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How To Stop Deer From Eating Hydrangeas (Other Plants Too)

There’s nothing worse than planting your favorite hydrangea bush only to find out the deer love them as much as you do! I should know, as we planted 40 hydrangeas on our future home’s land and the deer ate most of them before we ever had a chance to enjoy them. Today I’ll share with you what I learned about how to stop deer from eating hydrangeas.

Deer behind a large hydrangea bush

Hydrangeas are planted around the world and are available in dozens of species. Some are more likely than others to become deer food, but the truth of the matter is that if deer are hungry enough, they can eat just about anything.

Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas?

Unfortunately, yes. Deer love the freshly grown, tender tips of the hydrangea plant. They are usually not attracted by the older leaves, but, of course, if they are really hungry, they’ll eat event those.

If you want to give your hydrangeas a better chance to survive, and don’t want to build a full-on fence, place wire cages around the smaller plants to protect them.

Another trick I learned this year in our garden was to plant hydrangeas surrounded by other leafy plants do that they blend in, and there’s not a lot of space around them. Deer won’t get into a tight space, and that will work to your advantage. 

Related: do deer eat tomatoes?

How to Stop Deer from Eating Hydrangeas

If you are wondering how to stop deer from eating your plants, and specifically your precocious hydrangeas, you are in a large group of people. There are an estimated 30 million deer in the US, and 77% of American households are gardening. That means there are going to be a lot of situations where deer and people are going to interact. Those gardening stats come to us from the National Gardening Survey

A record $47.8 billion dollars was spent on lawn and garden products in 2017, so having some deer chowing down on your plants and flowers is more than just frustrating … it can get expensive.

Here are a few proven tips to make your yard as deer-proof as possible and keep your beautiful hydrangea shrubs and climbing vines from becoming deer food.

1. Deer won’t eat this hydrangea variety

Climbing hydrangeas can reach heights of several dozen feet. This obviously puts them out of reach of hungry deer and other pests.

For whatever reasons, oakleaf hydrangeas don’t appear as tempting to deer as other varieties. The oakleaf variety produces white flowers (similar to the flowers of the climbing hydrangea), and you can use full-grown or dwarf plants.

Oakleaf HYDRANGEAwith Grand White Panicles Huge Oak Like Leaf(2 gallon) Oakleaf HYDRANGEA, Gorgoeus Native Plant,Huge Oak Like Leaf, Grand White Panicles-Ruby Slippers Oakleaf HydrangeaRuby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea Ruby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea - Hardy Perennial Heavy Rooted - One Trade Gallon Pot - 1 Plant by Growers SolutionLittle Honey Dwarf Oakleaf HydrangeaLittle Honey Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea Little Honey Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey')

2. Use this deer repellent recipe

Deer repellent recipe

Head into your kitchen and you can whip up a simple (and chemical-free) solution that won’t harm your plants. It also won’t hurt any deer or other animals that decide to give it a taste either, but it will sure make them seek yummier food.

Create this concoction:

  • one egg yolk
  • a liter of water
  • one teaspoon baking powder

Mix well and apply with a sprayer that has a head with a large hole or holes so that the gooey mixture can get through (this one is perfect for the job). Spray every 2 weeks and after rain. This is a deer-resistant solution for hydrangeas that works in all weather and especially well in hot and sunny areas. The deer will take a bite and give up because of the smell (and no, humans won’t smell the egg).

3. Soap up your landscape

Thinking about how to stop deer from eating hydrangeas may not get you dreaming about a perfumed soak in a hot bath. However, what refreshes you at the end of a long day of gardening has something in common with deer proofing your yard … perfumed soap.

No, you are not going to run deer off by bathing them. Instead, hang deodorant soap or your favorite perfumed soap on trees or plants near your hydrangeas. This is an old-school trick that works well to keep deer away.

4. Grow these plants near your hydrangeas

Plant lilies, pansies, and tulips and you are basically saying, “All deer are welcome here.” Deer love those plants, as well as hostas and knockout roses, arborvitae, apple, and cherry trees.

When you decide instead to plant daffodils and boxwoods, spirea, and lavender, you send the opposite message. Those are a few plants deer usually steer clear from, as well as butterfly bushes and beautyberries, foxglove, and poppies.

5. Use an electric fence around your hydrangeas

If you have lots of hydrangea plants, you might want to invest in an electric fence. Wrap this fence around them and enjoy your hydrangea blooms without worrying about deer. 

6. Cover your hydrangeas in deer netting

Ross Deer Netting and Fencing Reusable (Protection For Trees and Shrubs From Animals) 7 feet x 100 feetRoss Deer Netting and Fencing Reusable (Protection For Trees and Shrubs From Animals) 7 feet x 100 feetRoss Deer Netting and Fencing Reusable (Protection For Trees and Shrubs From Animals) 7 feet x 100 feet Many gardeners have had success using deer netting. you can find this at your local Home Depot or Loews, but if they don’t have it, try Amazon (they have several inexpensive options). This netting is very lightweight and almost invisible. Drape it on the bush and anchor it in the ground with some wooden stakes.

There’s only one disadvantage with this method:  as your hydrangea bush grows, it will grow through the netting. and need careful removal when the flowers and leaves fall in the fall: a small price for having your hydrangeas all to yourself ;).

7. Keep a radio on in your hydrangea bush at night

As funny and as far fetched that sounds, it’s all my neighbor uses in his massive vegetable garden, and the deer never dare to come in. To make it easy, choose a solar-powered radio and place it in the middle of your hydrangea garden. Then occasionally change the station. Problem solved!

I hope you can now enjoy your hydrangeas instead of fighting the deer for them.

Here’s how to landscape your front yard with hydrangeas, so you can enjoy their beauty.

Did you catch Bambi munching on your hydrangeas? Let me know in the comments section below: I’d love a picture of it to share here on the blog.

Deer behind a hydrangea bush
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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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Robert Young

Monday 6th of May 2024

Grate Irish Spring soap and spread in your flower beds. Will deter deer from eating your plants. I had to use a couple of times but it does work.

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chris Montgomery

Sunday 10th of July 2022

I have been using the deer urine spray that nurseries carry. So far, works great!