do deer eat butterfly bush

Do Deer Eat Butterfly Bush?

Written by: Gemmali Dizor

Yes, deer can eat butterfly bushes, also known as Buddleia, which are popular ornamental shrubs. They are known for their attractive foliage and vibrant flowers that bloom in a variety of colors. However, if you live in an area with a large deer population, you may have noticed that your butterfly bushes are not as healthy as they used to be, or worse, they are completely gone. This is because deer will eat almost anything they can get their mouths on, and butterfly bushes are no exception.

The Importance of Understanding Deer Eating Habits

Deer are known to be voracious eaters and will feed on a variety of plants, including ornamental shrubs, trees, and flowers. They are especially fond of tender new growth and leaves, which is why butterfly bushes are often a target. Understanding the eating habits of deer is important for gardeners who want to keep their plants safe and healthy. Knowing what deer are attracted to and what plants are less likely to be damaged by them can help you make informed decisions about what to plant in your garden.

The Palatability of Butterfly Bushes to Deer

Butterfly bushes are considered to be a low to moderate risk for deer damage, which means that they are not a preferred food source for deer, but they may still be eaten if other food sources are not available. The palatability of butterfly bushes can vary depending on the variety, the growing conditions, and the local deer population. Some varieties are more palatable than others, and the growing conditions can also affect the taste and nutritional value of the plant.

Protecting Your Butterfly Bushes from Deer

There are several methods you can use to protect your butterfly bushes from deer damage, including physical barriers, deterrent sprays, and companion planting.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers such as fences, netting, and mesh can be used to keep deer away from your butterfly bushes. A fence should be at least 8 feet tall to keep deer out, and mesh or netting should be tightly secured to the shrub to prevent deer from getting through. However, this method can be expensive and may not be practical for larger gardens or landscapes.

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Deterrent Sprays

There are several deterrent sprays available that contain natural or synthetic ingredients that are unpleasant to deer, but safe for other wildlife and humans. These sprays can be applied directly to the leaves and stems of butterfly bushes, and need to be reapplied after rain or heavy dew. Some popular ingredients include egg solids, putrescent whole egg solids, and spicy herbs like capsaicin.

Companion Planting

Companion planting involves planting butterfly bushes with other plants that are less attractive to deer or have a strong odor that deer find unappealing. Examples of companion plants for butterfly bushes include herbs such as rosemary, lavender, and thyme, as well as plants with strong scents such as alliums, daffodils, and garlic.


Butterfly bushes can be a popular target for deer, but there are several methods that can be used to protect them. Understanding the eating habits of deer and the palatability of butterfly bushes can help you make informed decisions about what to plant in your garden. Whether you use physical barriers, deterrent sprays, or companion planting, there are options available to keep your butterfly bushes safe and healthy.

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