Do Deer Eat Roses

Do Deer Eat Roses?

Written By: Ian @ World Deer

Has something been munching at your roses? If so, maybe you are at a bit of a loss figuring out the culprit. If you live in a suburban or rural area where there are deer, it just might be that a whitetail is raiding your garden. Do deer eat roses? In short, the answer is yes, deer do eat roses. Not only do they eat them, they think they’re delectable. Deer usually start lurking around your rose bushes at night. There are occasions, however, when you might notice them eating roses during the day.

In today’s article we’ll explore why deer love to eat roses, share which parts of the plant are most at risk, and provide some tips to keep deer from eating your roses.

Let’s dive right in!

Do Deer Prefer Any Particular Parts of the Rose Plant?

A deer will eat pretty much every part of the rose plant, including the foliage, blooms, and buds. They will sometimes even eat thorny canes on your rose bushes.

That said, a deer’s favorite part of the rose plant is new growth. This is where things are tender, even the thorns to an extent.

Will Deer Eat Roses

The average amount of plant material a deer will take from trees and shrubs is between five and 15 pounds a day. This means that even one deer can do significant damage to your rose garden in a short period of time.

How Do I Keep Deer Away from My Roses?

There are deer repellants that you can try. Be aware, though, that you will have to reapply this periodically. You will always have to reapply it after heavy rain. There are some natural and home remedies you can use, too.

You will have to do trial and error to see which ones work for you. The problem is that sometimes the deer will get used to whatever you use and ignore it, still attacking your rose plants.

Yellow Roses

This is why you will probably get better results if you change your method once in a while.

Go High Tech

If you still have problems, you can look into special mechanical gadgets that are available. These are protective deterrents.

An example is a device that will detect the deer being nearby and put on a sprinkler or make a loud noise to scare the animal away.

Like the other tactics, however, you will need to change the positioning and device once in a while. The deer will become acclimated and will eventually give into the temptation of your roses once again.

Create a Buffer with Perennials Deer Hate

Another tactic is to surround your roses with plants deer don’t like. There are certain plants that are recognized as deer-deterrents or as plants that resistant to deer. These include:

  • Columbine
  • Coreopsis
  • Ageratum
  • Astilbe
  • Dusty Miller
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Marigolds
  • Bleeding Heart


If nothing else works for you, an electric fence could be an option. Of course, this is quite expensive and an investment. Be aware, though, that it will have to be quite tall. If it’s too short, deer will simply leap over it into your garden.

Deer Jumping Fence

You could also simply fence your property in the more traditional way. But again, make sure the fencing is high enough. Deer are incredible jumpers.

Homemade Deer Repellent

There are homemade deer repellent recipes that you can try. One calls for the following ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of liquid dishwashing soap
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce (Tabasco is a popular choice)
Deer Eating Roses

Once you have made this mixture, put it into a sprayer (such as a gallon tank sprayer). Fill the remainder of the sprayer with water. Spray this onto and around your roses weekly.

Make sure you do this thoroughly, so that the deer can definitely smell it. Gardeners who have used this technique say that it will not hurt your plants.

Are There Deer-Resistant Rose Varieties?

If you haven’t yet planted your roses or you plan on planting new ones, think about getting varieties that deer don’t like as much.

Deer Eating Roses in Garden

Yes, they will eat every kind of rose, but they prefer ones such as Hybrid Tea roses, Drift roses, Knockout roses, David Austin shrub roses, and Miniature roses. Examples of deer-resistant rose varieties include:

Harison’s Yellow Rose

Harison’s Yellow Rose is one deer-resistant rose you can grow. It is a hybrid that originated in the 19th century. In partial or full sun, it will grow to around 6 feet in height.

Harison's Yellow Rose - A Deer Resistant Rose Variety

Harison’s Yellow Rose generally has semi-double flowers. This rose is quite resistant to disease. You can grow Harison’s Yellow Rose in many different regions of the country.


Rugosa roses are another kind of rose that deer don’t usually like. This is a hybrid rose and you can grow it in many different areas of the United States.

Rosa Rugosa - a Hybrid Rose that is Deer Resistant

You will usually need to grow these in locations that have full or at least partial sun. One type of Rugosa is the Sir Thomas Lipton.

This is a rounded and medium-sized bush and it grows to between five and eight feet tall. The flowers are white and the blooms are double and semidouble.

Father Hugo

The Father Hugo rose is yellow in color and is deer-resistant. It has short stems and the flowers change color in the autumn, becoming a dark red.

Father Hugo Rose - a Deer Resistant Shrub Rose Bush

This rose plant is a medium-sized shrub that will reach between six and eight feet in height. This is a hardy plant that can deal with very dry conditions. Father Hugo roses often bloom earlier in the spring than other rose varieties.


This attractive hybrid rose is often referred to as “Baby Mermaid.” This plant was first created in the 1950s. Happenstance has bright yellow blooms and small leaves.

The shrub is on the smaller side, reaching between three and five feet in height. Besides being deer-resistant, Happenstance is low-maintenance and doesn’t need as much water as other varieties. It resists disease and you won’t have to prune it very often.

Keep Your Roses Safe and Beautifully Blooming

If you live in an area where there are heavy deer populations, your roses are at risk. Do deer eat roses? Yes. In just one night, a deer or a group of deer might demolish your rose plants.

How to Keep Deer from Eating Roses

Use some of the tips we have set out above to keep your roses safe and growing as they should. If you’d like, you can consider planting one of the deer-resistant rose varieties we listed.

Picture of By: Ian from World Deer

By: Ian from World Deer

A passionate writer for WorldDeer using the most recent data on all animals with a keen focus on deer species.

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