Do Deer Eat Ferns? Incl. Deer Resistant Plants (Checklist)

do deer eat ferns

Deer are beautiful creatures that often roam through yards and parks. As lovely as they are, deer can be a nuisance when they start eating everything in sight, including plants that you may have worked hard to grow. So, do deer eat ferns? Yes – and no. 

While deer will munch on some fern varieties, there are plenty of deer-resistant plants that you can plant in your yard to keep them at bay. Curious about what those are? Please keep reading for our comprehensive checklist!

Do Deer Eat Ferns Plants? – (Do Deer like Ferns?

Does Deer Eat Ferns? The deer can’t resist eating anything that’s in the garden. Even if it means risking their lives by trying out some ferns or ornamental grasses, they’ll do whatever is necessary for hunger! 

So, if you’re thinking about planting ferns in your garden, you should know there’s a good chance deer will eat them. 

What Plants Do Deer Not Eat?

What Plants Do Deer Hate the Most? Deer don’t generally eat poisonous plants, which is why you’ll often see them staying away from daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies.

Deers tend to avoid other plants are skunk cabbage, poison ivy, and oak trees. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that deer will never eat these plants – only that they’re less likely to.

If a deer is starving, it may take the risk and nibble on a poisonous plant.

does deer eat ferns

Plants That Deer Won’t Eat (Check-List)

You’ve just moved into a new house, and you’re excited to start your garden, but then you realize that deer love to eat tomato plants!

It’s frustrating when you put all that time and effort into growing plants, only to have them bothered by deer. It isn’t enjoyable and can also be expensive to keep replacing plants.

Check out our list of Plants That Deer Won’t Eat and start planting today! With this helpful guide, you’ll be able to keep your garden full of beautiful plants without worrying about deer damage.

Here’s a comprehensive list of plants that deer are less likely to eat: 

  • Ageratum
  • Artemisia
  • Astilbe
  • Japanese painted fern
  • Balloon Flower
  • Begonia
  • Bellflower
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Brunnera
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Candytuft

What Fern Is Deer Resistant? (Will Deer Eat Ferns?)

Ostrich fern ( Matteuccia struthiopteris ) is one of the few deer-proof plants. Deer generally will not eat ferns, but there are always exceptions.

Ostrich fern is a perennial plant that grows from a creeping rhizome. The fronds are large, up to 5 feet (1.5 m) long, and have deeply cut leaflets. 

It is best planted in shady areas where it will form a thick ground cover.

Do Deer Eat Kimberly Ferns?

Kimberly ferns (Nephrolepis) are a type of sword fern native to tropical regions. They are often used as houseplants because they are easy to care for and tolerate low light conditions. 

Kimberly ferns have long, slender leaves that can grow up to 3 feet (1 m) long. Deer usually don’t eat ferns, but there is a chance they may nibble on Kimberly ferns if they are starving.

If you’re worried about deer damaging your Kimberly fern, you can try spraying the plant with a deer repellent. You can also try planting it in an enclosed area, such as a screened-in porch.

Do Deer Eat Boston Ferns?

Will Deer Eat Boston Ferns? Yes, deer will eat Boston ferns. However, the plants are considered deer resistant, so the deer may not consume as many of them as they would other favorite foods. 

Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) are a type of sword fern native to tropical regions. They are often used as houseplants because they are easy to care for and tolerate low light conditions. 

Do Deer Eat Maidenhair Fern?

Deer resistant! The Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) is a common deer-resistant fern. The fern grows well in rich, moist soils and can tolerate full sun to partial shade loving.

The Maidenhair Fern makes a beautiful addition to any landscape and is perfect for naturalizing in woodland areas. Deer will generally not eat this plant, but some browsing may occur on the fronds if the fern grows in a place where deer are plentiful.

Do Deer Eat Foxtail Ferns?

Yes, deer will eat foxtail ferns. They’re a favored food for deer. However, some plants are deer resistant, and foxtail ferns are one of them. So if you’re looking to landscape your garden with plants that deer don’t like to eat, foxtail ferns should be at the top of your list.

Do Deer Eat Perennial Ferns?

The deer were hungry, so they decided to taste this new garden a little. They started with the ornamental grasses and Perennial ferns that are usually very safe from their chewing appetites, but these drought-tolerant plants didn’t seem too bad at first glance!

What Animals Eat Ferns? 

What Eats Ferns? Many animals eat ferns. Deer, rabbits, small rodents, and insects such as crickets, beetles, and grasshoppers are some of the most common.

Ferns are a vital part of the food chain and provide essential nutrients for many animals. They are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. 

Ferns also play an essential role in keeping the environment healthy by helping to control soil erosion and providing shelter and habitat for other plants and animals.

Do Deer Like Eating Ferns: Commonly Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Ferns Repel Deer?

Most ferns are deer safe, so deer don’t like eating them. However, there are always exceptions, and some deer may nibble on ferns if they are starving. If you’re worried about deer damaging your ferns, you can try spraying the plants with a deer repellent or scare deer. 

Do Deer Eat Marshmallow Plant?

No, deer do not eat marshmallow plants. Marshmallow plants (Althaea Officinalis) are perennials native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are often used as ornamental plants because of their beautiful flowers. Marshmallow plants can grow up to 6 feet (2 m) tall and have a spread of 3 feet (1 m).

Do Deer Eat Hostas?

Yes, deer will eat hostas. They’re one of the most common plants that deer like to eat. However, some plants are deer resistant, and hostas are one of them. 

Do Deer Eat Any Ferns? (Do Deer Eat Fern?)

No, deer do not eat any ferns. Ferns are not a part of the deer’s natural diet, and they generally don’t find them palatable. However, there are always exceptions, and some deer may nibble on ferns if they are starving.

Why Don’t Deer Eat Ferns?

It’s not that deer don’t eat ferns; it’s just that they generally avoid eating them. The main reason is that most ferns contain toxins that can make deer sick. Additionally, the fronds of ferns are usually floppy and tend to get in the way, making it difficult for deer to eat them without getting food stuck in their fur.

Is Lavender Deer Resistant?

Lavender is a herb that keeps the deer away and protects you from mosquitoes and flies. The plant is deer resistant and can grow up to 3 feet (1 m) tall. Lavender prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Do Deer Eat Marigolds?

Yes, deer eat marigolds! All varieties of marigolds are a turnoff for deer. This is because the essential oil in marigolds contains thujone, a compound that’s offensive to deer and other animals. So if you’re looking to keep deer away from your garden plants, consider planting marigolds near them as a natural deterrent.

Do Deer Eat Zinnias?

Yes, deer will eat zinnias. However, zinnias are deer-resistant plants, so they will not be a preferred food choice for deer. Deer usually prefer to eat plants that are high in sugar or starch, like tulips and daffodils.

Do Deer Eat Asparagus Fern?

Deer avoid eating Asparagus leaves and shoots of mature asparagus plants because they contain high levels of bitter-tasting substances. However, the deer will eat the young tips of the plant when they are just starting to grow.


So, do deer eat ferns? The next time you’re out in nature, watch deer and see if they snack on any ferns. If you want to avoid having your garden become a buffet for deer, consider planting some of the plants that we listed that deer tend to avoid. With a little bit of planning, you can create a beautiful landscape that is also safe from hungry deer. Have you succeeded in keeping deer away from your garden using one of these plants? Let us know in the comments!

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