“Do deer eat hibiscus plants?” might be asked when your hibiscus leaves, flowers, or branches are missing and you suspect deer.

Do Deer Eat Hibiscus Plants

Well, deer sometimes eat these plants, but you need to be sure by investigating further.

Continue reading to learn how to watch out for deer and ways to prevent them from eating your plants.

Do Deer Eat Hibiscus Plants?

💥 Deer do eat hibiscus plants, but not too regularly to make you worried. On a scale of how frequently deer eat hibiscus plants, deer can be rated as “seldom severely damaged” which is just after “rarely damaged” and quite far from “frequently severely damaged.” 


This means that deer will not frequently visit your garden because of the hibiscuses. Deer may eat an hibiscus simply because they are grazing and then find the plants. They can also eat the plants when they are hungry but cannot find attractive plants. What you must know is that if deer always visit your garden, there is something else (i.e., not the hibiscuses) that is attracting them.

What could be attracting deer into your garden? It could be food waste that you left undisposed. It could also be the unfinished bird feed in your garden. Whatever the case, if you think that deer are eating your hibiscuses, you must investigate to know the cause so that you can get a better and long-lasting solution.

How Can You Tell That Deer Are Eating Your Hibiscus Plants?

You can tell that deer are eating your hibiscuses by observing the area, checking for deer poop and footprints, and seeing the deer in action. Other ways you can tell they are eating your plants are bite marks and, of course, catching them in the act.

– If You Have Deer in Your Area

The first thing that you should ask if your hibiscus leaves and other parts of the plants are missing is if there are deer in your area. You should first know the pests available in your area because you start suspecting one as the prime suspect.

If You Have Deer in Your Area

Have you seen deer visit your garden before? How often do people in your area complain about deer invading their gardens? If there are no deer in your area, you do not need to ask if deer are responsible for the damage to your hibiscuses or not because the answer is “No.”

– Check the Plants at Night

Even though deer are active at any time of the day, they have adapted to mostly move at night, especially when they live around humans. Deer move mostly at night so that they can eat your garden vegetables while you are asleep and they can enter and leave your garden undetected.

You most likely discovered that your hibiscus leaves are missing when you woke up and checked your plants in the morning. 

Check the Plants at Night

This means that the pest responsible ate the leaves at night. While you can stay awake or remain vigilant at night, you can easily install portable cameras in your garden to monitor the plants when you sleep.

You only need to play the recording in the morning to know what is responsible for your missing hibiscus leaves.

– Check for Deer Poop and Footprints Around the Plants

Even though deer do not want you to know that they visited your garden at night, there is a sure way to know if deer are responsible for your missing hibiscus leaves or not. You can know by checking around the plants for evidence that they were visited by deer. If deer enter your garden, you will find their footprints and poop. You may also find their hair on the leaves of some plants.

Deer footprints look like an inverted heart that is split into two. As for the poop, it should still look fresh in the morning. Deer poop is round just like that of goats, clustered or scattered, and dark brown or black. Check every plant in your garden and not just the hibiscuses. With the presence of deer poop and footprints, you can tell the most desirable plants for deer in your garden.

– Check for Bite Marks on the Plant’s Leaves

Deer that eat plants do not just steal the leaves, they leave bite marks on some leaves. The leaves with deer bite marks will most likely be almost entirely eaten and only the parts of the leaf nearest to the petiole or branch will remain uneaten. The bite marks are similar to that of goats on leaves.

As for the missing leaves, check for their petioles and branches. If a lot of petioles got pulled from the branches, it means that the pest responsible is a mammal that has strong biting power.

If the missing leaves are around the top or middle of the plant, it could be deer that are responsible, as other mammalian pests such as rabbits and groundhogs usually attack lower leaves.

– If You See the Deer

It does not matter your investigation technique, the first person to see deer eating the hibiscus plants is the one who caught the deer red-handed. Deer will most likely visit your garden at night or very early in the morning, so you can catch them eating your hibiscuses if you check your garden at the right time.

If You See the Deer

When you see one deer in your garden, you should check for others. You should check for others because they can be scattered around your garden eating other desirable plants. You should also take note of how they entered your garden by scaring them away to see how they leave the garden.

Deer Control Methods

You can prevent deer from eating your hibiscuses by fencing your garden, using scent-based natural repellents, and scaring the animals away.

Other methods include using natural deer repellents, such as certain plants, and planting your flowers far from plants that actively attract the deer.

– Fence Your Garden

The first thing that should come to your mind when you see deer in your garden is to fence the garden so that you can protect your garden plants from deer. The fence can be a wire mesh or an electric fence.

Just make sure that the height of the fence is 6 feet tall or higher. Also, ensure that the bottom parts of the fence reach the ground so that fawn do not force their way into the garden.

