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If you’re planning a deer-friendly flower garden, finding plants that deer don’t enjoy snacking on can be a troublesome task. But are anemones the answer to your problems? Are anemone deer resistant? Let’s find out!

What Are Anemones?

A large display of flowering Japanese Anemone x hybrida 'Serenade' in a corner of a walled garden
Anemone x hybrida ‘Serenade’

Anemones, also known as windflower or pasqueflower, are perennial plants and are part of the buttercup family. There are many different types of anemones cultivated for the garden, including spring-flowering rue anemones and autumn-flowering Japanese anemones.

The joy of growing anemones is they are relatively hardy and will thrive with minimal care and attention. And because they are perennial plants, they will give you a beautiful floral display, year after year.

Anemones have rhizomes that spread underground, and they form a dense mound of foliage that can be evergreen in milder climates. The flowers form on wiry stems above the leaves, and they come in a spectacular range of colors.

Are Anemone Deer Resistant?

Anemonella thalictroides 'Pink Single' is a Rue Anemone with pink flowers
Anemonella thalictroides ‘Pink Single’ (Rue Anemone)

In general, deer do not tend to eat anemones, as they dislike the slightly bitter taste of the stems and leaves. Anemones also have a pungent aroma which acts as a deer repellent. This makes anemones a great choice of flowering plant for a deer-friendly garden.

Anemones were rated as “seldom severely damaged” in a study on deer resistant plants by Rutgers University.

Bear in mind that hungry deer will eat most things, even if they do not taste good! So your visiting deer may be tempted to eat the leaves and tender stems of anemone plants, particularly when food is scarce in the winter

Deer may also trample anemone plants as they pass by in search of tastier snacks, damaging the stems and leaves.

The good news is that anemones are fairly hardy, and the rhizome root system will remain undamaged by marauding deer. So, when the warmer spring weather arrives, your anemones will burst into life and provide you with a beautiful floral display.

Do Deer Eat Anemone Flowers?

Deer will not normally eat anemone flowers once they are in bloom, as the pungent fragrance is unappealing to deer.

However, deer are quite partial to eating the unopened buds of anemone flowers and may spend a considerable amount of time carefully picking them off the plant.

This can be very frustrating, especially when you’ve tended to your anemone plants all year round waiting for them to flower! 

Do Deer Eat Japanese Anemones?

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ (Japanese anemone)

Japanese anemones are a popular perennial plant that will put on a floral display year after year. They form mounds of leafy greenery above which the flowers float on long, springy stems.

Japanese anemones are listed as deer resistant, but many gardeners report that deer are partial to eating the unopened flower buds. Luckily, as Japanese anemones flower in the fall, there is normally plenty of other food sources for deer available. They do not tend to eat the leaves and flowers, as the pungent scent and bitter taste act as a repellent.

How to Protect Your Anemones From Deer

Deer netting to protect plants

As deer are not particularly partial to eating anemones, they can be protected with some minor deterrents.

The main problem lies with deer eating the delicate flower buds of anemones before they get a chance to bloom. Laying some netting over the plants can be sufficient to convince deer that the buds are not worth the effort, encouraging them to move on elsewhere.

Another option is to grow anemones in hanging baskets, as they can be placed out of reach of visiting deer. The impressive foliage and floral display produced by anemones make these plants a striking choice for planting in hanging baskets.

Keep reading!

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