How to avoid deer damage?

If you want to avoid deer damage in your garden, swapping your geraniums for jasmine could be the answer, according to new research from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

As urban sightings of deer increase, the charity surveyed its members to understand which deer were most prevalent in gardens and their preferred plants for feeding on.

The researchers found that roe deer were the most commonly sighted (65%), followed by Reeves’ muntjac (41%) and fallow deer (9%) and of the 185 popular plant species investigated those least likely to survive a deer invasion were found to include tulips, roses and holly.

But 85 plants were largely shunned, incurring only minimal damage – defined as less than a 20% chance of damage – including Berberis, Primula and Nerine.

The findings have been released to coincide with the start of the growing season when fresh, young shoots appear and gardeners reported seeing most damage.

Jenny Bowden, Horticultural Advisor at the RHS, said: “Our findings suggest that deer have a taste for certain plants although it’s worth remembering that what is a food favourite in one garden might not be in another. While a little bit of damage won’t mean you’ll want to give up, if damage is sustained and bothersome switching to plants shown to be less appealing might do the trick. You never know, you might also be inspired to grow something new.”

Minimal chance of damage (<20%) Major chance of damage (>40%)
Daffodils Tulips
Daphne Roses
Bay Muscari
Globe thistle Geraniums
Red hot poker Holly
Butterfly bush Runner beans
Primula Raspberry
Rhubarb Camellias
Nerine Rhododendrons

Beyond considering what they plant, gardeners can also follow the below precautions:

  • Plant closer to the house and human activity
  • Protect all new plants with netting until established
  • Erect deer proof fencing to protect larger areas

For more information about deer in gardens visit

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