The fact is, deer will eat almost any type of plant (including Zinnias) if they are hungry enough and they find your plants to be tasty and accessible. So, do Deer eat Impatiens?
Yes, Deer eats Impatiens plants because the flowers have a sweet flavor. This sweet-scented flavor serves as a delicacy to Deers and other animals that visit your garden, so keep Deers out of your garden.
Impatiens, which we commonly refer to as “Busy Lizzies” or “Busy Bees”, is one of those plants that deer seem to enjoy munching on when they get the opportunity.
Both the botanical name for Impatiens, “Impatiens spp.” and alternate common names include “Busy Lizzie”, “Touch Me Not”, and of course, “Busy Bunny”.
More often than not, plant names are how I learn about them. Apparently, people have been asking this question since at least 1965.
It’s quite possible that the ‘busy bunny’ reference has helped create another urban legend regarding deer-eating impatiens.
Because they are so cute. But get real… if you have had problems with your impatiens being eaten by hungry rabbits or deer you are likely in good company with many others in the same predicament.
But we still want to know our readers’ opinions of if deer really do eat impatiens. If you have experience, please share it below in the comments.
Deer love to snack on sweet flowers such as impatiens
If you plant Impatiens in your yard, you can expect them to become a popular target for hungry deer.
There are several types of alternative flowering plants you may want to give serious consideration, especially if you are looking to plant a border. There are also several ways to keep deer from eating your Impatiens plants.
Some of the most popular types of flowers that deer will not eat include:
One sure way to keep deer out is with fencing, but it has to be very high and very tight. Deer can jump over fences that are only four feet high so the fence must be at least six feet tall.
Another option is an electric fence, but some people shy away from this method because of the risk of injury both for people and for pets on the property.
Some people even try using plastic bags or aluminum pie tins on top of their plants as a “visual” deterrent, but all these methods have to be replaced frequently.
One of the best plants to use as a deer-resistant alternative for Impatiens is Nasturtiums. They have brightly colored blossoms, much like Busy Lizzies, but they are slightly less fragrant so deer tend to leave them alone. Marigolds are another popular choice because they smell bad to deer and rabbits.
If you choose something other than Busy Lizzies or one of these other types of flowering plants that deer will not eat, you will still need to keep your pets away from the garden. Pets can harm these beautiful plants just as easily as deer can.
The best defense is to keep your Impatiens in a separate area of your yard and allow only the deer free access to them.
If you surround busy lizzies with other types of flowering plants, such as marigolds or nasturtiums, it will give them something else they can snack on so they won’t be tempted to try eating your impatiens.
Impatiens are popular flowers for many reasons, but their beauty alone does not make them suitable for all gardens.
If you plant these near areas where pets may roam or where there are no other types of flowering plants, you need to know what dangers lie ahead.
What Deer Like and What They Don’t Like About Impatiens
Deer usually like varieties of plants that have small rounded leaves with a soft texture because these leaves allow for easy chewing. The leaves on an impatiens look very much like this.
However, while some gardeners report success in growing impatiens by using natural repellents such as dried blood or sprinkling blood meal around the base of their plant, others claim it does nothing but make a mess and smell awful when you water.
The best way to protect your impatiens from deer is to pick low-growing varieties with small, narrow leaves.
Little Pinkie is a new introduction that has small leaves and slightly smaller flowers than many other impatiens. It grows only 8 inches tall making it perfect for borders.
Grow Impatiens Like Little Pinkie Along Borders or Paths
Impatiens come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they have in common is their easy-care nature which makes them very popular with gardeners around the country.
They like the sun or partial shade is drought tolerant once established (check out our previous article on how to water transplants here), grow quickly (impatiens will double in size every two weeks), and bloom profusely all summer long.
You can definitely use impatiens to dress up your garden, but if you are looking for something that will work well in borders or along paths where deer traffic is heavy, consider using low growing forms with small leaves and narrow flowers like Little Pinkie instead of larger varieties with large leaves.
If you do this, there’s no need to worry about deer eating them because deer will avoid these “less tasty” varieties anyway.
If you want to try different colors of impatiens, the best thing to do is choose some that have dark green or bronze foliage which is less appetizing than variegated leaf types while still providing all the benefits mentioned above. As an added benefit, many visitors say they don’t smell as bad either.
