Are Dahlias Deer Resistant?

Dahlias are a spectacular summer flower that will attract many visitors to your garden. This may include some undesirable guests. While Dahlias are not a deer’s favorite food, they can and will make a meal out of your precious plants if they choose. There are measures you can take to prevent this catastrophe though! Deterrents and physical barriers can be used to prevent unwanted visitors in your garden. Another common garden pest you may encounter is rabbits. Rabbits may only be a threat to your Dahlias in their early growing stages, while deer may be a season-long problem.

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According to Rutgers University, this plant is Occasionally Severely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged. While deer may not be overly interested in Dahlias, they will make a snack of your plants if their usual food sources are limited. Take some time in the mornings or evenings to observe your garden. Do you see deer? How often are you seeing them? How close do they usually come to your garden? These factors can all impact the choices you make when planting and when preventing animal interference in your landscape design. 

Keeping Deer Away From Dahlias

Keeping deer away from your plants can be tricky! There are a variety of ways to keep deer out of your garden. Repellents range from sprays carried in the hardware store to homemade recipes. A common DIY deer repellent is human hair. Most hairdressers would be happy to supply you with clippings for free that you can spread around your garden. Another option is fencing. Something to consider is that deer can usually jump many feet into the air. A fence might deter them for a while, but it probably won’t be infallible. Fences are however a great option to deter rabbits! Planting close to your home may also deter foragers. Children and pets running around in your garden will spook most wildlife with their sounds and smells. Here are some deer-repellent plants you can include in your garden: sage, aster, rosemary, and sedum among others! 

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Will Dahlias Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

As long as the deer do not eat every flower bud, their grazing could be beneficial. Sometimes Dahlias need to have excess buds removed so the plants aren’t wasting resources. Since they are considered annuals in most climates, any damage incurred will not matter for next season. If rabbits or deer wreck total havoc on your plant, you can always dig up the tubers and save them for seasons to come. Simply cut off any excess plant matter and dig up the tubers. Clean them thoroughly and allow them to completely dry. Store them in a cool and dark place for planting again in the future!

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

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Author Chris Link - Published 01-24-2023