Do Deer Eat Rhododendrons? (How To Protect It!)

If you have deer visiting your place frequently, initially, it may seem adorable, butt it will laterbecomeo a headache. Deers are harmless wild animals who wander around in search of food. Sometimes they wander too far from the forests and visit the nearby settlements in search of food. They will happily munch on all the plants and veggies in your garden without being much picky!

Although, deer generally avoid rhododendrons because the pollen and nectar is harmful for them. If they can find other plants nearby, deer will usually not eat rhododendrons.

Do Deer Eat Rhododendrons? ways to protect rhododendrons from deer

Do deer eat rhododendrons?

Rhododendron is a type of shrub that is treated mostly as a medicinal plant. It has toxin substances that work as anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective activities, which treat several illnesses. But the toxins contained in the pollen and nectar of the flowers in the plant are harmful to the cattle. The honey made by the bees from rhododendrons is too harmful to be consumed and is often termed, wild honey.

These facts make it much clear that deer do not eat rhododendrons usually if they have other options to eat. However, deer will feast on these plants mostly during winters, when the availability of food is limited. They love the sweet taste of the leaves.

This is because the leaves contain tannin, which offers sweetness to the leaves. The newly budding leaves have more sweetness than the older ones, which makes the deer addicted to the plants as they wait for the new leaves to come. They have an alluring smell, too, which can attract deer from afar!

Normally, many plants have such types of leaves with calcium oxalate crystals that are needle-like and can cause an upset stomach when eaten. Rhododendrons do not contain many of these crystals, making it preferable for wild animals to feed on and digest.

But among all these discussions, the most important factor that makes rhododendrons favored by the deers is that these plants are available in plenty in the wilderness and grow very quickly. 

How do I keep deer from eating my rhododendrons?

If you plan to grow these plants in your garden, keep them out of the reach of wild deer. Although they do not choose to eat rhododendrons in case others are available, scarcity of food will make them a target. So, now that we know do deer eat rhododendrons or not, here are some smart ways to protect your rhododendrons and other plants from feasting on by wild deer.

How do I keep deer from eating my rhododendrons

Surround your garden with a fence

The best way to protect your garden from deer and other wild animals is to secure your garden with a fence. You need to use a fence at least 3-4 meters taller than the normal one so the deer cannot jump into your garden. The material of the fence should be strong so that the deer will not chew them up. 

There is also a wide use of electric fences. These fences are made with a material that is the conductor of electricity and has electricity running through it 24×7. Although these fences have good service in protecting your backyard from deer, they can be dangerous for the owners and wild animals.

Make your deer repellants

There are several ingredients that the deer hates. You can make use of them to make your deer repellant. You can put some human hair around the plants to keep the deer away from your rhododendrons, as they do not like them.

Deers avoid substances that have a strong smell. They are herbivorous animals and normally dislike the smell of anything that is not plant-based. You can mix eggs and water to make a solution and spray it in your garden, which will keep the deers miles away from your garden. 

Several plants are deer resistant. Some of those are rosemary, rue, holly, garlic, and oregano, which will keep the deers away if you plant them in your garden.

Give a try deer nets

Deer nets are a type of structured wire that appears similar to the fence but has a more specific use. They can be used to cover the small shoots of the rhododendron plants. These nets have tiny holes for sunlight and air to pass through, but it is difficult for the deer to get access through these nets.

Use props to scare the deer away

You can use several props to scare the deer away from your yard. Scarecrows can be a nice option to choose which will work for deers too! They seem humanlike, and if a deer spots the figure from far, it will not consider coming near your garden.

How do I keep deer from eating my rhododendrons

Sprinklers that are fitted with sensors can be used too. They activate and will sprinkle water on someone coming near the plants.

Will rhododendron leaves grow back after deer eat them?

Rhododendrons have rapid growth characteristics and are found in abundance in forests. They are easy to rejuvenate through proper pruning. If some parts of your rhododendron plant are eaten up, you do not have to worry much.

If they are provided with ideal conditions for growth, the plant will grow back smoothly. These easy to care plants can sustain minor deer attacks and will come back as a new ones!

What animals will eat rhododendrons?

Other than the deer, several other wild animals will wander around your garden and can eat up your rhododendron plants. Some of these are:

What animals will eat rhododendrons
  • Rabbits-  You can easily spot wild rabbits nibbling on the vegetation in your backyard. These are adorable animals to look at, but not that sweet when they appear near the garden. They will eat your rhododendrons not by choice but when food availability is scarce.
  • Squirrels- Similar to rabbits, rhododendrons are also favored by squirrels when there is limited food in the surroundings. Since they are quick eaters, you will see the leaves of the flowers half-eaten or the stems of the flowers broken if a squirrel feast on them.
  • Caterpillars- Any plant with a good growth of leaves can have a caterpillar. Caterpillars feed on the leaves to go from larva and tgen into a full-grown butterflies. If spotted, small holes on the leaves, are proof that your rhododendrons probablyyour rhododendrons probably have a cone in the target of the caterpillars.

Other than these animals, there are several other animals, and insects like weevils, spider mites, lace bugs, and wild cows can feed on your rhododendrons.

You May Also Find Useful: Do Deer Eat Oranges? | Do Deer Eat Potato Plants?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do coffee grounds keep deer away?

Deers, like dogs, have a strong sense of smell and can smell food from long distances. They do not like strong smells, and caffeine is one of them. Deers do not like the smell of coffee and tend to keep themselves away from the coffee grounds.

What is a good deer deterrent?

You can make your homemade deer deterrents with a bit smelly substances. You can use garlic and eggs as deer repellants which are easy to make and will keep the deer away from your yard.

What smell do deer hate the most?

Deers do not come near plants that have a strong smell. They avoid plants like garlic, cloves, rosemary, oregano, and mint and hate the smell of all these.

What colors are deer afraid of?

Deers are herbivorous animals and therefore do not come near meat or blood. Likewise, deers do not like the color red as they are similar to blood. But colors do not affect much for scarring away the deer because they cannot differentiate in colors as humans can.

Is Rhododendron maximum deer resistant?

No, rhododendrons are not the maximum deer resistant because deer will also eat up the plant with limited food availability. But rhododendrons have several toxin substances that are harmful to the deer, which makes it not much preferable to the deer.


Rhododendron is a genus with a wide range of varieties, but most are not deer resistant. As we learned do deer eat rhododendrons or not, we can surely understand one thing that they can easily reach the target of wild deer when food sources are scarce. Usually, in winter, the season is dry, and the vegetation becomes limited. These are when wild animals wander outside the forests in search of food.

 Rhododendrons grow in abundance and are henceforth preferred by the deers. Once they habituate to these plants, they may also target the ones in your garden.

If you want to safeguard your plants from getting damaged by the deer, it is best to monitor the situation for a while and then take the necessary steps.

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