Skip to Content

Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas? What You Need to Know

Beautiful and hardy, the hydrangea plant is very popular. Do deer eat hydrangeas? Yes, on some occasions deer eat hydrangeas. Because hydrangea bushes are quite attractive.

If deer eat hydrangeas, they will cause some damage to these valuable shrubs. While there are several effective ways of protecting your prized plants from hungry deer.

What are Hydrangeas?

Colorful Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are flowering plants native to North America, Asia, and Europe. They grow well in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Hydrangea species include bigleaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla), smooth hydrangeas (H. arborescens), and oakleaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia).

Oakleaf and big leaf hydrangeas are known for their large mophead flowers; smooth hydrangea flowers resemble those of the wild blue phlox. Hydrangea varieties come in different colors, including pink, purple and white. Hydrangea bushes are quite beautiful.

Hydrangea blooms best during May. They are also considered prickly plants. Some animals would eat them, just like some deer love hydrangeas due to their bushes.

See Related: List of Most Endangered Deer Species

What Do Hydrangeas Look Like?

do deer eat hydrangeas?

The hydrangea shrubs can grow up to five feet. Their blooms are over one foot in diameter. Hydrangeas have a dark-green color and broad leaves that can grow up to four inches long.

The bigleaf hydrangea has a sturdy green stem. Smooth hydrangeas have a softer green stem.

They are taller and more slender than the bigleaf variety. Oakleaf hydrangeas feature small, dark blue-green leaves with scalloped edges, creating a fernlike appearance.

See Related: Are Corked Trees Endangered? Things May Not Be What They Seem

Can hydrangeas grow anywhere?

Flower bed

No, hydrangeas can’t grow everywhere. This is because the plant requires lots of sun and well-drained soil to thrive. They can’t grow in cold climates either.

This is because hydrangeas love the sun. If they don’t get enough of it, the shrub will stop growing and produce fewer flowers.

Hydrangeas prefer acidic soil pH levels, which makes them very adaptable to different soils. However, too much acidity can cause leaf roll and premature drop of blooms.

See Related: Animals that Start With V

How Do You Grow Hydrangeas?

Guy gardener in garden gloves puts the pots with seedlings in the white wooden box on the table and a girl prunes plants
Leika production / Adobe Stock

Gardening enthusiasts love planting hydrangeas. Growing healthy hydrangea plants begins with planting hydrangeas in the right location.

Bigleaf hydrangeas require full to partial sunlight and prefer loamy, nutrient-rich soil. Oakleaf hydrangeas need partial to full sun, but they grow best in slightly acidic soil. Oakleaf hydrangeas are quite a popular type. All three types of plants also benefit from additional organic material, such as peat moss, composted leaves, or manure.

Water hydrangeas regularly during the first growing season to establish a deep root system. As established plants, they are relatively drought-tolerant and only need watering in times of extreme dryness. Hydrangea plants are heavy feeders and require fertilizer enriched with nitrogen, iron, and manganese every spring.

See Related: Animals With Best Sense of Smell

What are Deer Resistant Hydrangeas?

Small Deer in a Field

These kinds of hydrangeas differ from other types of hydrangea in several ways. They have smaller, more compact blooms that do not project above the leaves.

This makes them less visible to deer and rabbits that feed on leaves and flowers. They also have an unpleasant taste that discourages deer from even trying to eat them.

They are fine choices for gardeners who are faced with protecting their prized plants from hungry deer.

See Related: War and Effect on Wildlife

Are there any deer-resistant hydrangea varieties?

Group of Deers in Nara, Japan
WANG Tianfang / Unsplash

Some of the best deer-proof varieties of hydrangea include:

See Related: What is the Hunter’s Role in Wildlife Conservation?

Most beautiful varieties of hydrangeas:

See Related: Most Comfortable Animals in the World

How to Plant Deer Resistant Hydrangeas


The best time to plant them is in early spring, right after the last frost. To plant, dig a hole for each plant 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill half the hole with soil from your garden and half with compost or manure.

Mix the two, then place each bush in its hole a few inches away from other hydrangeas or plants that attract deer. Finally, thoroughly fill the remaining hole with soil and water each plant. The best way to take care of them is to plant them in a spot where hungry deer will not bother them.

This means planting far away from areas frequented by deer and rabbits for best results.

See Related: Best Wildlife Conservation Jobs

How do I protect my Hydrangea from deer?

