Is Blue Holly Deer Resistant?

If you live in an area with high populations of deer, finding the right landscape plants can be a concern. Some hollies do better than others at repelling deer. In general, deer dislike the spiky foliage on holly plants and the milky sap inside. Deer are also susceptible to the poisonous berries that will cause them internal pain and discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea. Still, you may have concerns about deer who are notorious for eating almost anything when necessary. During the winter when food is scarce will be the time to check your shrubs for deer grazing.


There are types of holly you can pick that are rarely damaged by deer including the American Holly (Ilex opaca) and Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquifolium). You might also consider one of the highly recommended “Morris” hollies, Ilex x ‘Lydia Morris’ or Ilex x ‘John T. Morris’. According to Rutgers University Blue Holly (Ilex x meserveae) is “Occasionally Severely Damaged” by deer grazing 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 Blue Holly

In order to keep deer away from your Blue Holly, you can plant pungently fragrant plants that may repel them. Many shrubs and perennial flowers have high deer-resistance ratings and can be planted in the margins of your landscape. You can also purchase deer repellent products from a garden center. Blue Holly can also be protected from deer by using deer fencing or planting in different areas that are less likely to be eaten. For example, plant your Blue Holly towards the center of the garden instead of the outer edges. 

Will Blue Holly Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

Blue Holly may take slightly longer than other varieties of holly to recover after deer damage. Usually if Blue Holly is eaten, the shrub will recover by the next growing season. Therefore, no need for major pruning or panicking after deer chow down on your holly! 


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


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Author Chris Link - Published 2-06-2023