Is Barberry Deer Resistant?

Barberry is deer resistant, and most animals leave these shrubs alone. This bush pushes out new foliage and yellow flowers in the spring. Barberry is usually deciduous, and the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange before dropping in the fall. Red berries hang from the branches during the fall and winter. Deciduous Barberry only has foliage during the spring, summer, and fall, so damage is not likely during the winter when the branches are mostly bare. Evergreen and semi-evergreen varieties retain their foliage longer and may be at higher risk of damage from deer browsing. Luckily the thorns and bitter taste of these shrubs make them less appealing to grazing animals.


Foraging animals prefer most other plants to Barberry, making this shrub a good choice in areas that typically experience a lot of animal damage. According to Rutgers University this plant is Rarely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged.

Rarely Damaged
Seldom Severely Damaged
Occasionally Severely Damaged
Frequently Severely Damaged

Keeping Deer Away From Barberry

Deer are likely to stay away from Barberry plants on their own, so protective measures are unnecessary. If you need to protect plants, consider using a repellent or fencing to keep hungry animals away. Plant Barberry near a busy area, like a door or walkway, to deter animals from getting close enough to nibble.


Will Barberry Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

Barberry plants that sustain damage from deer will likely bounce back with little intervention. This bush will not likely receive significant damage since most animals do not prefer it. You can help a damaged Barberry grow back by following some easy tips. Use clean, sharp shears to remove dead or damaged growth. Apply a slow-release balanced fertilizer in the spring to encourage new growth. Even severely damaged plants will likely recover the next growing season, as these plants tolerate heavy pruning. 


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

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 02-11-2023