Here are some tips on protecting your impatiens from hungry deer:
1). Deer Netting is the best way to protect your new plantings -You can cover large areas such as entire gardens with fencing mesh and save money over time by only purchasing one roll vs separate rolls for each section. We recommend 2-4 feet of fencing
2). Bells are an excellent deterrent – If you can’t use netting, you can attach bells to your plants so they jingle in the wind. Deer do not like the noise and will stay away from any area that is making noise.
3). Use a dog – Use a dog or some other type of pet to help protect your plants, just be sure it doesn’t chase deer into your yard.
4). Planting Daffodils – Planting Daffodils around the perimeter of your garden is another good deterrent, as they emit a smell that deer don’t like.
5). Grow Deer Resistant Plants – Although we don’t know if impatiens are actually on this list, we do know that many common plants such as Hosta and Ornamental Grasses are definitely deer resistant and often used for landscaping purposes.
6). Rabbits – If you have problems with rabbits eating your plants try these tips.
7). Fence – Fencing around the yard is another option.
8) Use deer repellants, but be cautious. We are not big fans of these as they are not good for your plants or you if you end up spraying them on them.
Some people reportedly have had success with using products such as “Ropel”, but please read instructions very carefully before using any product near your plants and make sure to only spray the parts that will be visible to potential animal visitors. And lastly, don’t forget about control.
If you want to grow impatiens but don’t want deer to eat them, try the following:
1). Find out what season deer prefer to snack on impatiens and schedule your planting accordingly – In some areas, it is late winter/early spring, while in others it might be late summer/early fall. For instance, when I lived in Connecticut we would see a lot of damage from deer eating flowers from early October until mid-December.
They were much less active in the cold weather after that, so they wouldn’t eat my impatiens or other flowers inside an enclosure until about February or March.
The four years I lived there I got excellent results using a large plastic “tent” over my flower beds during those months when the deer were most likely to snack on my flowers.
2). Grow impatiens in containers – When grown in pots, these plants can easily be brought indoors for the winter or safely tucked away into a garage or storage building when you see that deer are active in your yard and ready to eat your plants.
The only problem with this method is that it’s not so easy to move containers full of wet, heavy soil; not to mention the container itself. If you can manage it, well and good; if not, think about growing something else in the container instead.
3). Plant alternative flowers that attract hummingbirds instead of deer – Birds aren’t generally considered much of a threat to flower gardens since they don’t eat them, but deer see the same colors we do.
That means that you can attract hummingbirds with red or orange flowers and in turn attract deer who want to eat these lovely, tasty treats. If you find yourself in this predicament there are several things you can try:
- Grow impatiens in hanging baskets instead of in the ground. This is definitely one way to keep deer away from your impatiens because they won’t be able to nibble them off at the base like they would if they were planted directly in the soil.
However, it might not work for everyone because containers need watering frequently (i.e., daily) and many people don’t enjoy hanging their own baskets either (although it really isn’t as hard as some might think).
- Try using aversive plants to “repel” the deer from your flower beds. There are some plants that deer generally won’t eat because they don’t like their flavor or smell.
By surrounding your impatiens with these plants, you can keep the deer away from them even if they’re hanging around in your garden.
Some of these aversive plants include oregano, rue, lavender, and garlic chives. As always, it’s important to know exactly which plants will repel deer so you can avoid planting anything on this list yourself.
4). Plant impatiens within an enclosure made of chicken wire or mesh fencing – This works well if you want to protect a small area of your flower bed, but it becomes difficult if you have a larger garden.
You’ll need to either attach the mesh or chicken wire fencing to the stakes surrounding each plant or build a tall fence around the entire garden.
5). Grow impatiens in containers that can be brought indoors for protection from deer – This is definitely one way to keep deer away from your impatiens because they won’t be able to nibble them off at the base like they would if they were planted directly in the soil.
However, it might not work for everyone because containers need watering frequently (i.e., daily) and many people don’t enjoy carrying heavy pots back and forth through their house either (although it really isn’t as hard as some might think).
6). Use a deer-resistant plant in place of impatiens in your flower bed – Rather than planting a relatively inedible plant in your flower bed, why not try a more appealing one instead?
There are many plants that have the same color and texture as impatiens but deer tend to leave alone. Some examples include coleus, begonia, ornamental grasses, yarrow, hosta, astilbe, daylilies, and sedum.
In addition to being deer resistant, they also tend to be low maintenance and fairly easy to grow; which is always a plus when you’re trying to keep up with everything else going on outside.
Deer will eat impatiens if other food sources are not available, but they do have their favorites, so it’s best to plant multiple species of plants that are less tempting to the deer than others.