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May 27, 2020 3 min read

Are you thinking about the question – do deer eat winter berry? In this article, we will share insights about the unusual relationship between deer and winter berry.

The Winter berry hollies is a native shrub to swampy areas, known for its abundance and color. Some use it as a property border while others use them to screen views. However, Winter berry hollies are excellent sources of food for some wildlife, although it can be poisonous for people and most pets. There’s one more question you might ask – do deer eat winterberry? This question is very ideal, especially when concerned about how poisonous it can be to people. Therefore, you might consider planting the winter berry holly as a way of solving your deer problem.


Deer can eat anything, including winter berry, if they are hungry enough. Still, you can grow a deer resistant landscape with hollies such as the American holly (Ilex opaca), Lydia Morris, and John T. Morris. Winter berry, on the other hand, is among the less effective hollies. The Rutgers University rates the Winter berry alongside English holly, Ink berry and Chinese holly as seldom severely damaged (eaten). This means deer may develop a regional preference when there is nothing else or otherwise become familiar with it. Other less effective hollies but classified as “sometimes severely damaged” include Pernyl holly, Japanese holly and Blue holly.

How to cultivate a deer-resistant landscape

It is often recommended to do more than cultivating a few plants in a bid to get deer out of your property or farm. A comprehensive deer management strategy going well beyond plants to netting and repellents is more idea. For your landscaping, you should consider providing palatable deer browse at the outer edge of your property. Next, you cultivate deer-resistant shrubs, before adding the vulnerable garden sections. This is the better way to use hollies to get rid of deer from your home.

Besides hollies, deer generally dislike pungent or aromatic plants, especially those with a bitter taste or milky sap. They also stay away from plants with woolly, fuzzy, prickly or sharp spines and thorns. Bear in mind that all of these would only work if you are using a robust deer management strategy.

How to use winter berry holly or other hollies?

When planting hollies of any kind, make sure you recognize at as young shoots they can be vulnerable to deer browse and other animals. Also, strive to plant them in full sun to get the best production, although they can tolerate shade. Also note that hollies are usually either male or female, so you have to plant the two species for berry production.

They also need to bloom together to get a lot of fruit on the female. Therefore, consider selecting paired male and female cultivars to make things easier. You don’t need to plant an equal number of females and males. You can use one male to four females, planted very close to each other, to enable effective cross-pollination.

So the answer to the question – do deer eat winter berry – is affirmative. Deer may eat winter berry when they can’t find anything else. American “Morris” hollies are more effective than winter berry. In general, use a comprehensive deer-proofing strategy with a mix of deer-resistant cultivation, repellents, and other methods to make them leave your plants alone.