Do Deer Eat Impatiens?

The purpose of this article is to provide information on deer browsing habits and their impact on impatiens, as well as offer suggestions for deer-resistant plant alternatives and methods for protecting impatiens and other plants from deer damage. So without any further ado, let’s dive right in.

Deer Diet and Browsing Habits

A. General Deer Diet Overview

Deer are opportunistic herbivores that will eat a wide variety of plant material, including leaves, stems, and flowers. They are known to consume both woody and herbaceous plants and will also eat fruits and nuts.

B. Factors Influencing Deer Food Choices

  1. Seasonal Changes: Deer food choices can vary depending on the time of year. In the spring and summer, they tend to consume more herbaceous plants, while in the fall and winter, they turn to woody plants and browse.
  2. Food Availability: Deers will consume whatever food is available to them in their habitat. If a certain type of plant is abundant, they will eat it, even if it is not their preferred food.
  3. Deer Population Density: Higher deer population densities can lead to increased browsing pressure on plants, as there are more deer competing for food.

Impatiens and Deer

A. Are Impatiens a Preferred Food Source for Deer?

Impatiens are not a preferred food source for deer. They are not as nutritious or palatable as other plants that deer prefer to eat.

B. Factors Contributing to Deer Browsing on Impatiens

  1. Nutritional Content: Impatiens have a low nutritional content compared to other plants, which can make them a less attractive option for deer. However, if other food sources are scarce, deer may turn to impatiens as a last resort.
  2. Palatability: Impatiens have a bitter taste and are not very palatable to deer. However, this can vary depending on the individual deer and their preferences.
  3. Proximity to Other Food Sources: If impatiens are located near other food sources that deer prefer, such as fruit trees or vegetable gardens, they may still be browsed on.

Deer-Resistant Plant Alternatives

A. Overview of Deer-Resistant Plants

Deer-resistant plants are those that deer are less likely to browse on. These plants tend to have characteristics such as strong smells, prickly leaves, or bitter taste.

B. Specific Plant Suggestions

  1. Perennials Deer-resistant perennial options include lavender, yarrow, and Russian sage.
  2. Annuals Marigolds, snapdragons, and zinnias are all deer-resistant annual options.
  3. Some deer-resistant shrubs and tree options include boxwood, holly, and juniper.

Protecting Impatiens and Other Plants from Deer Damage

A. Fencing Options

  1. Traditional Fencing: Traditional fencing, such as chain link or wooden fencing, can be effective at keeping deer out of a garden. However, it can be expensive and may not be visually appealing.
  1. Electric Fencing: Electric fencing can also be used to keep deer out of a garden. It is less expensive than traditional fencing and can be easily installed. However, it does require regular maintenance and can be dangerous if not installed properly.

B. Repellents

  1. Commercial Deer Repellents: There are several commercial deer repellents available, such as Liquid Fence and Deer Off. These products work by emitting a scent or taste that deer find unpleasant. However, they may need to be reapplied frequently and can be expensive.
  2. Home Remedies: There are also several home remedies that can be used as deer repellents, such as garlic and hot pepper spray. These remedies may be less expensive than commercial repellents but may not be as effective.

C. Other Deterrents

  1. Scare Tactics: Scare tactics, such as hanging shiny objects or using scarecrows, can be effective at deterring deer. However, they may lose their effectiveness over time as deer become accustomed to them.
  2. Planting Sacrificial Plants: Planting sacrificial plants, such as clover or alfalfa, can also be effective at diverting deer away from other plants. However, this may not be a practical option for smaller gardens.


A. Recap of Key Points

Deer can cause significant damage to plants, including impatiens, through browsing and rubbing. Impatiens are not a preferred food source for deer, but they may still be browsed on if other food sources are scarce. Deer-resistant plant alternatives and various methods for protecting plants from deer damage exist, including fencing, repellents, scare tactics, and planting sacrificial plants.

B. Encouragement to Try Various Methods to Protect Impatiens and Other Plants from Deer

Browsing Gardeners are encouraged to try various methods to protect their impatiens and other plants from deer browsing, as what works for one garden may not work for another. A combination of deterrent methods may be most effective.

C. Final Thoughts on Maintaining a Healthy and Deer-Resistant Garden

Maintaining a healthy and deer-resistant garden requires ongoing effort and vigilance. By understanding deer browsing habits and utilizing deterrent methods, gardeners can enjoy the beauty of impatiens and other plants without worrying about deer damage.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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