Do Deer Eat Impatiens? How To Protect Them

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 03/26/22 •  8 min read

Do Deer Eat Impatiens? How To Protect Them Impatiens are a lovely little flowering shrub that is fantastic in shaded areas as they provide fantastic ground cover and flashes of colour when they flower. However, if you live in the area with a large deer population can you plant impatiens successfully without having them eaten?

Impatiens are not deer resistant at all and will be attacked on a regular basis if you do not protect the plants. The New Jersey agricultural experimentation station list rates the plant as being occasionally severely damaged, however, many people that live in a deer-prone area have reported having their impatient decimated on a regular basis.

As there are extremely persistent pests there is really only one method that is 100% effective all the time, which is to exclude them from your garden entirely. The best method is to build a fence to keep out them of your garden which needs to be at least 8 ft tall. 

The height of fence may seem excessive however academic studies have shown that commonly varieties of deer are capable of jumping 6 ft high fence is comfortably if required. As such it is necessary to have an 8 foot fence to act as a deterrent. However, for many gardeners, this is an extremely expensive proposition that in some cases is completely impractical so what else can be done to discourage them from entering your garden?

Sunshine-Impatiens” by Chris Sorge is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Protecting Your Plants From Deer

Apart from erecting a fence, there are also several other measures that can be taken to dissuade the animals from entering the garden. The first method is to plant things in the outer parts of your garden that deer do not like to eat as this will discourage them from entering the garden in the first place.

As a general rule deer do not like to eat any plants that are fragrant, toxic, or thorny in nature. However, this is a general guide as deer have been known to eat things such as roses even though they do have some thorns. It is therefore advisable to double check whether particular plants you would like to grow a relatively are resistant.

In addition to selecting deer resistance plants, it is also ideal if they are relatively tall because this will prevent the deer from seeing into the garden to see other more attractive plants that they would like to eat. Things such as french lavenders which can get relatively large are a good choice.

Conversely, if you have plants such as impatiens that are known to be highly susceptible to deer attack it is a good idea to plant them close to the house in the areas where you most commonly reside. The reason for this is that your day-to-day activities will discourage the deer from hanging around that part of the garden for an extended period of time, at least during the day.

Colores del verano: alegría del hogar (Impatiens walleriana).” by Andres Bertens is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The other option you can consider if you have particular prized plants is to individually protect them using netting or wire, however, this is somewhat impractical if you have a large number plants that you wish to protect.

Aside from these methods, the other option is to use commercially available deer repellents which can be generally divided up into 2 main categories, chemical repellents, and mechanical repellents.

Chemical Repellents

Chemical deer repellents are generally more effective than mechanical ones however their effectiveness does vary depending upon the particular product that you get and the nature of the formulation.

Within this group of products, there are 3 main types; fear-inducing repellents, pain-inducing repellents, and those repellents which affect the taste or smell of the plants. Academic research which is looked at a range of different repellents has found that the most effective ones are fear-inducing repellents.

Impatiens” by Carl E Lewis is marked with CC BY 2.0.

These types of products are typically made using ingredients such as coyote urine, blood, and putrified egg. Putrified egg is effective because it emits smells that are similar to many predators which will discourage the animals from hanging around.

However, one of the problems with using this product according to academic research is that even the most effective deer repellents only last for approximately 10 to 12 weeks. After that time for the deer will begin to returned to their normal feeding habits.

As such we generally recommend that you purchase two different types of deer repellents and alternate their use every 3 months to avoid the animals becoming acclimatized to the smell.

The two products that we generally recommend are deer out and plantskydd because they’re both fear-inducing deer repellent formulations that are based on different ingredients. This means that they will smell different. To see the latest price on these products click on the links above.

Impatiens” by kinglear55 is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Mechanical Repellents

Like chemical repellents, there is a wide range of mechanical devices that are sold commercially in the marketplace. These devices can also be generally placed into 3 major categories which are motion-activated sprinkler systems, ultrasonic systems, and predator eyes which are devices that mimic the appearance of predators’ eyes at night.

Of these types of devices, the motion-activated sprinkler systems are the most effective however they do suffer for the same problem as the chemical repellents in that deer do become acclimatised to these devices relatively quickly. This means that for them to be effective you need to use some sparingly as more of a surprise tactic than anything else.

As a result of this we generally recommend that if you are going to use these devices to ensure that you regularly move their position within the garden and also periodically turn them on and off during the year to ensure that the animals do not get to use them.

Alegría guineana (Impatiens)” by Lumiago is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

We also advised that you save these particular devices for important periods of the year such as when there is a vegetable harvest coming up or plants are budding or flowering as a method of providing additional protection.

If you are considering purchasing this type of device the one that we would recommend is the Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer because it has a 40ft detection range and 120-degree view range which means that it can cover a wide area with a single device. To see the latest price on this device click on the link to visit Amazon.

The second type of device that is sold by number of manufacturers is ultrasonic devices. These devices are recommended for a wide range of pest such as deer, rodents, squirrels, and domestic animals such as cats and dogs. However, despite what the manufacturer is may say academic research indicates that these devices do not affect the behaviour of the animals in any significant way.

Many researchers that have done work with these devices, and have come to the conclusion that they  simply do not work as such we would not recommend that you purchase a device of this nature.

The third type of device predator eyes is one in which there has been very little academic research done on their performance. As a result, I have had to rely upon the feedback of users that have purchased the product.

Generally, the feedback has been relatively negative with most users indicating that these devices do not work particularly well. Some users have even provided evidence of the performance of the devices, showing night vision of deer eating their plants right next to these devices.

This evidence does suggest that even if these device does work the period in which they are effective is likely to be very short, though we do not have any specific evidence to support this. Based on this feedback we were generally not recommend that you purchase a device of this nature.

I hope found this article useful and are able to successfully grow impatiens in your garden even if you have deer in the local area. If you have any specific questions or comments please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart