. It’s improbable that the hydrangea would survive in this situation. In other words, a hydrangea plant will survive a single deer assault but is unlikely to recover from two or more deer attacks.

It’s crucial to install deterrents after a deer consumes your hydrangea to prevent them from returning to your yard in search of this convenient food source.

How to Protect Hydrangea from Deer

Preventing deer from wanting to enter your yard is the greatest approach to stop them from eating your hydrangeas. Making your yard as miserable for them as you can is the key. Make them uncomfortable or irritable so they won’t stay and eat. See my list of 14 simple methods to keep deer out of your garden.

You can try to prevent deer from eating particular plants if you don’t mind them strolling through your yard. Use strong, repulsive smells to deter them, such as Irish soap, spices, or extremely fragrant plants.

To keep the deer away from your hydrangeas, you might need to employ a variety of various deterrents.

Planting only specific hydrangea species that seem to be a little more deer-resistant than others is one tactic you can employ.

Which Hydrangea is Deer resistant?

Deer are not immune to hydrangeas as a plant. Deer will still eat them if given the chance even though they are not their favorite food. However, gardeners have discovered that some hydrangea are much more effective at scaring off deer than others.

Annabelle Hydrangea

The best kind of hydrangea to plant to deter deer would seem to be Annabelle. Around June and July, the gorgeous, delicate white flowers on these hydrangeas will bloom.

Limelight Hydrangea

Another favorite of gardeners for repelling deer is limelight hydrangea. These hydrangeas have a delicate green bloom that typically blooms between July and the beginning of October.

Endless Summer Hydrangea

Gardeners love the endless summer variations. They have that gorgeous pink, purple, and blue ombre look. Although it can be hit or miss with them truly, deer will still try this variety. Hydrangeas with an endless summer bloom from May to September.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Oakleaf hydrangeas are not avoided by deer, but they can be picky about when they eat them. Deer frequently allow plants to flourish in the summer, but in the fall and winter, they completely destroy them. As the oakleaf hydrangea grows on new branches every year, this can benefit the plant. The plant is naturally pruned when deer consume them in the winter.

It is unknown whether the hydrangea kinds used by these gardeners or any other deer deterrents were effective in keeping deer away. You could encounter some gardeners who claim that deer are particularly drawn to some hydrangea kinds, but this advice is largely anecdotal.

But these are the ones to try first if you’re searching for hydrangeas that can thrive and possibly scare off deer. Try your other deterrent strategies if they continue to come around snacking.

Final thoughts

Yes, deer enjoy eating hydrangeas. They won’t rush to eat them, but if they regard them as a pleasant and convenient food source, they will happily munch on them.

The way deer eat vegetation makes them unique. They frequently leave behind significant damage as well as a few other telltale symptoms. Before installing deterrents, make sure you have a deer problem.

By planting select hydrangea cultivars like Annabelle or limelight, you can get off to a good start. However, you can put up barriers to stop previously eaten hydrangeas from regrowing.

Deer will be permanently kept out of your yard if you have a range of deterrents there. In this manner, you can convince them to completely avoid your garden rather than having to discourage them for certain plants.


What Hydrangea do Deer not eat?

Particularly climbing and oakleaf hydrangeas are not as tasty to deer. If you reside in a region where there is a high deer population, we advise planting these types. You can cover hydrangeas in the winter to stop deer from nibbling on the branches.

What animal is eating my Hydrangea?

Hydrangea plants are a favorite food of slugs and snails. They will mostly consume fresh plant growth or branches. The slugs and snails, which are nocturnal like deer, perform the majority of their damage at night. The harm to your hydrangea bush can be fairly severe if there are enough of them.

Will Hydrangeas grow back after deer eat them?

Yes! Fortunately, hydrangeas are tough plants and will bounce back even if deer accidentally eat some of them. This is also true because the majority of deer just consume the tops of your favorite flowers.

How do I protect my Hydrangeas from deer in the winter?

Additionally, you can purchase deer repellent spray to spray on hydrangea branches and foliage. Typically, to keep your protection, you must reapply every 30 days. This is the simplest method for keeping deer away from your hydrangeas.

Are all hydrangeas Deer resistant?

Are hydrangeas immune to deer? The quick response is no. Deer enjoy nibbling on the delicate tips, flowers, and leaves of hydrangeas.


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Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author