Will Deer Eat Dahlias?

Deer eat dahlias, although a lot of factors affect how likely they are to do so. Dahlias show up on lists of plants deer consume and on lists of plants deer don’t eat. Location, species and the number of deer in relationship to the food source affect what they eat. Protecting dahlias from being eaten by deer may involve obstacles or get downright stinky. Dahlias (Dahlia spp.) Grow in most of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones.

Foraging Deer

Several factors affect what deer consume. There are regional differences in types of deer, as well as their favored foods and their eating habits vary by season. Flower beds give nutritious fodder for hungry deer, so well-tended, fertilized dahlias can attract them. Dahlias supply vitamins and antioxidants. In a region where deer don’t typically eat dahlias, these vibrant flowers and fleshy greens may be decimated by deer if the deer population increases. Dahlias also become more attractive to deer if their favored sources of food become rare.

Tasty, Thirst-Quenching Dahlias

Deer enjoy herbaceous plants, and dahlias are herbaceous. Deer obtain about a third of all the moisture from plants, as stated by the University of Vermont Extension. The new growth and buds are particularly exposed to deer grazing. Short of going to Georgia or another location where Dahlias are recorded as “seldom overshadowed by deer” — together with full knowledge that your experience may vary — there is always a risk that deer may begin eating your own dahlias. The risk of dahlias getting deer food will be highest in early spring and in late summer through fall when deer food needs are highest.

Keeping Deer From Dining

Using protective measures may keep your dahlias from getting deer food. Strips of bubble wrap anchored with rocks around the flower bed perimeter might provide protection, if you can stand how it looks. Deer won’t measure on bubble wrapping, the Seattle Dahlia Society advises. Human scents might also be a deterrent to deer. Yet surrounding the garden with stinky shoes, as the Seattle Dahlia Society implies, might be worse than coping with foraging deer. Commercial and homemade repellents that make plants smell or taste awful vary in effectiveness. Read labels carefully and test on a small area of a plant to reduce the potential of damaging your dahlias.

Keeping Deer Out

If deterrent measures aren’t enough to guard your dahlias, it may be worth it to set up deer fencing. Based on your property, you may opt to set up a fence around one flowerbed, your whole garden or your entire property to keep out deer completely. Deer prefer to avoid tiny enclosures, so a 4-foot fence around the dahlia bed may do the trick. If you put in a wire fence, attach flags to the top wires to be certain the deer see the fence. They may jump and they don’t have strong eyesight.

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