Are Azaleas Deer Resistant?

Azaleas are great flowering shrubs to add to your garden. They’re very popular with people and deer too.  Deer will eat both the leaves and the stems.

According to Rutgers University this plant is Frequently Severely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged. Meaning azaleas are often a favorite for deer to eat.

Rarely Damaged
Seldom Severely Damaged
Occasionally Severely Damaged
Frequently Severely Damaged


Keeping Deer Away From Azaleas

Protect your azalea from deer damage by using motion-activated lights or a sprinkler system during the warmer months of the year. Strong odors also keep them away, but you must occasionally change the scent because they become accustomed to it. Plant azaleas inside fenced-in areas. Deer are less likely to jump high or double fences.


Protecting Azaleas From Deer

Use chicken wire or other means to surround them during the winter months when deer damage is more likely to occur since food is scarce. You can also try draping deer netting over smaller varieties to prevent deer from eating them.

Will Azalea Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

Azalea can survive damage from deer browsing. Prune away broken and damaged branches. Water well and add mulch for weed control. Weeds may deplete soil nutrients that could be used by your azaleas instead. In the spring, fertilize with a 6-10-4 slow-release fertilizer blend or one designed for flowering shrubs.


Flower buds form on old wood soon after the plant is done flowering in the spring. If deer eat all the buds, your azalea will not flower in the spring.

Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018

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 Author Maureen Farmer - Published 10-11-2021