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Vines Deer Won't Eat

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4


Deer resistant vines are not deer proof, but they are less likely to become a tasty springtime meal for your local deer population. During the spring, deer come out to munch on our landscapes in order to replace calories lost during the winter months. According to the Washington State University Spokane County Extension, they don’t often forage for food during the winter months because they tend to burn more calories looking for the food than they can replace once they finally find the food. Winter weather conditions, amount of available preferred foods, geographical area and local deer populations help determine which plants deer eat. If they can’t find what they really want, they eat what they can. While they seem to eat almost anything when they do forage in the winter, they prefer tender, new plant growth once spring arrives.

According to Sandra Mason from the University of Illinois Extension, vines like wisteria, honeysuckle and trumpet creeper as deer resistant.

Wisteria are not all that picky about what type of soil they grow in or how much sun they receive. However, they do prefer well-draining, rich, moist soil. When Wisteria grows in the shade, it will continue to branch until it reaches the sunlight--even if it has to travel up to 50 feet. This woody, fast-growing vine produces clusters (that resemble clusters of grapes) of pleasantly fragrant bluish-purple flowers.It is undoubtedly one of the prettiest vines deer won't eat.


Honeysuckle prefers sun but tolerates light shade. Once established, it is drought tolerant for a short time. Mulch and water these deer-resistant vines during extended dry periods. They can grow up to 30-feet long when they are happy and healthy. Depending on variety, the highly fragrant flowers are yellow, orange or red. Their fragrance is especially strong on hot, humid days and nights. Honeysuckle attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.


Trumpet creeper is a fast growing deer-resistant vine that can grow up to 40 feet long. This woody vine grows horizontal branches once it reaches its maximum height. It produces clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of yellow-orange or red. They tolerate shade but produce more flowers when grown in full sun. Trumpet creeper prefer well-draining, rich, moist soil but adapt to a variety of soil conditions.It is one of the easiest grown vines deer won't eat.


Cheryl Moore-Gough (retired) and R.E. Gough of the Montana State University Extension list Baltic Ivy and Clematis as deer-resistant vines.

The semi-woody vines of Clematis can grow up to 10 feet in a single growing season. Needless to say, these beauties need good support. The flowers come in a wide range of colors and average 7-inches in width. The flowers are either single or double (meaning they have extra petals resulting in a fuller look). With over 400 cultivars of hybrids, you’re sure to find a few that fit into your landscaping color scheme. They thrive in full sun or light shade as long as their roots are in shade. You can grow shallow rooting groundcovers or small plants around the root zone to provide shade for Clematis’ roots. While Clematis perform well in full sun, they do need some protection from intense afternoon sunlight. This deer-resistant vine requires a lot of water while growing and fast-draining, loamy soil.


Baltic Ivy appears similar to English Ivy except the leaves are smaller and a darker shade of green with more pronounced white veins within the leaves. During the winter, the leaves take on a purple tinge. It is a year-round vine deer won't eat. It can grow up to 50-feet tall and 25-feet wide. Baltic Ivy is an aggressive vine that needs to be monitored so it doesn’t take over the landscape or find it’s way under siding. It performs well in part to full shade and tolerates drought conditions once established.


Pete Nitzsche, Pedro Perdomo, and David Drake of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station list Winter Jasmine, Climbing Hydrangea Hydrangea and Virginia Creeper as deer-resistant vines.

Winter jasmine is technically a shrub but it produces long,slender, trailing stems that take root once they hit moist ground. The stems can be trained to climb a trellis or left to cascade over a wall. This deer-resistant vine produces unscented, bright yellow flowers before its leaves appear in the spring. It is a low-maintenance addition to your landscape. It prefers full sun but is also happy in some shade. Winter jasmine tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and is drought tolerant once established.


Climbing Hydrangea is a woody vine that grows up to 50-feet tall and 6-feet wide. Roots on the stems allow it to cling to walls, trellises and fences but the stems may need to be tied to a support. It produces flowers on 8-inch long corymbs. Corymbs are flat topped clusters of flowers. The individual flowers grow all over the main stem. They produce small white and off-white flowers. It performs best in cool, moist areas where it receives some morning sun and afternoon shade. When purchasing Climbing Hydrangeas, buy a large specimen, the vines take a long time to become established. They concentrate all their energy on root development the first couple of years after being planted.It is worth the wait for these vines deer won't eat.


Virginia creeper is an aggressive, fast-growing, high-climbing deer-resistant vine that can become invasive if not monitored and controlled. Despite the aggressive nature of this deer-resistant vine, give it a shot. It often reaches over 40 feet in height (or sprawl). It readily self sows and shoots seem to grow in every inch of soil possible. Every fall, the leaves dazzle the eye when they turn a fiery red. They are not picky at all about light. They grow in shade, partial shade, partial sun and full sun. Virginia creeper prefer moist soil but are drought tolerant once established.


While no plants are absolutely deer proof, there are some plants that deer won't eat unless they can't find plants they prefer and are truly desperate for food.  Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station list Wisteria and Winter Jasmine as seldom receiving serious damage from deer. They list Trumpet Creeper, Clematis, Climbing Hydrangea and Virginia Creeper as receiving occasional severe damage from deer. Check with your local university extension office to see which deer-resistant vines perform best in your area.



Feb 10, 2012 9:37am
Will share this article with my in-laws, they have plenty of problems with deer eating all their garden veggies and sounds like simply planting some of these beautiful vines could deter them. Plus they look beautiful in the yard. Cheers!
Feb 11, 2012 5:14am
I just published one about flowers, check it out to see if it can be of any help with their landscape plan.
Mar 4, 2012 3:37pm
I have some deer that like to dine on my gardens, but most of my problem comes from the pesty rabbits. It seems when it comes to my garden their tummys are bottomless pits. Do you have any help for that?
Oct 8, 2014 8:08am
Butterfly vines, queen's crown, honeysuckle and trumpet creepers are some vines that I have planted only to have the deer eat every leaf off of them. Deer resistant, I don't think so. I have to spray almost every plant with my deer deterrent of rotten eggs and garlic. As good as any commercial deterrent on the market. But you have to respray after every rain.
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  1. Tonie Fitzgerald "Deer Resistant Plants." Washington State University: Spokane County Extension. 07/02/2012 <Web >
  2. Sandra Mason "Plants Not Favored by Deer and Rabbits." University of Illinois Extension. 27/12/1997. 07/02/2012 <Web >
  3. Cheryl Moore-Gough, R.E. Gough "Deer-Resistant Ornamental Plants for Your Garden." Montana State University Extension. 07/02/2012 <Web >
  4. Pete Nitzsche, Pedro Perdomo, and David Drake "Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance." Rutgers: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. 07/02/2012 <Web >

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