Does Deer Eat Coleus?

Gardening is a wonderful hobby that brings joy to many, but it’s not always smooth sailing. One common challenge gardeners face is the presence of deer in their garden spaces. These graceful creatures can be a real headache for those who love their gardens. In this article, we’ll explore one specific aspect of this issue: do deer eat coleus plants? Understanding the behavior of deer and their dining preferences is the first step in maintaining a beautiful garden that includes these vibrant, leafy ornamentals.

Deer Behavior

Deer are fascinating creatures that roam through woodlands, meadows, and even suburban neighborhoods. They’re herbivores, which means their diet consists primarily of plants. These gentle browsers typically munch on leaves, twigs, grasses, and tender shoots. While they may seem picky, they’re not exactly gourmands. Instead, they choose their meals based on what’s readily available and, unfortunately for gardeners, coleus plants are often on the menu.

Understanding deer’s natural behavior is essential when it comes to protecting your garden. Their eating habits are influenced by various factors, including the season and the local food supply. By comprehending why deer might be attracted to your garden in the first place, you can take steps to deter them and keep your coleus plants safe and thriving.

Coleus Plant Profile

Coleus, scientifically known as Plectranthus scutellarioides, is a delightful and vibrant addition to any garden. What makes coleus so popular is its stunning foliage. These plants come in an array of colors, from rich reds and purples to vibrant greens and yellows, often sporting intricate patterns and designs on their leaves. Coleus is renowned for its beauty and versatility, making it a favorite among garden enthusiasts.

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These plants are typically grown for their foliage rather than their flowers. Coleus leaves are the stars of the show, and they come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Whether you’re looking to create a visually striking container garden, a colorful border, or a unique focal point in your landscape, coleus is a fantastic choice. But as much as we adore coleus, so do deer, and they may find these lush leaves quite tempting.

Do Deer Eat Coleus?

The answer to the burning question is simple: yes, deer do eat coleus. These graceful creatures, while known for their graceful demeanor, are not so discerning when it comes to choosing their meals. The lush, tender foliage of coleus plants can be irresistibly appetizing to them. Deer, with their keen sense of smell and ability to detect delicious plants from a distance, often decide to graze on your precious coleus.

It’s important to understand that while coleus might be a tasty treat for deer, they won’t devour your entire garden in one night. Their grazing can vary in intensity, depending on the local deer population, the time of year, and the availability of other food sources. However, if you’re passionate about keeping your coleus thriving, you’ll want to take steps to protect them from these hungry visitors. In the following sections, we’ll explore ways to safeguard your coleus from deer and preserve the beauty of your garden.

Protecting Your Coleus from Deer

Preserving the lush beauty of your coleus plants in the face of deer munching on them is essential. Fortunately, there are several practical strategies to help you protect your coleus and keep your garden looking vibrant.

  1. Deer-Resistant Plants: One effective approach is to strategically plant deer-resistant species near your coleus. By creating a natural barrier of less tempting options, you can deter deer from approaching your prized plants.
  2. Deer Repellents: Deer repellent products are available in various forms, from sprays to granules. These emit scents or tastes that deer find unappealing, making your garden less attractive to them. Regularly applying these repellents can be a simple and effective way to keep deer at bay.
  3. Fencing: Installing a sturdy fence around your garden is one of the most foolproof methods of keeping deer away. Ensure the fence is at least six to eight feet tall to prevent these graceful jumpers from entering. Fencing requires an initial investment but provides long-lasting protection.
  4. Garden Design: Thoughtful garden design can also discourage deer. Position your coleus plants near the home or other structures, as deer are generally more cautious about approaching areas with human activity.
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By combining these strategies, you can safeguard your coleus plants and enjoy their vibrant colors and patterns without the worry of deer damage.


In the world of gardening, understanding the nuances of nature is vital. When it comes to the question of whether deer eat coleus, the answer is clear: they do. Coleus, with its captivating foliage, can be a delicacy for these graceful creatures. However, you don’t need to give up on your love for coleus or resign yourself to their fate as deer snacks.

By comprehending deer behavior, choosing protective plants, utilizing repellents, installing proper fencing, and considering garden design, you can maintain your coleus plants’ splendor and preserve the charm of your garden. Remember, with the right knowledge and a few strategic moves, you can coexist peacefully with these garden visitors while keeping your garden thriving and looking its best.