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March 12, 2021 3 min read

Nandinas can be poisonous, but deer also eats everything. In this article, we will talk about deer and nandinas and the reasons for adding (or not adding) this gorgeous plants to your garden.

In the past, Nandinas was one of the most sought after shrubs. It grows as bamboo-like stalks with delicate foliage in vibrant green and red colors with gorgeous creamy white flowers in springtime. It’s no wonder; they are commonly called sacred bamboo or heavenly bamboo.

They also develop red berries that remain on the plant for a long time and is excellent in many craft projects. Nandina secrets toxins, which means it is a non-favorite for many animals. But what about deer? Do deer eat nandina?

Deer resistant Nandinas

Nandinas are usually found in the deer resistant list. This means deer do not eat them if they can find other options. Deer will eat almost anything when hungry, and nandinas, which are generally not on their list of favorites, may become dinner. So, you may need to protect your nandinas from deer. Repellents are an excellent choice.

Look for commercial repellents specifically made to prevent grazing on ornamental plants. You will also require two different repellent variants. You will rotate these repellents to keep deer from getting accustomed to their smell or taste.

Fertilizing also attracts deer. Newly fertilized plants of any kind can get chewed to the ground if left unattended. Therefore, be careful about using fertilizer. Research by the University of Georgia talks about using Milorganite in your fertilizer to help repel deer.

You can also protect your nandinas by using protective covers such as wire cylinders, netting, or bud caps.


All nandina species are toxic to birds and animals and are highly invasive. If you add them to your garden, they might take over other native plants. Due to their invasive nature, they are tough to control and can take over even your neighbor’s lawns.

Nandina is highly toxic. The plant decomposes to produce hydrogen cyanide and has caused the death of birds and animals. The berries are also harmful to dogs, cats, and horses. Nandina plants are non-toxic to humans.

However, realize that if you choose to add nandina to your property, it might be a long-term relationship. Every piece of root in your ground will spring into a new plant. If you wish to remove them, then do so before they produce seeds. If not, you might need to dig down to the trees to get them out.

Fortunately, you can also choose less invasive nandinas too. Varieties such as Firepower and Blush Pink Nandina are excellent choices, but they don’t have fruits or flowers. You can also consider other dwarf varieties of types with sterile berries.

Concluding thoughts

Do deer eat nandinas? No, they don’t, making them one of the best deer-resistant shrubs. However, deer can eat them to the ground as a last resort. Yet, you want to make careful decisions about adding this shrub. Nandinas can take over your lawn literally, choking out other native plants. It is also challenging to get them out once they seed. Nevertheless, there are much less aggressive species. However, it would help if you considered its evasiveness and poisonous toxins before adding it to your lawn.

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