Do Deer Eat Coleus? Yes, Here’s When And Why

Deer are known to be voracious eaters and can cause significant damage to gardens and crops. Gardeners who have invested time and effort into their gardens are often concerned about how to protect their plants from deer. One plant that gardeners may be curious about is coleus. So, do deer eat coleus?

Yes, deer will eat coleus, but it is not their first choice of food and they are not likely to seek it out specifically. Deer will typically only eat coleus if there is nothing else available to them.

This is good news for gardeners who want to grow coleus, but it is still important to take precautions to protect the plant from deer.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why deer may eat coleus and how to protect the plant from deer damage. We will also discuss the toxicity of coleus and whether it is safe for deer to eat.

What Is Coleus?

is coleus deer resistant
Coleus isn’t a deer’s first choice to eat, but they’ll eat it if it’s the only thing available.

Coleus is a plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is a tropical perennial plant that is native to Southeast Asia and is commonly grown as an annual in other parts of the world.

The plant is known for its colorful foliage, which comes in a variety of shades of green, red, pink, purple, and yellow. The leaves of the coleus plant are typically large and have a unique shape that varies depending on the species.

The coleus plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and skin conditions. Today, it is primarily grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive foliage. The plant is easy to grow and care for, making it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers alike.

There are many different species of coleus, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most popular species include Coleus blumei, Coleus scutellarioides, and Coleus forskohlii. 

Each species has its own distinct appearance and growing requirements, so it is important to choose the right one for your garden or landscaping project, and take steps to prevent it from deer damage.

Is Coleus Deer Resistant?

how to keep deer away from plants

Coleus is a popular plant for gardeners due to its colorful foliage and ease of care. However, many gardeners wonder if deer will eat their coleus plants. While coleus is not a preferred food for deer, they may still eat it if they are hungry enough or if there are no other food sources available.

Why Deer Eat Coleus

Deer are known to eat a wide variety of plants, including flowers, fruits, and vegetables. While coleus is not their first choice, deer may still eat it if they are hungry enough or if there are no other plants they can munch on.

Deer can do some serious damage to a large amount of coleus plants single sitting if they’re hungry enough!

This was confirmed in a 1999 study on deer plant eating habits by Cornell University.

Additionally, some deer may develop a taste for coleus if they are repeatedly exposed to it.

How to Protect Your Coleus from Deer

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re protecting coleus from deer: their habits, your scent, repellent options, and when you plant it.

Deer will eat nearly anything if they’re hungry enough, so your main goal is making your garden as least inviting to deer as possible.

Check out our guide on how to keep deer from eating plants where we cover 25 quick and easy tips for keeping hungry deer out of your garden.

Even if deer pass on eating your coleus, they may still trample and damage the plants while browsing nearby foliage, so you’ll want to take precautions to protect their coleus plants from deer, such as using physical barriers or repellents.

Will Coleus Grow Back After Deer Eat Them?

do deer eat coleus plants

Deer are known to eat many types of garden plants, including coleus. If deer have eaten your coleus plants, you may be wondering if they will grow back. Yes, coleus plants can grow back after deer eat them, but it depends on the severity of the damage.

If the deer have only eaten a few leaves or stems, the coleus plant will likely be able to recover on its own. However, if the deer have eaten the entire plant or severely damaged it, it may not be able to grow back. In this case, you may need to replant the coleus or wait for it to reseed itself.

It is important to note that even if the coleus plant does grow back, it may not look the same as it did before the deer ate it. The new growth may be smaller or have a different shape or color. Additionally, if the deer continue to eat the coleus, it may not be able to grow back again.

To prevent deer from eating your coleus plants, you can try using deer repellents, fencing, or planting deer-resistant plants in your garden. It is also important to note that some gardeners report that deer are less likely to eat coleus plants that are grown in containers rather than in the ground.

Is Coleus Good For Deer?

No, coleus is not good for deer. While deer may tolerate it in moderation, coleus leaves have low levels of toxicity that can cause stress on their digestive system.

Do Deer Eat Coleus? Wrapping Things Up

So, do deer eat coleus?

The answer is yes, which means coleus is not deer resistant.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep them away like using fences, motion-activated devices, or reducing the enticing scent that your coleus give off to ward off deer from eating them.

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