Do deer eat irises, is a notion that one would worry about if they have planted them. Deer, despite being beautiful animals, can be a significant nuisance, which is why so many gardeners want to know whether irises are resistant to deer.

Do Deer Eat Irises

If you are considering expanding your knowledge on this subject, the information in this guide is an excellent place to start. Continue reading to find out which types of irises can withstand the browsing of deer, along with additional pertinent information.

Do Deer Eat Irises?

💥 Quick Answer

No, Irises are deer resistant since it is bitter and possesses a pungent odor. However, hungry deer can consume the plant if they have no other option. But still, they prefer other garden plants and will approach them only when food is scarce.


Iris Plants: Why Do Deer Not Eat Them?

Deer do not eat iris plants because it has a bitter flavor and taste that they don’t like, additionally, the texture feels unpleasant to them, as well as the pungent odor. These flowers also have a toxic trait, and thick foliage with their sharp edges, that would harm their mouth.

These are some of the most common explanations for why deer do not actually consume them, as well as their role in preventing several other animals from approaching. Apart from this, irises are easy to cultivate, and the resulting shrubs have a lovely and graceful appearance and frequently produce stunning flowers. Another benefit of growing irises is that they attract butterflies.

– Bitter Flavor and Taste

Irises have a flavor and fragrance that deer do not find appealing, which is one of the reasons why these plants have earned a reputation for being deer resistant. The flowers and leaves of this plant typically do not attract the attention of deer because of their extreme bitter taste and flavor.

– The Unpleasant Feeling of Its Texture

Because of how they feel, deer are not interested in eating the leaves of these plants, which would mean they would get agitated from the feel of the flower when they are chewing it.

The Unpleasant Feeling of Its Texture

For example, some irises have a textured surface, including hairs and ridges along their leaf edges. These animals dislike this aspect, and they find the plant most unappealing because of how they look, feel, and shape.

– Pungent Odor

Deer will avoid areas that contain iris varieties because of their potent odor. Because of the animal’s highly developed sense of smell, it is successfully scared away from the irises by its strong aroma. The aroma will fill the place and note that they have a strong sense of smell, and as they sniff it, they will repel.

The unpleasant odor, a tough texture and a flavor that deer would find less tasty. Hence, they do not get eaten by this animal. This is one of the reasons and a common practice as to why this plant acts as a deterrent to keep the animal away from the garden. Deer consider this plant to be almost inedible.

– Toxicity

The animal will also avoid certain types of irises, such as the purple iris, which contain hazardous toxins to their health. Unless they are in a tough state, deer will avoid eating anything that is poisonous.

However, whether a plant is toxic or not, on its own, is not sufficient evidence to conclude that a deer will die from consuming it, as first they will get sick and then if they have consumed it in a big amount, they will die. Because, most of the time, all that will happen is that it will make the deer sick to their stomach and cause them enough discomfort for them to steer clear of those plants.

– Thick Foliage

Deer will typically steer clear of a plant if it has thick foliage, including fibrous or leathery leaves, unless they are desperately in need of food.

Thick Foliage

Irises have dense foliage that discourages deer from eating the flowers and foliage. However, the reason is that they will have a very hard time to chew one single leaflet, and this will be exhausting for them.

– Sharp Edges

Because they have sharp edges that can cause irritation to their oral cavity and are difficult to digest, deer typically avoid grass-like iris. These sharp edges will damage the palat of the deer, and they will be harmed. Thus, you can use ornamental iris grasses in lawns and gardens and create borders around flower and vegetable beds.

What Are Iris Varieties That Are Deer-resistant Plants?

Iris varieties that are deer-resistant plants are bearded iris, Japanese iris, and Siberian Iris. On the other hand, they will also despise chewing African iris, Dutch iris and crocus iris because of their strong smell and hairy texture.

– Bearded Irises

Ever thought, are bearded irises deer resistant plants? This variant has a pungent odor, which is one reason the animal avoids it. Although this happens most of the time, some gardeners have observed that though deer prefer to munch on other plants, they can turn their attention to these flowers. This variety is indeed resistant; however, it does not imply that they are entirely safe from being consumed by deer.

Bearded Irises

Now, when you are planting, you should remember is that this plant is still at risk of being consumed by the animal. Animals only target irises after all other possible food sources have been depleted, particularly in the early spring of each year. But, in most cases, you will not see them eating the plant. In addition, they focus on the plants of this iris variety that are grown from bulbs rather than seeds.

– Japanese Irises

The reason why they find the flavor of these irises unpalatable, deer will typically avoid areas that contain them. These irises have leaves similar to grass, and remember that deer do not enjoy eating plants with textures identical to this. In addition to that, the leaves are tough and difficult to chew upon.

