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Do deer eat salvias? Putting deer-resistant plants to the test.

» Deer stories » Deer resistant plants » Do deer eat salvias? Putting deer-resistant plants to the test.

The other day a bright red spot caught my eye in the garden center. So I came back with a pack of salvias.

Salvia splendens 'Saucy Red', also known as 'Lighthouse Red', is a tender herbaceous perennial plant native to Brazil, grown for its lush scarlet-red flower spikes.


Of course, if you live with deer around and let them roam close to your garden now and again, you want to know how keen they are on that new type of plant you've decided to grow. Sadly, in most cases deer find the plant appealing enough to eat. But what if, maybe, one day, I stumble upon a flower they find disgusting?
So salvias, some say are deer resistant, but are they really? One way to find out - run a test with our animals.

Watch what our deer do when they encounter salvia

Do deer like to eat salvia sage plant? At first, deer didn't seem too interested, some walked away, and there was hope scarlet red salvia was safe. But then comes Cricket and takes its head off: "Don't mind if I do, thank you very much, nom nom!". Other deer seemed readly to follow her example. Disappointing.

Previously, we've reported on deer eating our cyclamen. This story had a continuation of them breaking even further into the area and taking some plants down to their root base. We've preserved the bulbs and they seem to be showing new growth.


Salvias should be able to withstand some pruning, we'll see what happens to these ones after the attack.

salvia before and after deer

It is of course, quite frustrating to see your carefully planted flowers chomped down. Deer and beautiful gardens don't mix. A truly deer resistant plant is one they can't get to.

...But wait, there's more! Turns out, not all salvias are created eqial.

Actually, there is this other kind of salvia, known as Russian sage or Perovskia. Google Lens also identifies ours as 'purple toadflax'. Here it is:

perovskia russian sage deer resistant

It seems our variety (above) is better known as Perovskia 'Blue Jean Baby'.

So this salvia plant deer indeed won't touch. We have loads of it self-seeding and growing everywhere, and no matter how hard we tried to offer it to our deer they are utterly disgusted by this abomination.

It's said to be aromatic - maybe to deer and bees, because it's nothing like jasmine or mint level aromatic. The stems are woody. They have a bit of that lavenderish feel to them (deer hate lavender). 

Perovskia is hardly our favorite plant, but it's got its perks: this salvia attracts heaps of bees and bumble bees into our garden, similarly to Borage, it's always humming with pollinators. It's an easy to grow plant, in fact, invasive, it just pops up in nearly every new pot, even growing through cracks in paved roads. But thankfully, easy to pull out of the ground too.

⚘ Do you like salvias? Are you growing any? Share your experience in the comments below.


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