Deer and hydrangeas

Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas? How to Keep Deer Away

Do you get deer in your garden? Are you worried about deer eating your hydrangeas? Well, it’s time to debunk the popular belief that deer eat hydrangeas. 

Although many gardening blogs claim that deer eat hydrangeas, based on my personal experience growing hydrangeas for nearly two decades, I can confidently say that deer have never shown any interest in my hydrangeas.

Living in coastal Connecticut, where deer are a common sight, I often spot them roaming my backyard and munching on various shrubs. 

However, to my surprise, they completely ignore my hydrangea shrubs as if they were invisible. 

It makes me wonder why so many experts suggest that deer eat hydrangeas when they don’t even bother with the hydrangeas in my garden. 

deer with hydrangeas

Well, I have a theory. It seems that there is something else in my garden that the deer find more appealing that’s why they are ignoring my hydrangeas. 

Whenever I see deer visit my garden, they usually go around munching on my hostas. The deer also love my yew shrub, which I think they prefer over the hostas.

Check out: What to Plant with Hydrangeas? Best Companion Plants

So, here’s my hypothesis: my hydrangeas may simply luck out because I have other plants that steal the show. The deer’s attention is diverted to the enticing hostas and the irresistible yew shrub, leaving my hydrangeas untouched. 

Deer and hydrangeas

While this is just a hunch, it seems to make sense. Deer have their food preferences, and my garden offers alternative plants that keep them satisfied.

If you’re concerned about deer damaging your hydrangeas, I suggest planting yew shrubs and hostas in your garden. These plants will divert the deer’s attention and protect your hydrangeas.

Check out my Lazy Gardener’s Guide to Growing Hydrangeas

Deer and Hydrangeas: What to Plant to Keep Deer Away

Yew Shrubs

If you want to keep deer away from your hydrangeas, plant yew shrubs in your garden.

yew with deer in the background

Yew shrubs (Taxus) are low maintenance evergreen shrubs with dense foliage. They thrive in both sun and shade and can tolerate various soil types. 

Do know that yew shrubs are toxic to humans and pets. If you have kids and pets,  be careful when you plant yew in your backyard. Yew are toxic when ingested.

Surprisingly, Yew shrubs are not toxic to deer. The deer find them quite appetizing.

Yew Shrubs
Sun/ShadeFull sun to full shade
ZoneUSDA Hardiness Zones 4-7
WateringModerate watering, well-drained soil
SoilWell-drained soil, adaptable
BotanicalTaxus spp.
Yew Plant Profile


Hostas is another plant that deer prefer over hydrangeas. Hostas are perennial favorites known for their lush foliage and adaptability to shady locations. They require well-drained soil and can thrive in shade or partial sun. 

deer eating hostas

Do keep in mind that deer consider hostas a delectable treat. So if you don’t have a deer problem, I don’t recommend planting a lot of hostas because you are essentially inviting deer into your garden! 

Sun/ShadePartial shade to full shade
ZoneUSDA Hardiness Zones 3-9
WateringRegular watering, moist but well-drained
SoilRich, fertile soil with good drainage
BotanicalHosta spp.
Hosta Plant Profile

By incorporating yew shrubs and hostas into your garden, you can safeguard your hydrangeas from deer damage. Remember, deer have their plant preferences, and by offering alternative plants they love, you can maintain the beauty of your hydrangeas without the need for costly fencing or sprays.

Check out: Hydrangeas Watering Requirements

Based on my firsthand experience, I have discovered that deer show no interest in hydrangeas when other tastier options are available. 

By understanding their preferences and strategically planting yew shrubs and hostas, you can enjoy a deer-resistant garden and preserve your beloved hydrangeas.

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