Plants That Attract Deer To Your Yard

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Deer are complex, curious creatures that will likely flock to your yard if you have a fantastic selection of plants, trees, and shrubs they can snack on. But what are plants that attract deer without much effort?

Deer love big, bright flowers such as sunflowers and hydrangeas, as well as clematis vines and perennial plants. It’s likely tricky to find plants that deer dislike! However, it really does pay to choose shrubs and vegetation they prefer above all others.

Attracting deer without bait is easy enough with the right flowers, providing you are willing to put time and effort into cultivation. In this guide, keep reading to find out more about plants deer love – to smell and eat – across the year.

Preparing your lawn and garden for deer

Before you start planting flowers, shrubs, and trees that are likely to attract deer to your yard, it’s important to make sure your garden is already welcoming to them. To start, you should make sure that your greenery, including any grass you may have on your lawn, is left to grow. This is known in some cases as rewilding your lawn.

Rewilding doesn’t have to mean letting your yard grow completely out of control. It may simply mean leaving your grass to grow a little longer by cutting back on mowing, for example. However, it’s worth noting that deer love an abundance of wild plants and grass as it’s what they are predominantly used to in the wild. 

Which plants attract the most deer?

As well as letting your garden grow a little wilder than usual, it’s important to make sure you have blooms and shrubs that deer will find more interesting than most. Here are some of the most popular plants deer love to munch on.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are fantastic if you want to attract all kinds of creatures to your yard, and believe it or not, deer are among them. They will normally take their time to chew through these blooms as they can grow to some incredible sizes – however, you need to be sure you want to say goodbye to them! It might be a good idea, therefore, to plant more than a few – generally closer to trees and away from fences.

Petunias

Petunias are perennial plants that are not only firm favorites with gardeners, but also with deer! Many people with wild yards across the states may actually find they attract deer even if they don’t intend to with a colorful crop. These plants normally fare best through zones 10 and 11 on the hardiness scale.

Perennials such as petunias are great for inviting deer from the start of spring onwards, making them a great treat to plant and grow throughout the year.

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are curious plants when it comes to welcoming creatures into yards and gardens. Butterflies love hydrangea for their colors and scents, for example. However, bees tend to avoid hydrangeas as they are not always great sources of pollen. When it comes to deer, however, these plants always prove to be highly tasty.

These plants tend to grow fairly large and are gently nibbled away by deer. They are strong attractants, so make sure you plant them towards the edges of your garden in case animals wish to make a beeline for them.

Daylilies

Daylilies are lovely, colorful bulbs that will look great in any wild yard border. However, be prepared to say goodbye to them en masse if you want to attract deer. These plants tend to flower for a very brief time – often up to a day, in some cases – but the plants continue to weather, with hundreds of blooms popping up over the course of a month.

This means that deer will have to act quick – they will know where to come to snack on colorful daylily flowers but will learn that they are in short supply. The best part for gardeners is, of course, that they really don’t need much looking after.

Clover

Specifically, deer love eating red and white clover, which are generally regarded as weeds on the whole. Therefore, you likely won’t have to do much to propagate these plants. It’s not only deer that enjoy clover plants, however, as they are great for attracting bees to your garden, too.

Clematis

Yes, as well as growing plants and shrubs to attract deer, you can also encourage visitations from these animals with the odd vine or two. Clematis vines are rewarding growths that need some support to reach their full potential. However, when they do, you’re sure to catch the eye of a deer or two.

What’s interesting about clematis is the fact that the higher they grow, the higher deer may attempt to get at these delicious plants! Therefore, these vines may not always be able to support them – so plan ahead. If you’re setting up a wild yard for other types of creatures to visit, clematis attracts bees, too.

Can I attract deer to my yard with plants and flowers alone?

It’s easy to think that deer will simply want to visit your garden if you have a vibrant array of blooms and natural snacks for them to eat. However, attracting deer to a yard actually goes a little deeper than that. 

Deer look for reassurance that their feeding zones are safe and secure. That means ensuring to set up a yard space that’s away from loud noises, with clear entry and exit points, and with lots of shade. Planting trees for deers is also a great idea – as these not only produce fruit and nuts that they will enjoy eating but will also provide them with coverage.

Deer also love to smell and eat more than just flowers and plants alone. For example, did you know that you can attract deer using molasses? Salt licks, too, are great options if you’d like these animals to keep coming back to your yard.

About author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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