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January 06, 2021 3 min read

Do deer eat honeysuckle? This is a question many ask when choosing plants that can deter deer from their fields. In this article, we will talk about the relationship between deer and honeysuckle.

Cultivating a gorgeous landscape made of jaw-dropping blooms and foliage can be challenging if you stay within an area with a high deer population. Therefore, you need to be careful about your selection of plants. The best match should be plants that are seldom damaged by deer. While choosing between evergreens, flowers, herbs, and shrubs, honeysuckle may come to mind. Because deer do not like pungent scents, honeysuckles may seem like the perfect fit. But, do deer eat honeysuckle?

Resistant Honeysuckles

In general, honeysuckles are deer resistant. However, some honeysuckle species are more resistant than others. They include:

North American Coral honeysuckle ( Lonicera sempervirens), the woody climber known for its fiery hue-colored flowers. They can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the condition. It is found in the USDA hardiness zone 4 through 9.

Boxleaf honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida), the shrubby honeysuckle, hardy in zones 6 through 9. It is quite known for its black fruits and tiny, sweet-smelling white flowers.

Privet Honeysuckle (Lonicera pileata). This honeysuckle variant has small fragrant white flowers and leaves. It is found in the hardiness zones 5 through 9

Avoid Japanese Honeysuckle

Do note that the Japanese honeysuckle ( Lonicera japonica), a more popular commercial choice and highly deer resistant, might not be great for smaller gardens. It is invasive and may kill off other native, less hardy species. This honeysuckle species is also known for its viny nature, which can provide beds for deer. When deer bed down within them, they leave behind ticks, which can be Lyme disease carriers. If such infected honeysuckle berries are eaten, they can cause an untold number of issues, including stomach upset. Some regions also discourage growers from cultivating the Japanese honeysuckle. So, you should check with your country’s agricultural agent to make sure it is all right. If honeysuckle isn’t allowed in your area, plants like crossvine (Bignonia caperolata), Carolina yellow jasmine, and boxwood are great substitutes.

Honeysuckle is not entirely deer-proof.

While honeysuckle is generally resistant, there is one critical factor. Young shoots of all plants are deer favorites. So honeysuckle can still be eaten by these voracious eaters. Fertilized honeysuckle is also a great attractant, so you might find them eaten to the ground. Nonetheless, if you live in an area where honeysuckles are native plants, you may have a hard time convincing the deer in that area that honeysuckles are not palatable. Most growers in such areas often find their honeysuckle plots eaten to the ground.

Concluding Thoughts

Now to answer the question – do deer eat honeysuckle? The shortest answer is No. However, the conditions may state otherwise. Some honeysuckle species are not deer resistant. Others are deer resistant but too invasive and may prevent other native plants from growing in the area. Consider using less invasive honeysuckle species or other deer-resistant species out there. If you are stuck on honeysuckle, do ensure your county permits it before cultivation.

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