– Siberian Irises

Thinking, do deer eat Siberian iris? No, they definitely tend to avoid it, but if you do spot them chewing a few leaves of the variant, you could be sure they had a significant hunger.

They do not care for these types of irises because of the obvious fact-the taste is harsh, and the scent is potent which would be sniffed from afar. Hence, this is a beautiful option to consider if you are looking for irises that can withstand the presence of deer in your garden.

– African Iris

Deer don’t approach it and it will altogether avoid this type of iris. This ornamental grass is a vegeta species that quickly and easily forms dense clumps.

African Iris

The deer find chewing on the leaves challenging because of their rigid structure and fan-like shape. The blooms have a diameter of three inches and are a bright yellow color with splashes of red and orange.

– Dutch Iris

So do deer eat Dutch iris? No, the Dutch iris is also another variety of this flower which is resistant not only to deer but also to rabbits as well. However, another advantage is that the bulbs are immune to being dug up by rodents and squirrels.

– Crocus

What about an answer to the question: do deer eat crocus? You should know that this plant is deer and rabbit-resistant as well, and they produce a stunning early-spring spectacle when planted in large masses.

What Are Plants That Deer Do Not Eat?

Some plants that deer do not eat are chives, daffodils or narcissus, and lamb’s ear. Furthermore, it is also reasonable to note that they also don’t eat digitalis Ambigua, yarrow plants, and lavender. These plants are ones that they will stay away from due to their texture and aroma.

Apart from the Iris, ever wondered what flowers do deer not eat? There are a few more. Put a handful of them in place along the edges of your landscaping project to cover areas surrounding roads, flower gardens, fences, and the edges of flower beds. If you have a valuable garden feature, you should surround it with plants resistant to being eaten by deer so that it is not destroyed.

– Chives

Chives are one of the most effective pest-deterrent plants available, and their pungent odor drives away deer and other pests, such as aphids and Japanese beetles, that may be less threatening.


Onions, leeks, dill, mint, and fennel are a few more culinary herbs that can discourage deer from an area.

– Daffodils or Narcissus

Do deer eat narcissus? No they do not. This plant is one of the most well-known types of perennials in the United States. The border of your garden will be flooded with rays of brightness thanks to their star-shaped, yellow flowers.

Apart from their aesthetic appeal, lycorine is the alkaloid that can be found in this plant and is known to be poisonous to deer and rabbits. This tough plant doesn’t require much attention or care as long as the soil it’s growing in isn’t too wet to support it.

– Lamb’s Ear

This plant’s wooly leaves have a texture almost identical to velvet, just like a genuine lamb’s ear. They produce cone-shaped spikes of flowers in pink or purple, and their color resembles a silvery green. Although, bees and hummingbirds will cheerfully feast on the nectar of lamb’s ear, even though deer and rabbits will certainly avoid eating it.

– Digitalis Ambigua

They are all exceptionally resistant to damage from pests and deer in general. This perennial has a relatively long life span and produces 20-inch spikes of yellow tubular flowers with the softest texture.

Digitalis Ambigua

They can be seen from the end of May through July, however, when these spent spike is removed, it often allows for the growth of additional flowers.

– Yarrow

This plant attracts butterflies due to its feathery foliage and long-blooming flowers with flat tops. The Achillea plant is a perennial that can withstand dry conditions and grows nicely in wildflower gardens.

The plant is quite resistant to being eaten by rabbits and animals, and it also forms beautiful cut flowers and dried arrangements. However, they will also be revolted through the texture of this plant, and will be annoyed when chewing them.

– Lavender

You can plant these lavender plants in the same garden as your vegetables and herbs, or you can plant them along walkways or driveways, or you can use it to edge patios or gazebos in your yard.


They are not only resistant to damage from deer, but they also ward off insects like mosquitoes and flies. It is best to plant your perennial in areas that receive full sun and have soil that drains properly.


You now understand why deer do not prefer iris plants. Let’s review all we have learned in this article using the points listed below.

  • Irises are resistant to deer because they are bitter and have a strong smell. However, keep in mind that if a deer is starving and does not have other options, they may consume iris flowers.
  • This is one of the explanations for this plant’s deterring effect on keeping animals out of the garden, as well as a common practice. This plant is nearly unpalatable to deer.
  • Common varieties of the iris plant disliked by deer are Bearded Irises, Japanese Irises, Siberian Irises and African Irises.
  • More than iris, there are a few other plants that deer avoid eating. Place a few of them in strategic locations along the perimeter of your landscaping project to cover the areas around roads, flowerbeds, fences, and the edges of flower beds.

Irises can deter deer from entering your yard, so now that you know this, you can take the necessary precautions to safeguard your lovely plants. So get your gardening supplies and get to work before it’s too late to protect your plants from the animal.

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