Are Roses Deer Resistant?

The rose is a perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa. With over three hundred species of roses, varieties range from miniature shrubs to sprawling climbers. Its  non-stop blooms and lush foliage are a favorite for gardeners and deer as well. Deer are attracted to well watered, well fertilized plants with a lot of tender growth. Roses fit that bill. Deer will eat the foliage, buds, blooms, and the thorny canes of rose bushes. 

According to Rutgers University the rose is rated “occasionally severely damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged.


On average a single hungry deer will eat 5 to 15 pounds of plant material each day. Some other plants deer enjoy snacking on are daylilies, hostas, and English ivy. Considering deer live and feed in herds, that could do a great amount of damage to a garden in one visit. Other furry friends that love to snack on rose shrubs are rabbits, squirrels, and gophers.


How To Keep Deer Away From Roses

If you live in an area that deer often visit, you will want to think about deer-proofing your rose area early on. Commercial deer deterrents sprayed on or around the garden area help. These sprays emit a foul taste and odor that deter deer. You will want to begin spraying in the spring and continue weekly through September. Mechanical deer proof methods such as motion detection sprinklers or noise makers hanging in trees can help. An electric fence would be an effective option. DIY tricks such as using dog/human hair, dryer sheets, soap, or homemade sprays might work. Deer can easily get used to one method of deer proofing, so it is best to rotate tricks for ongoing protection. 

A more permanent form of deer proofing is planting deer resistant perennial plants or an herb garden as a border around rose shrubs. Deer are very sensitive to smell, taste and textures, and herbs have all of those. Some deer resistant herbs are Rosemary, Sage, Bee Balm, Lavender, Basil, Oregano, and Chives. Other deer proof plants are Bleeding Hearts, Astilbe, Marigolds, Butterfly Bush, or Coreopsis.

Will Roses Come Back After Deer Eat Them

Even though deer prefer to eat the buds, new leaves, stems and flowers, they will eat every part of your rose shrub. There is very little you can do to help the shrub besides pruning the canes. It is best to prune the damaged canes just below the munched off part. As the rose recovers, refrain from applying large amounts of fertilizer as the shrub is in stress. Don’t worry, in most cases your rose will begin to flourish again in no time. 

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

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Author Chris Link - Published 05-28-2021