Camellias are beautiful evergreen shrubs with large, exquisite flowers and rich meaning and symbolism. However, although gardeners worldwide enjoy these plants, other creatures do as well. In this article, we’ll find out if camellia plants are deer-resistant.
Are Camellia Plants Deer-Resistant?
Although some sources list camellias as deer-resistant plants, this isn’t always the case. Grazing deer usually prefer not to eat camellias. However, deer may munch on camellia leaves if their usual food sources are scarce.
Camellia leaves are famously used to make tea, especially those from Camellia sinensis. The leaves contain caffeine, which puts deer off most of the time. If a deer nibbles on your camellia, it’ll likely target younger leaves and buds.
Established camellia shrubs should stand up well to deer. However, younger plants that have been recently planted are an easy target for grazing deer.
What Other Animals Can Eat Camellia Plants?
Deer aren’t the only animals that might take a bite out of your camellias. Small mammals like squirrels and voles may also eat camellia buds, leaves, or flowers. Ground mammals like voles tend to eat camellia roots. Squirrels prefer leaf buds or flowers if other food sources aren’t available.
How to Protect Your Camellia Plants From Animals
If grazing deer are targeting your camellia, you can take steps to protect your plants. The easiest way to deter deer is by erecting a fence or other barrier around your garden. Keep your camellia plants away from any low fences that deer could lean over.
An 8-foot tall fence should keep out most deer. Make sure that whatever barrier you use doesn’t have any gaps or holes in it. Construct the enclosure so that it forms a barrier underground as well. This deters burrowing rodents that could snack on your camellia’s roots.
You can also use chicken wire enclosures to protect your camellia from deer or squirrels. This works best for young camellia plants that haven’t yet reached full size. This protects the young plant from animals, giving it time to establish.
Plant a chicken wire collar around the trunk if voles and other ground mammals are chewing on your camellia roots. You can also spread some gravel around the base of your camellia to deter these mammals.
You can also use companion plants to protect your camellias from animals. Companion plants work either by producing spiky foliage or a strong scent to repel grazing animals. Spiky plants like mahonias can work like a fence around your camellia.
Strongly-scented companion plants that can deter rodents like squirrels and voles include catmint, lavender, lemon balm, and roses. Herbs such as chives, oregano, sage, and thyme also work well.
Several animal-repellent products are also available on the market. These sprays are designed to deter deer and other animals without harming your camellia plant. Simply apply the spray directly to the leaves. However, many of these sprays must be reapplied after rainfall.
How to Help Camellia Plants Recover from Being Eaten
If deer or other animals consume some of your camellia’s leaves, pruning correctly can help the plant recover. Cut back the damaged stems to the closest healthy buds using clean, sharp tools. If there’s too much damage, cut the stem right back to the next healthy branch.
Deer tend to target well-fertilized plants because they have more nutrients. Camellia shrubs don’t need much fertilizer, so avoid applying too much. Fertilize camellias once in early spring once the flowers start to fade.
Camellia Deer-Resistance FAQs:
What Eats Camellia Leaves?
Grazing deer will sometimes eat camellia leaves if there’s no other food available. Insects such as beetles and caterpillars also consume camellia leaves.
How Do I Keep Deer From Eating My Camellias?
Tall fences or chicken wire cages are the best way to keep deer away from your camellias. Alternatively, use spiky or scented companion plants such as catmint, lavender, and mahonias.
What Smell Keeps Deer Away From Plants?
Strong smells from herbs like chives, oregano, sage, and thyme can keep deer away from your plants.
Are Camillia Plants Deer Resistant: Wrapping Up
Camellia plants may be eaten by deer if there isn’t much other food available. Squirrels and voles may also target camellia plants. Deter deer and other animals using fences or companion plants like herbs or mahonias.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.