do deer eat lilac

Do Deer Eat Lilac?

Written by: Gemmali Dizor
Last updated on:

The answer to the question is yes, deer do eat lilacs. However, the frequency and extent of their consumption of this particular plant depend on several factors. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why deer may or may not be attracted to lilacs, the impact their grazing can have on the plants, and ways to prevent or minimize damage to your lilac bushes.

Reasons Why Deer May be Attracted to Lilacs

Lilacs are a popular ornamental shrub, known for their fragrant flowers and attractive foliage. While they are not a staple food source for deer, they may be attracted to lilacs for a variety of reasons.

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Food Availability

In areas where other food sources are scarce, deer may turn to lilacs as a last resort. During periods of drought or harsh winters, when their natural food sources become scarce, deer may browse a wider variety of plants, including lilacs.

Lack of Natural Food Sources

In suburban and urban areas, where natural food sources for deer have been lost to development, they may turn to ornamental plants for sustenance. In such cases, lilacs may become part of their diet.

Plant Composition

Lilacs contain several compounds that are attractive to deer, such as sugars and amino acids. The leaves, twigs, and flowers of the lilac plant are all palatable to deer.

The Impact of Deer Grazing on Lilacs

While deer may not completely consume a lilac bush, their browsing can significantly impact its growth and appearance. In severe cases, repeated browsing can cause the death of the plant.

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Damage to Young Shoots and Leaves

Deer are particularly fond of new growth on lilac bushes and will often nibble on tender shoots and leaves. This can stunt the growth of the bush, leaving it looking thin and leggy.

Destruction of Flowers

Deer love to snack on the fragrant flowers of lilac bushes. While this may not cause immediate harm to the plant, it can reduce the overall beauty and impact of the bush in the landscape.

Methods to Prevent or Minimize Damage

Fortunately, there are several methods that you can use to prevent or minimize deer damage to your lilac bushes.


One of the most effective methods to prevent deer from browsing on lilacs is to install a sturdy fence around the area. A fence that is at least 8 feet tall should be sufficient to deter deer from entering the area.


There are several commercial repellents available on the market that can be used to deter deer from browsing lilac bushes. These repellents can be applied to the foliage of the bush and will produce an unpleasant odor or taste that will discourage deer from eating the plant.

Planting Alternatives

In areas where deer are a persistent problem, it may be necessary to consider planting alternative ornamental shrubs that are less appealing to deer. There are several varieties of ornamental shrubs that are resistant to deer browsings, such as boxwoods and holly.


In conclusion, while deer do eat lilacs, the extent of their consumption of this particular plant depends on several factors, including food availability, lack of natural food sources, and plant composition. The impact of deer browsing on lilac bushes can range from minor to severe, affecting the growth and appearance of the plant. By using methods such as fencing, repellents, and planting alternatives, you can prevent or minimize damage to your lilac bushes.

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