Fence Your Garden

If you do not like the idea of fencing your garden, consider buying wire mesh and protecting your plants with it at night, and removing it from your garden in the morning.

– Use Scent-Based Repellents

“Scent-based repellents” refer to products that can scare deer away from your garden with their smell. For example, rotten eggs repel deer, rabbits, and other pests from your garden. If you grind fresh garlic, mix it with water, and spray it on your hibiscus leaves, it can repel deer for a day. Cloves and dry mints are also products that you can use to repel deer.

The problem with most of these products is that they work for just a day or two and become ineffective. This means that you only want to use them as temporary solutions until you find long-lasting solutions such as building a fence.

– Wrap the Plants With a Tarp or Fabric

Buy a large fabric or tarp and wrap your hibiscus plants with it at night. Wrapping the plants can keep them safe from deer and other pest attacks at night when you sleep.

Remember to remove the tarp or fabric when you wake up in the morning so that the plant can be well-exposed to sunlight. Please note that fabric with little holes is better than a tarp so that the leaves of your plants can easily exchange gases.

– Use Natural Deer Repellents

Some natural deer repellents that you can use to prevent deer from eating your hibiscuses are:

Use Natural Deer Repellents

  • Dog hair: Most animals including deer are scared of dogs and other predators, so they leave a place when they see a lot of dog hair. This method is not fully guaranteed to work.
  • Pepper: Deer use their tongue, so when a plant is too hot or spicy, they will leave it. Mix pepper powder with water and spray it on your hibiscus leaves.
  • Naphthalene balls: You can easily get them in gardening stores and spray them around your garden. They help to repel deer and so many other pests.

– Plant Your Hibiscuses Far From Plants That Attract Deer

There are some plants that attract deer into your garden. These plants are not just sweet-smelling; they also taste great. If you have plants that quickly attract deer, you want to grow your hibiscuses far from them. 

Some plants that attract deer are:

  • Hostas
  • Daylilies
  • Geraniums
  • Fruiting plants
  • Vegetable crops

These plants deer love can be a danger to your hibiscuses, so grow them far from your hibiscus plants. You can tell the most desirable plants for deer in your garden by investigating the ones that deer attack the most.

– Plant Your Hibiscuses Near Deer-Resistant Plants

Some plants are deer resistant. This means that the plants have qualities that deer do not like. If deer are disturbing your garden plants, you should introduce deer-resistant plants into the garden. Here are some deer-resistant plants that you can grow.

Grow these plants near the edges of your garden:

  • Lavender: Lavender makes a good garden edge plant, as it easily repels deer and other plants due to its scent.
  • Foxglove: These plants are naturally toxic, so many animals including deer have instincts to avoid them so that they do not get poisoned.
  • Sage: The scent of sage repels deer and some other pests.
  • Mint: Just like sage, mints repel deer with their scent.

– Scare the Animals Away

You should scare deer away from your garden so that they can learn not to enter your garden anymore. Even though deer are cute and you may be tempted to feed them, do not allow them to enter your garden.

You can scare them away and feed them somewhere else. If deer have access to your garden and easily find food in it, they will eat your hibiscuses whenever they can no longer find food.

Scare the Animals Away

Deer are scared of humans, so you can easily scare them away. When scaring them away from your garden, take note of where they follow out of the garden and try to build a high fence there so that they can no longer enter the garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Are Some Deer-Resistant Hibiscus Varieties?

Some deer-resistant hibiscus varieties that you can grow are:

  • Helene
  • Diana
  • Freedom
  • Red Heart
  • Pink Giant
  • Blushing Bride

These hibiscus varieties are referred to as “hardy hibiscus” because they are pest-resistant plants. They are also easy to grow. Note that they are not entirely deer-proof.

2. What Can Attract Deer Into Your Garden?

There are items that will attract deer into your garden specifically and make it irresistible. You can avoid a lot of problems by simply removing some things from your garden, or rearranging certain elements.

  • Bird feeders
  • Food waste
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Deer-attracting plants

3. What Other Pests Other Than Deer Eat Hibiscus Plants?

Some other pests that eat hibiscus plants and may be responsible for damaging your hibiscus leaves are rabbit and squirrels. But they are by no means the only culprits.

  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Groundhogs
  • Insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and aphids.
  • Spider mites


Growing hibiscus plants will be easier for you now because your plants will be free from deer and other pests.

Here are some reminders from this article for you:

  • Deer eat these plants, but not very frequently, so your plants will not be severely damaged because of the presence of deer.
  • If deer frequently enter your garden, they could be entering because of other desirable foods and plants such as food waste, bird feed, and vegetables.
  • If deer can enter your garden, you need to fence the garden with a fence that is at least 6 feet tall.
  • Some natural deer repellents that you can use are dog hair and urine, pepper, and mint plants.
  • Always scare deer away from your garden when you see them so that they will learn not to enter your garden.

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