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Are Freesias Deer Resistant?

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gardener notes Gardeners Notes
Plant type: bulbs
Deer resistant: yes
Our plant hardiness zone:
New Zealand: subtropical
U.S. Zone 10b

Freesia is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the family Iridaceae, commonly known as the iris family, a diverse group of plants which inclused not only irises but also several other beautiful and interesting species, such as gladiolus, crocus.

It is famous for its showy and fragrant flowers which come in a wide range of colors.

beautiful purple and yellow freesias

This was the first time we've planted a mix of freesias near our house.
The magic is not just in the views, because with these blooms suddenly a sweet, delicate fragrance fills the air. And when your garden not only looks but also smells nice - it's a doubled sensory delight!

As these flowers have tall, strong stems they're great as a cut flower.
However, despite the sturdy stems, freesias still somehow like to lean rather than stand upright. And it's not the wind, because ones in a pot growing inside are flopping over just the same. So when planting you might want to consider a support system. It's too late for us this year (nearly spring time here in New Zealand and they're fully grown and beginning to bloom) but for the next one we'll consider trying a grid like this one - 16 x 24 inch Grow Through Plant Support.
This first year we've just been using rocks and bamboo sticks to prop up our leaning flowers.

Are Freesias Safe from Deer?

So what about the deer, right? Are they a threat to beautiful freesias? The answer is no, deer do not eat freesias! They walk past them totally disinterested, THANK GOD!

Doe Sniffing Freesia

Short video to demonstrate how deer react to freesias.

But why won't deer eat freesias?

So because freesias have a distinct and strong fragrance, deer tend to dislike it. Their sensitive sense of smell might make the scent of freesias unappetizing to them because it's so much stronger than ours, and what is a subtle aroma to our nose is a ungodly stench to theirs. 

While freesias are not considered highly toxic, they do contain alkaloids that could be mildly toxic if ingested in large quantities. It's possible that deer have learned to avoid plants with these compounds as a survival instinct.

Finally, because freesias belong to the Iridaceae family, which is known to possess natural deterrents that make them less attractive to herbivores. These deterrents could include compounds that cause digestive discomfort or that deer simply find unappealing.

flowering freesia plants

Whatever the true reason, we can safely put another truly deer-proof plant on our list!

So our advice is, look into this family of plants if you have a deer problem, to find truly deer resistant options. We sure are and we'll keep you updated on our results.

As always, good to reiterate, that factors like local deer populations, food availability and environmental conditions can influence deers' feeding behavior and even the most deer proof plant can possibly somewhere sometime get eaten. But not as likely this will be the case with freesias as with hostas or zinnias.


P.S. And if you're having slug and snail issues, like us, you may be happy to know they don't fancy freesias either. All our hyacinths have been devoured by the slimy pests, but freesias survived intact.

Bonus: pictures of our freesia bulbs

freesia bulbs

Last modified 17 September 2023 at 05:43

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