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Do Deer Eat Astilbe? (Explained + Benefits)

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Deer don’t regularly eat astilbe, but they can when they have no other food options. The two significant reasons deer avoid astilbes are the plant’s bitter taste and spiky leaves.

In this article, we look at the common types of astilbe and whether or not deer will eat them. You also get tips on growing and protecting your astilbe from deer.

Do deer eat pink astilbe?

Pink astilbe bloom to make the garden more calming
Pink Astilbe

Pink astilbe are similar to white astilbe, but they don’t grow as tall; they mostly reach 16 feet high.

Deer find pink astilbe flowers and leaves are difficult to chew and digest. Consequently, they seldom eat them and, in most cases, avoid gardens that have them.

Do deer eat White astilbe?

White astilbes get their name from their distinct white flowers and elongated leaves. They can grow up to 24 inches tall. 

Deer don’t like these plants; their taste and smell irritate them. However, when these plants are young, deer may bite off a few pieces and move on.

Do deer eat white Astilbe chinensis?

White astilbes Chinensis are the shortest type of astilbe and also the toughest. They grow between 12 to 15 inches high.

Like all the other astilbe, deer will not eat them unless they face starvation.

Will baby deer eat astilbe?

Unlike mature deer, fawns don’t have a specific set of flowers they like. Instead, they develop their taste through trial and error. 

Sydney White, a wildlife researcher at Illinois University, stated that it is common to find fawns eating plants that deer usually avoid.

White went on to add that after a fawn experiences pain or discomfort while eating a plant, they learn to steer clear of it.

Other types of astilbes you can grow.

  • Astilbe Yournique Carmine
  • Astilbe Deutschland
  • Astilbe Rheinland
  • Astilbe Heart and Soul
  • Astilbe Federsee

Plants you can grow alongside astilbe.

You can grow astilbe alone, but a garden looks better with various plants.

Note that you can’t grow any plant with astilbe. The plants you pick should share similar moisture and light requirements.

They include

Common nameScientific name
ImpatiensImpatiens balsamina
PrimrosePrimula polyantha
CaladiumCaladium bicolor
Bleeding heartLamprocapnos spectabilis
HelleboreHelleborus niger
Coral bellsHeuchera sanguinea
Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia hirta

Will astilbe grow back after the deer invasion?

Astilbes are perennials, and they are pretty hardy; thus, they will grow back after a deer attack.

Considering the plant’s bitter taste, fragrance, and spiky leaves, deer won’t eat a lot of it. You can help them recover by regularly watering and putting measures to protect them from the deer.

How to grow and care for astilbe

Growth Tips

Climatic zonesAstilbe can grow in arid, semi-arid, temperate, and cool zones
When to plantSpring or Autumn 
Soil preparation Astilbe excels in well-drained fertile and moist soils. Therefore, ensure the ground has adequate organic matter.
How to plantExperts recommend planting in a shade or full sun, placing them 30cm apart, and then watering generously.

Astilbe caring tips

  • Keep the soil moist during the planting and flowering period. Astilbe doesn’t like dry soils.
  • Regularly mulch to keep the root cool and moist.
  • Apply minimal general fertilizer once shoots develop 
  • After the plant has flowered, cut off the dead leaves and spent stems
  • Divide them every two or three years to prevent overcrowding and improve flowering.

Benefits of growing astilbe in your backyard

Close up shot of white Astilbe with nice blurry effect in the background.

Astilbes aren’t harmful to pets.

After consuming astilbe flowers or leaves, your dog or cat won’t get affected. Astilbe attracts pollinators, bees, and other insects; thus, bee or wasp stings are the only risks.

Health benefits

Some astilbe varieties, such as rivularis, may be used to cure headaches, inflammation, chronic bronchitis, and excessive bleeding after childbirth.

Attracts pollinators

Bees and other insects like astilbe flowers, and when such pollinators regularly visit your garden, it will thrive.

No need to replant

Since astilbes are perennials, they will grow back every year, and you won’t have to plant new ones.

They Beautify your garden.

A garden full of thriving astilbes will give your home immense aesthetic appeal.

Easy to care for

Astilbes are hardy, don’t need much attention, and aren’t easily affected by pests and diseases. The hard part will only be the planting, but once they grow you, that’s it.

How to protect your astilbe from deer

Motion detecting Flashlights

You can place motion-sensing flashlights in different parts of your garden.

They usually light up when the deer get within range and go off after a few minutes or seconds (you can set the time they should go off)


Deer have an advanced sense of hearing. It is one of their primary defenses against predators.

Therefore, a unique and sudden sound will scare them off, and since deer don’t like places that seem insecure, they may avoid your garden.

Place human hair around the plants.

Human hair releases a smell that deer dislike and keep away from.

Researchers at the Wisconsin deer research center carried out a study to determine the effectiveness of hair on deer.

They placed human hair around some plants on a farm and exposed other plants. 

After a month of observation, they noticed that the deer in the area ate more of the plants that didn’t have hair.

They also noted that deer only started eating the plants with hair around them once they had eaten all of the other plants.

You can get human hair from your local barbershop or salon.

Place a bar of soap near the plants.

Deer don’t like anything that interferes with their sense of smell. They rely on it to know when there is danger around them.

So, by placing a soap bar around your astilbe, the deer will find it unappealing and go for other foods. Use bar soaps with strong fragrances for better results.

Fence the garden

If all of the other methods don’t deter the deer, you can erect a fence all around the garden. Though costly, you won’t need to worry about deer invasions anymore.

Get a dog

Dogs are loud and intimidating. Deer will not go near an area with dogs, so you can let your dog hang out in the garden, especially in the evenings when deer come out to feed.

Regularly change your approach.

For methods like sound and light motion sensors, you need to keep changing them.

Deer are intelligent animals; they will learn that the sound or light isn’t dangerous and munch away on your plants after some time.

You can switch it up by using different sounds or different levels of brightness if you are using light sensors.

Also, place the sound and light detectors at varying locations so that deer don’t get accustomed to coming from a particular direction.

You can even combine three or more measures like a motion sound sensor, wind chimes, and a repellent spray.

Interesting facts about astilbe

  • In Greek, astilbe means “without sheen” or “without brilliance.”
  • The first species of astilbe (Japonica) originated from Japan in the late 1800s
  • Astilbes were initially grown as indoor plants.
  • George Arends from North Germany was the first to cross different astilbes to produce more colorful and more rigid varieties in 1900.
  • Astilbe flowers are a symbol of dedication and patience. No wonder many people use them at weddings.

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