Are Dogwoods Deer Resistant?

While dogwoods are by no means deer proof, they are mildly deer resistant. There are many different types of dogwoods, and they all have a different level of deer resistance. The most deer resistant dogwoods are considered to be the Kousa dogwood, Red Osier dogwood, and Red Twigged dogwood. Dogwood fruit is more popular than the shrub or tree itself, and is enjoyed by birds and small wildlife.


According to Rutgers University, this plant is B on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged. This means they are seldom severely damaged. Some types of dogwood are considered a C, and those include Alternate Leaved dogwood, Bloodtwig dogwood, Panicled dogwood and Flowering dogwood. These trees are more susceptible to being occasionally severely damaged.

Rarely Damaged
Seldom Severely Damaged
Occasionally Severely Damaged
Frequently Severely Damaged

Keeping Deer Away from Dogwoods 

Dogwoods come in both shrub and tree forms. Shrubs will be the most susceptible to deer, unless the tree is juvenile. To keep a deer away from dogwoods, fencing can be used as well as tree collars and deer repellent. It should be kept in mind that deer are able to jump quite high when placing fencing. It may be prudent to use more than one method of protection if attempting to make the dogwood ‘deer proof’.


Will Dogwoods Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

Not much can be done to undo the damage of a deer interfering with a dogwood, as they like to eat the leaves and twigs. However, this often means that more leaves and twigs will grow, as if the plant had been pruned. It’s not necessary to prune additional twigs, unless the shrub is now unsightly. The shrub or tree will not likely flower in the area where the deer has interfered. If one wishes to promote the revitalization of the plant, a 12-4-8 fertilizer can be added. 

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

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Author Chris Link - Published 06-28-2022