Debunking the Myth: Do Deer Really Eat Zinnias? Unveiling the Truth and Tips for Protecting Your Garden

April 23, 2023 in animal welfare, environment

Article summary and Key takeaways: Deer do not typically eat zinnias, as they possess characteristics that make them unappealing to deer. Understanding deer feeding habits and the characteristics of zinnias can help gardeners choose deer-resistant plants. While no plant is entirely immune to deer browsing, zinnias are generally considered deer-resistant due to their bitter taste and strong aroma. Despite this, there is a common misconception that deer eat zinnias, which may stem from observations of deer nibbling on them. To protect zinnias from deer, gardeners can plant deer-resistant flowers and plants nearby, apply deer repellents, or use physical barriers like fences or netting. Implementing a combination of these strategies can significantly reduce the chances of deer damage in the garden.

Do Deer Eat Zinnias? No, They Won’t

Have you ever wondered if deer eat zinnias? If you are a gardener or someone who enjoys growing flowers, this question might have crossed your mind. The importance of understanding whether deer eat zinnias or not lies in the fact that deer can cause significant damage to gardens and flowers. It is essential to know which plants are deer-resistant to ensure the longevity and beauty of your garden. In this article, we will delve into the topic of deer and zinnias, understanding deer feeding habits, the characteristics of zinnias, and debunking the common misconceptions surrounding this subject.

Understanding Deer Feeding Habits

Before we discuss zinnias specifically, let’s gain a general understanding of deer feeding habits. Deer are herbivores, primarily feeding on vegetation such as grass, leaves, twigs, and fruits. However, their food preferences can be influenced by various factors, including seasonal availability, region, and competition for resources. While deer have a diverse diet, there are certain plants and flowers that they tend to favor.

Common plants and flowers that deer typically eat include hostas, tulips, daylilies, impatiens, and petunias. These plants are often sought after by deer due to their palatability and nutritional content.

Zinnias and Their Characteristics

Zinnias are beautiful flowering plants that are popular among gardeners for their vibrant colors and ease of cultivation. They belong to the Asteraceae family and are native to Mexico and Southwestern United States. Zinnias come in various varieties, including dwarf, single-flowered, and double-flowered, and they can be found in a wide range of colors such as red, pink, orange, yellow, and white.

What makes zinnias particularly attractive to gardeners is their ability to thrive in different climates and soil conditions. They are also known for their long blooming period, making them an excellent choice for adding color and beauty to any garden.

Deer Resistance in Zinnias

Research and studies have shown that zinnias are generally deer-resistant. While no plant can be completely immune to deer browsing, zinnias have certain characteristics that make them unappealing to deer. One factor is their bitter taste, which deer tend to avoid. Additionally, zinnias produce a strong aroma that can deter deer from approaching them.

Comparing zinnias with other flowers and plants that deer tend to avoid, such as daffodils, lavender, and marigolds, it becomes evident that zinnias can be a great choice for gardeners who want to minimize deer damage in their gardens.

Common Misconceptions about Deer and Zinnias

Despite the research and evidence supporting the deer resistance of zinnias, there is still a widespread belief that deer eat zinnias. This misconception may stem from observations where deer have been seen nibbling on zinnias. However, it is essential to consider other factors when assessing deer damage in gardens.

Deer are opportunistic feeders, and their choices of food can vary depending on the availability of other plants. If a garden lacks their preferred food sources, deer may resort to eating plants that are generally considered deer-resistant, including zinnias. It is crucial to remember that deer damage does not necessarily imply that zinnias are their preferred or desired food.

Tips for Protecting Zinnias from Deer

If you want to ensure that your zinnias remain untouched by deer, here are some non-lethal methods that can help deter deer from eating them:

  • Plant deer-resistant flowers and plants near your zinnias, creating a barrier that deer are less likely to cross.
  • Apply deer repellents, either homemade or commercially available, to make your zinnias less appealing to deer.
  • Use physical barriers like fences or netting around your garden to keep deer out.

It is also worth noting that no method is foolproof, as deer can be persistent and adaptable. However, implementing a combination of these strategies can significantly reduce the chances of deer damage in your garden.


In conclusion, deer do not typically eat zinnias. While no plant is entirely immune to deer browsing, zinnias possess characteristics that make them unappealing to deer. Understanding deer feeding habits, the characteristics of zinnias, and debunking common misconceptions surrounding the topic can help gardeners make informed decisions when it comes to choosing deer-resistant plants.

So, don’t be deterred from planting zinnias in your garden. Enjoy their vibrant colors and beauty without worrying too much about deer damage. With the right strategies in place, you can create a garden that thrives and brings joy to both you and the wildlife around you.

Question: Will deer eat marigolds or zinnias?
Answer: Deer may eat both marigolds and zinnias, as they are not typically deer-resistant plants.

Question: What is the most deer resistant flower?
Answer: Some of the most deer-resistant flowers include daffodils, lavender, and yarrow.

Question: What is eating my zinnias?
Answer: Various pests like aphids, caterpillars, or snails may be eating your zinnias.

Question: What animals do zinnias attract?
Answer: Zinnias can attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds due to their vibrant colors and nectar-rich flowers.


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About the author 

Jamie Willson

Hey there, I'm Jamie! As a Climate Scientist from MIT, I've spent years unraveling the complexities of global warming. My work ranges from conducting research on climate impacts to advising on environmental policies. I'm passionate about making the science of climate change accessible and actionable. Join me as we explore practical solutions to one of the biggest challenges facing our planet.