If you live in an area with deer, you may wonder if these animals will eat your hibiscus plants. Join us as we cover whether or not hibiscus are deer resistant.
About Hibiscus Plants
Hibiscus plants are a group of plants in the mallow family. Members of the Hibiscus genus are known for their large, round flowers.
There are hundreds of different hibiscus species. Cold-tolerant species are considered hardy hibiscus, while warm-weather plants are known as tropical hibiscus. What’s more, they are available in various colors, including beautiful yellow, red, and purple hibiscus flowers.
Are Hibiscus Plants Resistant to Deer?
Unfortunately, hibiscus plants are not considered resistant to deer. Although the plants are not deer magnets, they are not immune to deer damage.
In general, deer will not seek out hibiscus plants. However, if other plants are sparse, they may feed on hibiscus leaves and shoots.
Hibiscus plants may be especially susceptible to deer during the early spring. During this time, vegetation can be hard to find, so deer may munch on whatever they can find.
Are All Types of Hibiscus Equally Susceptible to Deer?
While all types of hibiscus are members of the same genus, it’s important to remember that each plant is a unique species. That means some kinds of hibiscus may appeal more to deer than others.
According to Rutgers University, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is seldom severely damaged by deer. However, the native rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) is occasionally severely damaged by deer.
These varying ratings underscore how not all hibiscus are equally susceptible to deer. In general, hardy hibiscus plants are often more attractive to deer than tropical hibiscus plants.
How Can I Protect My Hibiscus Plants from Deer?
If you see deer eating your hibiscus plants, it’s best to take action ASAP. If you continue to allow the deer to eat the plants, they can become demolished.
And if you live in an area with a large deer population, you may want to take preventative measures to keep deer away from your hibiscus.
When it comes time to protect your plants, you can choose from the following options.
The best way to keep deer away from your hibiscus plants is to physically prevent them from reaching the plants. If the deer can’t access your hibiscus, they can’t eat them!
A fence is one way to keep deer away from your hibiscus plants. However, before you build a fence, remember that deer can jump quite high!
You’ll need an eight-foot-tall fence to keep deer away from your plants.
Since fences can be difficult and expensive to build, you may want to consider other options.
Oftentimes, you may only be worried about deer damage in the early spring when plants are small. If true, you can protect your plants using a chicken wire or wire mesh cage.
You can create your own cages or purchase a pre-assembled option.
Another way to keep deer away from your hibiscus is to use products designed to repel deer. If you’ve ever been part of gardening conversations, you may have heard people swear by deer repellents such as dog hair, hot sauce, and marigolds.
But what are the best deer repellents?
Deer Out is one product that thousands of people report works at keeping these pesky critters away from the garden. However, you will likely need to reapply the product every few days in order for it to remain effective.
Deer Resistant Alternatives to Hibiscus
While hibiscus isn’t necessarily one of the deer’s favorite plants, it is susceptible to deer damage. So if you live in an area with a large deer population, you may want to consider deer-resistant plants.
If you’re looking for deer-resistant shrubs, you can consider the following options.
- Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
- Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica)
- Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)
- Devil’s Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa)
Frequently Asked Questions:
Will Deer Eat My Hibiscus Plant?
Hibiscus plants are considered moderately susceptible to deer damage. That means they’re not a deer’s first food choice, but deer will eat them if other food is scarce.
How Do I Keep Deer From Eating My Hibiscus?
You can cover your hibiscus plants with chicken wire to exclude deer or spray deer repellent on and around your plants. You can also provide deer with other food sources to persuade them to leave your hibiscus alone.
What does it mean when a plant is considered deer-resistant?
When a plant is considered deer-resistant, it means that it has qualities that make it unappealing to deer, and they are less likely to consume it.
Do all varieties of hibiscus have the same level of deer-resistance?
No, some varieties of hibiscus may be more deer-resistant than others. For example, the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is considered more deer-resistant than tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).
Are there any other animals that may damage hibiscus plants?
Yes, other animals that may damage hibiscus plants include rabbits, squirrels, and groundhogs.
Can hibiscus plants attract deer if there are no other food sources available?
Yes, if there are no other food sources available, deer may still nibble on hibiscus plants even if they are considered deer-resistant.
How can I further protect my hibiscus plants from deer damage?
You can protect your hibiscus plants from deer damage by using deer repellents, fencing your garden, planting deer-resistant plants, or using motion-activated sprinklers.
Are Hibiscus Deer Resistant: Wrapping Up
While hibiscus plants are not considered deer resistant, they are not one of these animals’ favorite food sources. If you find deer eating your hibiscus, you can protect the plants with a wire cage or deer repellent.
For more, see our in-depth guide to hibiscus flower meaning and symbolism.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.
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