Girls working on home garden
shintartanya / Adobe Stock

It’s important to make your yard as unpleasant for deer as possible. Using a strong noxious odor, such as Irish soap, cinnamon, or excessively fragrant herbs, deter them. Plant only the hydrangeas that are somewhat deer-resistant when compared with other species.

Deer repellents come in a variety of forms to keep your prized plants safe from hungry deer. When danger appears imminent, one popular choice is to spray flora with a soy-based or castor oil-based repellent.

These treatments must be repeated after rain or other irrigation. Another idea is to hang human hair cylinders around the plants. If you cannot protect your hydrangea plant from a hungry deer, planting some different varieties can give deer a choice of what to eat.

Another way of protecting your hydrangeas from hungry deer is to build a fence around your entire garden. If you have enough room, building a taller fence will further deter deer from coming into your garden.

See Related: What is the Goal of Wildlife Conservation

What if Deer Damage is Already Present?

are deer salt licks illegal

If deer have already begun eating your hydrangeas, you can do nothing. In this instance, you may cut off any damaged stems and put on a fresh coat of deer repellent after each rain.

See Related: Best Books on Endangered Species

Will Hydrangeas grow back if eaten by deer?

Man feeding a carrot to a deer in Marselisborg Deer Park
Tobias / Unsplash

The good news is that hydrangeas are surprisingly resilient, most surviving intensive nibbling. It also helps that deer seldom eat flowers in that area. Those experimenting with new methods to protect plants will want younger plants. Younger plants are more susceptible to harm if you try to preserve them from browsing.

If the deer in your area frequently eat your plants’ young and tender shoots, you will want to protect them more effectively.

See Related: Endangered Species in California

Another threat to your hydrangeas

In a short time, insects can severely harm your plant. Insects generally create small holes in the foliage or within its margins. To remove insects from plants without using pesticides, carefully pick them off. Pesticides may end up contaminating local ecosystem life if they’re used on bushes.

Beetles that attack leaves and floral plants include: Common insects are Beetles that pierce leaf and foliage.

Although the beetles are tiny, their big weight indicates they enjoy munching on your shrub. Removing pests from the soil in your garden is the most effective technique to eliminate all irritants.

See Related: Why Animals So Big in the Past?

Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas?

A deer peacefully grazing on vibrant hydrangea flowers in a premium photo.

Do deer eat hydrangeas? Yes, deer eat some of them, but deer prefer other plants. Deer are herbivores who dine on leaves, shoots, grasses, fruits, and vegetables. Deer rarely dine on flowers, though. The only thing flower-eaters do is indulge in the nectar produced, thereby insects, such as bees and hummingbirds.

This nectar is mostly made of sugar water with some minerals to make it not harmful or poisonous for them to drink or eat.”

Since deer browse selectively rather than indiscriminately grazing on anything that looks good to them, nothing would likely discourage their eating of your hydrangeas unless forced away from your property.

See Related: How Similar is Human DNA to Other Animals

Final Thoughts

Closeup shot of deer grazing in the wilderness

For many years, the struggle between gardeners and local deer populations has continued. Because sometimes deer tend to eat our precious plants. These creatures will not damage your garden or beautiful roses and hydrangeas, so don’t worry about it.

There’s usually a reason why they don’t consume their favorite foods, such as a scarcity of resources, urbanization, or sickness; all you have to do is take advantage of it and do some deer-proofing methods.

Just use deer repellent spray and enjoy your beautiful flowers. We can also use other deer repellents like deer candy and fencing.

Deer can eat hydrangeas if they want to, but they know not to. They only choose to depend on their mood or whether or not there is another food source around.

See Related: Animals That Have Been Extinct in the Last 1001 Years


What is Deer Candy?

Deer candy is a mixture of mixed ingredients. The ingredients are molasses, corn syrup, sugar water, and apples or grapes/raisins. Once these ingredients are combined in the correct ratios, you can coat plants to keep deer away.

What are Limelight hydrangeas?

Limelight hydrangeas are the cultivar of Hydrangea macrophylla. The blooms tend to be smaller than other varieties, but they stand upright better.

They can be grown into nice round bushes with dense foliage. The flowers are smaller than other varieties but come in larger clusters and last longer on the plant before fading. These flowers tend to be pink in early spring and white when mature.

Related Resources