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If your local deer are in the habit of wandering through your yard, planning a deer-friendly flower garden can be a troublesome task. But are impatiens the answer to your problems, or do deer eat impatiens? Let’s find out!

What Are Impatiens?

Are impatiens on a deer's to-eat list?
Are impatiens on a deer’s to-eat list?

As the warmth of spring starts to creep in, your local garden store will become filled with bedding plants to brighten up our yards. Impatiens come top of the list for many plant shoppers, as they tick all the boxes – colorful, easy to grow, and very versatile!

Impatiens are a popular bedding plant, loved for their abundant display of brightly colored flowers. The blooms come in a range of colors, including pink, white, coral, red, purple, and yellow. Impatiens are perennial plants, but they are not frost-hardy and are more often grown as annuals.

These versatile bedding plants grow rapidly and will thrive in shade or partial sun. They are popular for hanging baskets and window boxes and are also ideal for providing a splash of color in containers and filling in gaps in your flower borders.

If the name impatiens is not familiar to you, this is because they have many other commonly used names! These include jewelweed, touch-me-not, snapweed, patience, balsam, and busy lizzie.

Do Deer Eat Impatiens?

New Guinea Impatiens hybrid in a container
New Guinea Impatiens hybrid in a container

Deer can and will eat impatiens, and these plants are listed as ‘occasionally severely damaged’ by Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey.

They will eat all parts of the plant, but favor the sweetly-scented flowers and soft green foliage. Deer will also trample on and snap the growing stems of impatiens plants as they browse for food.

What Has Eaten My Impatiens?

If your beautiful floral display of impatiens has been destroyed overnight, it is all too easy to point the finger of blame at deer. However, many other animals enjoy eating this plant too!

Some of the pests that eat impatiens are so small that they may be difficult to spot at first. Spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and thrips can all infest impatiens plants, causing the leaves to become curled and discolored.

Slugs and snails will also happily nibble on impatiens leaves, as will some species of caterpillars.

If your plants survive the onslaught of these smaller pests, then a host of larger animals are queuing up to eat your beautiful display of impatiens!

Deer are pretty high up on the list of suspects, but other animals such as rabbits, rats, opossums, and chipmunks will also happily eat impatiens.

With this long list of creatures that eat impatiens, it may make you wonder why anyone bothers growing them at all! However, these plants grow rapidly and put on an abundant display of flowers, making them a worthwhile addition to any flower garden.

How Do I Stop Deer From Eating My Impatiens?

How do I keep deer from eating my impatiens? Hanging baskets are a great option!
How do I keep deer from eating my impatiens? Hanging baskets are a great option!

The best way to protect your impatiens from deer is by erecting a physical barrier such as a mesh fence or electric wire. This could be around the entire yard’s boundary or smaller barriers around your flower borders.

The joy of impatiens is that they grow well in containers, so it is easy to place them in areas that deer cannot access. Hanging baskets are ideal for this purpose, as they can be positioned at a height that deer cannot reach.

Wild deer are nervous creatures and many can be deterred from visiting your yard by using audio deterrents such as wind chimes. They do quickly get used to new sounds, but it can be enough to keep them at bay during the summer months when your plants are flowering.

Will Impatiens Grow Back After Deer Eat Them?

Whether impatiens grow back after deer have eaten them will depend on the extent of the damage. If the main stem and roots of the plant remain intact, the plant will likely survive and grow back.

The joy of impatiens is that they are so fast-growing that you could enjoy the sweet-smelling flowers again within a few weeks.

Are Any Impatiens Deer Resistant?

You will see a huge array of varieties of impatiens for sale at the garden store, in a dazzling range of colors. But are there any particular varieties of impatiens that are deer resistant?

Unfortunately not – most impatiens commonly sold in plant centers can and will be eaten by foraging deer, with one notable exception.

SunPatiens is a hybridized type of impatiens, developed by seed companies who were seeking a variety that thrives in full sun. An unexpected bonus is that these plants have a bitter flavor that deer seem to find unpleasant.

And don’t forget that there are over one thousand species of impatiens around the world, so there may be more varieties out there somewhere that are resistant to deer!

Deer and Impatiens FAQ

What flowering plant is deer resistant?

If you’ve found it impossible to stop deer from destroying your impatiens, it might be time to start looking at more deer-resistant plants. By creating a flower garden of deer-resistant plants, you can eliminate the worry of trying to keep deer out of your yard!
Strategic planting of deer-resistant plants can also enable you to continue planting flowers that deer like, such as impatiens. For example, deer do not enjoy eating calendula, sweet alyssum, or nicotiana, so these can be planted as a barrier on the edges of your border.

Will deer eat geraniums?

Pelargoniums, or annual geraniums, are moderately deer resistant and do not tend to be eaten by deer. This is due to the pungent aroma of the flowers and the bitter taste of the leaves, both of which deer find unpleasant.
However, geraniums are not toxic to deer, and hungry deer are known to eat even the most unappealing plants when other food sources are scarce.

Do deer eat marigolds and zinnias?

Both French marigold and calendula (pot marigold) are good choices for a deer-friendly garden, as they are listed as seldom and rarely damaged by Rutgers. Zinnia also falls into the seldom damaged category, and are unlikely to be eaten by visiting deer. 

Do deer eat pansies?

Pansies are much loved for the splash of color they provide during the cooler winter months. However, deer also enjoy pansies, and seem to particularly like nibbling at the sweet-scented flowers!

Do deer eat petunias?

Deer can and will eat petunias – any deer that visit your yard will most likely seek out the tasty flowers of these popular plants. Some gardeners believe that petunias even attract deer to their gardens, causing them to shun these plants altogether.

Do deer eat black-eyed Susans?

Rudbeckia, or black-eyed Susans, are considered to be deer resistant. This is due to the fuzzy texture of this popular perennial plant, which deer find unpleasant. They do not seem to find the foliage particularly tasty, but hungry deer may nibble at the plant as they pass through your yard. 

Thank you for reading this deer resistant flowers article – we hope you enjoyed it!

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