Despite their peaceful and gentle appearance, deer can be surprisingly destructive creatures. They have huge appetites and they will eat almost any plant they encounter.
This presents a particular problem for gardeners, who may find that their prized hostas are being eaten by hungry deer.
Do Deer Eat Hostas?
Deer are grazers and will eat lots of varieties of food. And unfortunately, deer do like to eat hostas, occasionally severely damaging the plants.
Hostas are one of a deer’s favorite plants, so they will absolutely take a bite if they are hungry enough and nearby. Unfortunately, deer-resistant hostas don’t exist.
Will Deer Eat the Whole Hosta Plant?
Hungry deer will eat a large portion of the plant. Since hostas only get to be around 36 inches at their widest, it’s not uncommon for a deer eating them to consume almost the entire plant.
The leaves (and even the flowers) of these garden plants are no match for a white-tailed deer.
What Do Deer Generally Eat?
Deer love to eat leafy foliage and since hostas are essentially big beautiful leafy plants, they are often a good target for deer.
Hostas are one type of plant that deer enjoy eating, but they eat many others including pansies, roses, petunias, marigolds, geraniums, and more.
How to Keep Deer From Eating Your Hostas
If you come out to find deer prints and deer damage in your hosta bed, it’s time to take action. Once they’ve found the prized bed, they’re unlikely to stay away for long.
While it can be difficult to keep deer away, there are several ways to protect your hostas from being eaten by deer.
1. Motion-Activated Sprinkler
Deer can be skittish, so hearing loud noises and seeing a lot of movement can scare them away. A motion-activated sprinkler can absolutely do the trick.
I set one of these up this year and it’s worked wonders for keeping animals out of my garden. Here is a video of it in action:
A motion activated sprinkler works wonders for keeping animals (and people!) out of your yard. It sprays intermittently as it detects continuous motion so animals won't get used to the timing of it.
2. Garden or Deer Netting
It’s not called deer netting to keep out rabbits. 🙂
If the netting is setup the right way, it can keep deer out. Unfortunately, this isn’t a solution you’ll likely want to use because it will cover up the beautiful greens.
3. Deer Repellent Sprays
This stuff is pretty gross, and no wonder rotten eggs work to repel deer. The main ingredient in this popular spray is whole egg, followed by garlic powder and cloves which are fragrant plants, which can be added to any homemade deer repellent. Those pungent smells are ones that deer tend to stay away from.
4. Companion Planting
You can also use the age-old method of companion planting, which is essentially planting deer resistant hosta alternatives that act as deer deterrents.
Some deer resistant plants include:
- Herbs like sage, rosemary, and dill
Deer avoid strong smells, and that’s exactly what garlic offers.
Fend Off Sticks have a strong garlic odor which is great as deer repellents
Here are some other deer resistant plants to try out including flowers, vegetables, and perennials.
5. Nylon Stockings with Soap
Got some extra Irish Spring soap laying around? Add it inside of a nylon stocking and hang it from a nearby tree branch. This scent is quite good at keeping deer out of the area.
One of the best ways to protect your plants is to put up a fence around them, and it’s the only true “deer proof” method. This will keep the deer out and allow the plants to grow without being eaten.
Deer can easily jump short fences, so if you’re going to go this route, you’ll want to put up a wire fence that is at least 7-8 feet tall.
You can also invest in an electric fence to help keep your vegetable garden and precious hosta plants safe.
Fences also help keep out animals like rabbits, raccoons, and other animals and pests.
7. Human Hair or Animal Hair
If a deer comes across your garden or backyard and smells a predator or human scent, this can help deter deer away from your plants. Although, some people have limited success with this, you can try animal urine as well.
8. Hot Pepper Spray
Similar to the deer repellent above, cayenne pepper sprays are great options for home remedies to keep deer out of the hosta patch.
9. Get Rid of the Bird Bath
If you have a birdbath in your backyard or garden, deer can use it as a water source. Once they’re nearby, they’ll realize there is some free food nearby. Take away the water, and you can help ease some of the destruction.
Will Hostas Grow Back if Eaten by Deer?
If a deer has gotten ahold of your hosta plant, there probably isn’t much left. However, if a good portion of the plant remains, the leaves can be quick to regrow, so don’t worry about it too much.
Are Hostas Deer Resistant?
Most hostas species are one of a deer’s favorite snacks and the plant itself doesn’t offer much in terms of deer resistance.
A hungry group of deer can easily decimate an entire bed of hostas in just a matter of hours. So if you live in an area with lots of local deer, you might want to take action before they find your patch.
You can protect plants with strong scents, a tall fence, and even some deer netting.