Do deer eat zinnias? Let’s find out

If you live in an area with a high deer population and have some beautiful zinnia plants in your garden, I’m sure you’re wondering if deer can wreak havoc on your plants. There’s some interesting information surrounding your concern, and this article covers it all for you.

colorful flowers

Table of Contents

Do deer eat zinnias?

The short answer is no. Zinnias are actually deer-resistant, so you can leave your worries about deer munching on them behind. In fact, deer don’t like the taste of zinnias and choose to stay away from them. What’s more, as zinnias are non-poisonous to children and other animals such as cats, dogs, and horses, they’re extremely safe to grow in your garden.

deer resistant plants zinnias image

What are zinnias?

Zinnias are popular plants that spruce up any backyard. They come in a range of shapes and colours. Zinnias are not only beautiful but are easy to grow as well. These plants can resist long periods of summer heat and drought without a lot of supplemental watering. In other words, they are low maintenance.

Many beginners choose to plant zinnias, as a seasoned green thumb is not essential to keep these plants green and healthy. Besides, they’re available in so many variations that it’s a breeze to create a fantastic look for growing zinnias in your backyard or garden.

With amazing floral fragrances and picturesque looks, zinnias can add to the aesthetic appeal of your home and living space. With the many benefits these pretty flowers have, it isn’t a surprise that homeowners are concerned about the possibility of a pest attack on them.

deer resistant garden

What is it about zinnias that deer dislike?

Deer dislike Zinnias for a few reasons. Most people think that it could be the level of toxicity or the harsh aroma from the flowers, but not really. The issue further boils down to the taste and smell of the zinnia flowers. However, deer tend to feed on the flower at some point, especially when they are hungry and left with no choice.

The good news for gardeners is that most deer will instantly spit out any zinnia they try to munch and quickly learn their lesson. And, after this first try, they generally take a sidestep. Also, remember that deer can actually eat any flower when they’re starving and are not able to find their preferred snacks, such desirable plants such as sunflowers and geraniums.

What is it about zinnias that deer dislike

More about deer and zinnias

While zinnias are popular for being deer resistant, they are not completely foolproof. To be honest, no plant is fully deer resistant. It is true that deer hate zinnias and avoids eating them, but there are exceptions and outliers.

As already mentioned, there is always a risk that deer might take a chance on eating the zinnias in your garden. It’s more likely for young fawns to experiment on zinnias. In most cases, the hatred for zinnia comes after the initial tasting. There are chances that you’ve watched young deer try to feed on these flowers before they understand that it’s something they don’t like.

There are cases in which deer may not have any problems with the taste of zinnias at all. That is probably because they would have nibbled on the young zinnia flower buds, which lack the intense flavour of the mature plants. Consequently, it’s a common sight to see deer munching on the buds. You can ignore the negligible damage or take some preventive steps to stop deer from nibbling on your zinnia flowers.

zinnia buds

What are the most common deer repellents?

If you are particular about saving your zinnia buds from deer attack, though it is not so common, you can use deer repellents. Consider both taste and odour repellents, but remember to use two different variants of whatever deer repellent that you choose to use. As deer easily adapt to anything, you should keep them guessing.

If there are other vulnerable flowers and plants in your garden, adding a fence around them is a great idea to keep deer out. When it comes to fencing, you have several options, including wire fencing, wooden fencing, and electric fencing. Make sure the fencing is 8 to 10 feet high. You can also create an invisible barrier by stringing a fishing line around the yard, at about five to ten inches above the ground.

deer fence

What kinds of plants do deer generally avoid?

Deer seem to avoid feeding on plants with specific textures, odours, and bright colours because, typically, these characteristics are indicators of poisonous plants. To be on the safe side, they tend to avoid them.

Plants with a strong odour are likely to prevent deer from coming near them, so these plants are a good bet for your garden. Likewise, these majestic animals tend to stay away from plants that have thick stems and leaves and fuzzy or grey textures.

garden flowers that are bright

What are the plants that deer feed on?

Deer generally feed on grasses, flowers, trees, shrubs, nuts, berries, legumes, and other vegetation. If you see a deer in your yard feeding on your plants, it’s probably because they don’t get adequate nutrition from their usual diet and they need more to survive.

Typically, deer love to eat corn, apples, blueberries, blackberries, pecans, persimmons, hickory nuts, acorns, and clover leaves.

deer eating apples

What other animals eat zinnia plants?

Now that we’ve seen that zinnias are not the favourite of deer, there are animals that can completely destroy these plants. Top on the list is rabbits. Rabbits can not only destroy zinnia plants but also damage your entire garden. Rabbits gnaw through the foliage and consume a good portion of it.

Leafrollers, with their tiny bodies and small, copper wings, are hard to identify. Sometimes, they can get out of control and eventually destroy the whole plant. Aphids like armyworms and cutworms are common pests that feed on the young buds of the zinnia plant. Caterpillars also feed on zinnias, especially the leaves. However, they don’t damage the entire plant or garden. Proper preventive measures should be taken to protect your zinnia and other plants, from these notorious pests.

rabbit in garden


Do deer eat zinnia? Well, the straight answer is no, but if deer are hungry, they will eat anything! However, note that zinnias are often on the list of plants that deer avoid. In rare cases, they may just nibble on the young flower buds, but that could probably be the first and last time they do it. So, you need not really worry about a deer nibbling and damaging your zinnia plants.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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