Lilac shrubs and trees can add color, fragrance and texture to your yard, but they can also repel deer. Though deer tend to dislike lilac varietals in general, a few are especially deer-resistant.
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Rutgers University's New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station classifies the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) and the Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata) as "seldom severely damaged" by deer, the second-highest deer resistance rating. Persian lilac (Syringa x persica) is only "occasionally damaged" by deer. According to the University of Georgia, deer tend to avoid plants with strong aromas, such as lilacs.
The common lilac, a deciduous shrub, can grow up to 15 feet tall. The common lilac produces fragrant white, pink or purple clusters of blossoms in the spring. A deciduous tree, the Japanese tree lilac can grow up to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Japanese tree lilacs produce fragrant, loose white flowers in mid-summer. Persian lilacs are fast-growing, deciduous shrubs that can reach up to eight feet tall. They produce sweet-smelling, lavender clusters of flowers
Common lilacs prefer sun to partial shade and can thrive in a variety of soil types, including heavy soil. The Japanese tree lilac prefers full sun and can thrive in a variety of soil types, including clay. Persian lilac prefers sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Deer: Plants Deer Will Not Eat
- Rutgers, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station: Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance
- University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Deer and Plants They May or May Not Eat, Maybe
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Syringa vulgaris
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Syringa reticulata
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Syringa x Persica
- West Virginia University Extension Service: Resistance of Ornamentals to Deer Damage
- University of Georgia: Deer Tolerant Ornamental Plants