Bold, colorful blooms make Pansies a gardener favorite, and unfortunately, foraging animals also enjoy this fast-growing perennial. Deer and rabbits will eat Pansies and can do some harm, depending on the extent of the damage. Pansies are most likely to be eaten during the spring and summer. Fortunately, hungry animals have many options during the growing season, and the availability of more flavorful or accessible plants may save Pansies.
Pansies grow quickly, so if they are damaged by foraging animals, there is a good chance they will recover. Proper care and attention will help the plants bounce back. According to Rutgers University, this plant is Occasionally Severely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged.
Keeping Deer Away From Pansies
The best way to protect Pansies from deer, rabbits, and other animals is to make it inconvenient or not worth the effort to eat the plants. Plant Pansies in borders near heavily used doors, or add them to containers on patios or in hanging baskets that are not reachable. Animals will leave Pansies alone if they cannot get to the plants. Scent-based deterrents are also effective at keeping animals away. Fencing can provide some protection, but small rabbits may be able to get through, and deer are skilled at jumping, so physical barriers may not always work.
Will Pansies Come Back After Deer Eat Them?
Pansies are vigorous growers and respond well to fertilization, so they may recover after being grazed by animals. As long as some leaves remain, there is a good chance the plant will grow back. Plants that have sustained a lot of damage may need more time, and plants that have been nibbled to the ground may not return. If deer eat your Pansies, it is best to remove all of the damage, water and fertilize the plant, and give it time to recover.
Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018
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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 08-01-2022