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Do deer eat phlox? Phlox is a perennial plant that grows in different parts of the world. They are commonly abundant in North America, especially in areas with open woodlands or alpine tundra, although there are species of phlox found as far as Siberia.

Phlox plants bloom at different times of the year. Some species flower in summer, while others do so in fall and spring. One question always comes up; do deer eat phlox? Read on to get an answer.

Most phlox plants are fragrant. Since these flowers have intense colors, the Greeks named them phlox, which means flame. Different species of this plant grow differently. For example, some species grow a little taller than others (often called tall phlox) while others are called creeping phlox. 

Do Deer Eat Phlox?

A flowerbed with Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata)
A flowerbed with garden phlox (Phlox paniculata)

As a gardener, one of the things you may want to know before planting phlox is whether deer eat phlox. This question has no straight answer, as it varies depending on circumstances.

Generally, deer avoid eating some types of phlox, especially sub-species such as Woodland Phlox. This is because almost all Phlox species have very strong smells which irritate the deer.

That being said, there are circumstances in which deer will consume phlox. Rutgers University lists Phlox as ‘occasionally severely damaged.’ Some of these circumstances include:

  1. During early spring, when the deer have just come out of winter, there may not be enough food. 
  2. During periods when deer do not have enough food to eat.
  3. Some species of Phlox are more likely to be consumed by deer than others, regardless of the circumstances. 

What Phlox Is Deer Resistant?

As noted earlier, some species of Phlox are more deer resistant than others. If you live in an area where deer threaten gardens, here are some species you could consider growing.

Moss Phlox

Phlox subulata (creeping phlox, moss phlox, moss pink, or mountain phlox)
Creeping phlox or moss phlox (Phlox subulata)

This type of creeping phlox does well in areas where the soil is well-drained and humus-heavy. This perennial is also known by its scientific name Phlox subulata.

To get the best results, moss phlox does exceptionally well in areas that enjoy good sunshine and where moisture levels are not too high. Phlox subulata is occasionally severely damaged by deer, which means it is not entirely deer resistant.

While your moss phlox is typically safe from deer, rabbits enjoy it, so you may need to protect your moss phlox garden if you live in an area with many wild rabbits.

Creeping Phlox

Purple creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
Purple creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera)

Known by its scientific name Phlox stolonifera, creeping phlox grows low, and its stems never grow above a foot from the ground. It requires the same conditions as moss phlox, which means lots of sunshine and soil with plenty of humus.

Unlike moss phlox, however, it is not a favorite dish of rabbits, which means that if you have deer and rabbits around your garden, you are better off with this sub-species of phlox rather than the moss phlox.

Sand Phlox

Sand phlox or Phlox bifida
Sand phlox (Phlox bifida)

Sand phlox or Phlox bifida is a creeping variant of the phlox species. Unlike the two we have mentioned, this species of moss does well in areas with partial shade and areas with plenty of sunshine. It also grows well in well-drained soils and those with plenty of humus.

One of the reasons why sand phlox is a gardener’s favorite is that it can also adapt to moderately dry areas, which means that it is pretty drought-resistant. It can also do well in regions that have shallow or rocky solids. Indeed, sand phlox is one of the hardiest subspecies of the phlox family.

Are Phlox Ground Cover Plants Deer Resistant?

Ground cover phlox species (also called creeping phlox as they often grow just a foot from the ground) spread horizontally. Some creeping phlox plants are fairly deer resistant and an ideal choice for creeping phlox to plant in an area with lots of deer.

However, some subspecies of phlox that are deer resistant may be susceptible to rabbits. Given that you are likely to have wild rabbits in the same habitat as wild deer, it is a good idea to consider this. Phlox stolonifera is one ground cover phlox sub-species mostly resistant to deer and rabbits. 

Is Woodland Phlox Deer Resistant?

Woodland phlox is a creeping phlox native to the eastern side of the United States. Woodland phlox has blue and white blooms. This is why it is sometimes referred to as the wild blue phlox.

It grows slowly relative to other types of creeping phlox and forms a thick mat-like cover on the ground. The stems can grow vertically to about a foot high, although this kind of vertical growth is relatively rare. This phlox sub-species works well in different soils, including clay soils. 

Woodland phlox is deer resistant, although it can be susceptible to rabbits. It is also a gardeners’ favorite as it is known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. 

How to Keep Deer From Eating Phlox

There are several ways to protect your phlox garden from deer. Here are some of the tried and tested ways to do this.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers such as fencing are among the most effective ways to keep deer away from your garden. Since deer can dig under a fence or squeeze through gaps between the fence, making your fence as deer-proof as possible is essential.

You should ensure that it extends, to some degree, below the ground to prevent deer from digging underneath it. The planks on the fencing should be no further than 6 inches apart, effectively keeping even the smallest deer from squeezing through.

Although an 8-foot-high fence should be effective in preventing deer from jumping over, you should be aware that some species of deer can easily jump that. In such a case, you should consider having angled netting or thorny shrubs topping the fence to prevent deer from jumping over.

Noise Deterrents

Wind chimes as deer deterrent
Wind chimes as deer deterrent

Almost all deer species are sensitive to noise and will generally flee when they hear any sound. For this reason, many gardeners use a variety of noise-creating mechanisms to keep deer off their phlox gardens.

A favorite mechanism is wind chimes, which require no artificial energy source. For gardeners facing serious deer problems, humming sounds produced by electrical wires may boost some of the measures listed here. However, deer are more resistant to electrical deterrents than most other animals.

Deer Deterrent Sprays

spraying plants with deer deterrent spray
Spraying plants with deer deterrent spray

This is yet another effective way of protecting your phlox garden from deer. When applied, it produces scents that keep deer away from your garden. This is because deer have a very acute sense of smell and generally dislike strong odors.

One of the reasons why gardeners across the United States favor this approach is because, after a while, deer may avoid your garden even when the deterrent spray is not applied. 

Plant Deer Resistant Phlox

Some phlox sub-species are more deer resistant than others, and planting these subspecies in your garden is also likely to minimize overall deer damage.

Remember that even if you plant deer-resistant phlox, there are times of the year when deer may still feed on your phlox, such as during early spring. For this reason, combining these measures is probably the best way to protect your garden from deer attacks.

Does Phlox Grow Back If Deer Eat Them?

If you have been unlucky enough to suffer from a deer attack on your garden, the next question might be if your phlox will grow again.

Phlox plants are a tough perennial species and will easily grow back after being eaten by deer. In fact, if the damage is done during the growing season, the phlox plants will continue growing. Taller species of phlox plants may fail to flower that year but will undoubtedly bloom again the following year.

The recovery rate from deer damage depends on the damage’s timing and severity. 

Verdict: Is Phlox Deer Resistant?

In a general sense, yes, it is. Phlox is one of the better choices that you can make if you are looking for a garden plant that is deer resistant. Although not 100% safe from deer, it holds up much better than many other garden plants.

However, if your garden is in an area that is prone to deer attacks, it might be safer to use different mechanisms to keep deer away from your garden. 

Keep reading!

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