Are Black Eyed Susans Deer Resistant?

Black-Eyed Susans are deer-resistant, native plants that have naturalized themselves throughout much of North America. One reason that Rudbeckia hirta was able to spread so far across the continent is that deer mostly leave it alone. The seedlings are most likely to be browsed as they put on the first sets of true, tender leaves. The texture of the more mature stems and leaves is not appealing to deer. All parts of Black-Eyed Susans also have a strong taste that deer do not like. 


According to Rutgers University, this plant is Seldom Rarely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged. This rating means that Black-Eyed Susan's may only be damaged or browsed when any other plant material is not available.

Rarely Damaged
Seldom Severely Damaged
Occasionally Severely Damaged
Frequently Severely Damaged

Keeping Deer Away From Black-Eyed Susans

No protection is needed for Black-Eyed Susans against deer. Deer generally walk right past all varieties and cultivars of Rudbeckia. Rabbits may be a threat when seedlings are sprouting in the spring. The tender leaves are irresistible to rabbits and may need to be protected. The best way to protect new Black-Eyed Susan plants is to start seeds in pots over the winter and transplant them when the plants are at least 6 inches tall and have maturing leaves. 

Will Black-Eyed Susans Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

Black-Eyed Susans are hardy perennial plants and can withstand a fair amount of damage by pests and diseases. Any damaged growth can be pruned away, spurring more growth and flowers if it is early enough in the summer. If the damage occurs later in the summer, the foliage can be cut back early for fall, and the plant will happily grow back vigorously the next spring.


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

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Author Robbin Small - Published 7-31-2022