Are Sunflowers Deer Resistant?

Sunflowers are a summertime staple that brightens an outdoor space with bold, sunny yellow flowers. Deer will sometimes eat sunflowers, so be aware if you live in an area with large deer populations. Sunflowers are available as annuals and herbaceous perennials and are only susceptible to hungry animals during the spring, summer, and early fall. During this time, abundant food sources are available, so deer and foraging animals may choose to eat something more desirable. However, if nothing better is available, deer will eat sunflowers. 

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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.

Keeping Deer Away From Sunflowers

Fences and scent-based deterrents effectively keep deer and other animals away from sunflowers. Plant sunflowers inside a fenced-in garden space or yard. Plant sunflowers near a porch or patio to discourage foraging animals. Sometimes, people and pets are enough to keep deer away, especially if other, easier-to-access food sources are available.

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Will Sunflowers Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

Sunflowers may come back if deer or other animals eat them; the extent of the damage and the timing of the damage impact whether a plant will recover. Annual and perennial sunflowers damaged early in the season may not grow as big, but they may still bounce back. Plants damaged late in the season may not have enough time to recover before the end of the growing season.

Help damaged sunflower plants recover from animal damage by trimming broken stems and leaves. Apply fertilizer to encourage more growth and relocate potted plants so they are not as easy to access. 

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

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 05-02-2023