Home gardeners often face challenges with wildlife when it comes to maintaining their precious landscape. One of the most common culprits in many regions are deer, which can devastate gardens and consume a wide variety of plants. As you may know, philodendrons are popular houseplants that can be grown outdoors in warmer climates or brought inside during colder months. But will these plants be at risk if deer are present in your area?
Philodendrons are known for their attractive, large leaves and their ability to thrive in various environments. They also contain a poisonous substance called calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and discomfort when ingested. This toxicity might make them less appealing to deer and other animals looking for a meal. However, desperate deer could still potentially nibble on these plants when they’re hungry or facing a shortage of food.
Incorporating deer-resistant plants in your garden can be an effective strategy in discouraging deer from wreaking havoc on your landscape. Plants such as marigold, sage, and lavender are examples of plants that deer tend to avoid, so intermingling these with your philodendrons may be a practical solution. Remember, though, that no plant is completely deer-proof, as hunger can drive deer to consume plants they would ordinarily avoid.
What Are Philodendrons?
Philodendrons are a large genus of plants belonging to the Araceae family, which are native to tropical regions of the Americas. These popular houseplants come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and growth habits, making them a favorite choice among plant enthusiasts.
These plants are often characterized by their large, glossy leaves, which can exhibit various colors and patterns. Philodendrons can be classified into two main groups: climbing and non-climbing varieties. Climbing philodendrons can attach themselves to surfaces and grow vertically, while non-climbing varieties tend to have a more bushy or upright growth habit.
Philodendrons are not only aesthetically pleasing but also known for their ability to purify the air, making them an excellent choice for indoor settings. They are fairly low maintenance plants, making them perfect for beginner and experienced growers alike. However, it is important to note that philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can be toxic to humans, dogs, cats, and other animals if ingested. As a result, these plants should be kept away from pets and small children who might accidentally consume them.
Regarding the problem of deer eating philodendron plants, it is generally accepted that deer tend to avoid them due to their toxicity. Philodendrons are considered deer-resistant plants, meaning that they are not typically targeted by deer as a food source. It is essential to be aware of this information if you have philodendrons in your garden or any other space where deer might be present.
Deer’s Natural Diet
Common Food Sources
Deer have a diverse diet, consuming a variety of plants to meet their nutritional needs. Their daily food intake constitutes about 6% to 8% of their body weight, which they achieve by browsing on green foliage and other plant materials. As they move through their habitats, deer sample from a wide range of plant species, allowing them to continuously evaluate new sources of nutrients. Interestingly, about a third of the plant species they consume account for 93% of their overall diet.
Examples of common food sources include:
- Tree leaves and twigs
- Shrubs and bushes
- Fruits and nuts
- Forbs (broadleaf herbaceous plants)
Deer are selective feeders, meaning they prefer certain plants over others based on factors such as taste, nutritional content, and availability. Their dietary preferences change seasonally, as does the nutritional content of the vegetation in their habitat source.
Some plants not favored by deer include:
- Hardy perennials
- Hardy bulbs
The Morton Arboretum provides a list of plants not favored by deer for those looking to create deer-resistant gardens.
It’s important to note that deer may still consume these less favored plants if more preferred options are not available, as they adapt their diet based on available resources. This flexibility in their feeding habits ensures they meet their nutritional requirements throughout different seasons and environments.
Regarding philodendron, there is no specific information in the provided search results about deer consuming this particular plant. It’s worth emphasizing that deer show adaptable feeding habits, and individual experiences may vary.
Do Deer Eat Philodendrons?
Factors Attracting Deer
Philodendrons are popular, easy-to-grow houseplants that are known for their vibrant foliage. But do deer eat them? Generally, deer do not prefer to eat philodendrons, as these plants are poisonous and can be harmful to them. However, there are a few factors that might attract deer to your philodendrons, which we’ll explore below.
In periods of food scarcity, deer can become desperate and eat plants that they would not normally consume. If they are starving, deer may be more likely to try to eat your philodendrons. Nonetheless, according to The Morton Arboretum, plants not favored by deer are the most cost-effective, least time-consuming, and aesthetically pleasing solution in deer-prone areas.
Other Attractive Plants
Sometimes, deer eat unusual things due to nearby plants that pique their interest. For example, if you have other plants that deer find appealing, such as tulips or hostas, they may be drawn to your garden and decide to taste-test your philodendron in the process.
The proximity of your philodendron to a deer-populated area might also affect the likelihood of them eating it. If your garden or landscaping is near a wooded area, for instance, there might be a higher risk of deer venturing into your yard and sampling your plants. To minimize this risk, consider using deer-repellent methods, such as installing a fence, sprinkling repellent substances like hot pepper or hair, or using motion-activated sprinklers to deter the animals.
In summary, while deer are not naturally inclined to eat philodendrons due to their poisonous nature, desperate deer may still try to consume them under certain circumstances. Keep an eye on your outdoor philodendrons, employ preventative measures, and monitor any potential factors that could attract deer.
Preventing Deer from Eating Philodendrons
Although philodendrons are typically considered deer-resistant, it’s still a good idea to implement deer-resistant landscaping practices to further protect these plants. Incorporating plants that are unattractive to deer into your garden can help deter them from foraging in your yard.
Some examples of deer-resistant plants include:
- Andromeda (Pieris japonica) – A dense, flowering shrub with a strong aroma that deters deer
- Barberry – A thorny plant that is usually unappealing to deer
- Butterfly bush – A flowering perennial that is not commonly browsed by deer
- Lilac – A fragrant shrub that deer tend to avoid
Incorporating these plants into your landscape design can create a less enticing environment for deer, helping to protect your philodendrons and other susceptible plants.
In addition to deer-resistant landscaping efforts, employing barrier methods can further protect your philodendrons from deer. The most straightforward barrier option is to erect fencing around your garden to prevent deer from getting close to the plants. Deer can reach up to 6 feet high from the ground, so make sure your fence is high enough to deter them.
Some alternative barrier options include:
- Netting – Use netting to cover individual plants, making it difficult for deer to access the foliage
- Tree guards – Protect young trees or shrubs by enclosing their trunks with tree guards, preventing deer from chewing bark or branches
Implementing a combination of deer-resistant landscaping and barrier methods can benefit your garden by decreasing the likelihood of deer damage to your philodendrons and other plants.
Alternatives to Philodendrons
While philodendrons are generally not a preferred meal for deer due to their toxicity, there are other plants that can be confidently used in your garden as deer-resistant alternatives. Some of these plants are not only visually appealing but also hardy and easy to maintain.
Here are some deer-resistant plant options that can be considered:
- Ferns: Deer tend to avoid most types of ferns due to their unpalatable taste. Examples include maidenhair fern, ostrich fern, and japanese painted fern.
- Succulents: Typically, deer avoid succulents because of their thick, fleshy leaves that make them difficult to chew. Consider plants like agave, aloe, sedum, and hens and chicks for your garden.
- Herbs: Aromatic herbs with strong fragrances are generally unappealing to deer. Plants such as lavender, rosemary, sage, and thyme can add both beauty and practical use to your garden.
- Ornamental grasses: The fibrous texture and tall, slim leaves of many ornamental grasses can deter deer from munching on them. Try adding fountain grass, zebra grass, or blue oat grass as an interesting, deer-resistant option.
Remember, no plant is completely deer-proof, but using these alternatives can reduce the likelihood of attracting deer to your garden.
My name is Daniel Elrod, and I have been houseplant love ever since I was 17. I love how much joy they bring to any room in the home. I’ve always been amazed at how a few pots of flowing leaves can turn a drab and sterile office into an inviting place where people love to work at.