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Do Deer Eat Bleeding Hearts? (Quick Answers)

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Gardening requires a lot of patience and passion. What can be more heartbreaking than a destroyed garden you grew with a lot of love and hard work?

Deers are one of the animals that can ruin your loving garden in minutes. This article will discuss if you can plant bleeding hearts as a deer-resistant plant and some helpful guides and tips.

Do deer eat bleeding hearts?

Deer do not eat bleeding hearts. It is a toxic plant for deer, dogs, cats, humans, and most animals. It contains isoquinoline alkaloids which make them sick and directly damage deers’ liver and kidneys if they eat a lot of it. However, they may eat it if there is a food shortage in the area.

Bleeding hearts originated from Asia, and people imported them to America centuries ago. After that, it has become a classic favorite flower among gardeners.

The flower has a unique appearance, and its deer-resistant property makes it appealing to many people.

As the name suggests, the name came from its heart-like red flower. There is a white drop under the red heart, which makes it look like bleeding.

The flower also has another interesting name. It is also called the lady-in-a-bath flower. The flower from the top looks like a bathtub, and the white drop looks like a lady.

Now let’s focus on the main discussion. It is a toxic plant that deers do not eat. All parts of the bleeding heart plant are toxic for deers, rabbits, birds, dogs and most animals.

However, it is not resistant to slugs, snails and some bugs and insects. They can deal significant damage to your bleeding heart plant.

You also need to be careful of this plant. It can cause allergic reactions if it comes into contact with skin and severe health risks if eaten.

How do deers know if some plant is toxic or not? Deers can understand the taste of a poisonous plant. Toxic plants taste pretty bad, and they stop eating the plant instantly.

Wild animals like deers and rabbits must have the ability to detect toxic plants to survive without being poisoned and weak. They get the ability naturally.

Why is the bleeding hearts plant resistant to deers? The natural defiance system of the plant is developed to resist wild animals from eating it. Bleeding hearts produce isoquinoline alkaloids in every part of it, which is highly toxic to most animals.

However, deers are not that smart, and every deer is different. So, it’s always possible that a deer can be dumb enough to eat a bleeding heart. The possibility is very high when there is a food shortage for them.

However, even if a hungry deer starts eating a bleeding heart, he usually cannot deal much damage to the bleeding heart.

Are bleeding hearts deer resistant?

Bleeding hearts are deer resistant. It also resists rabbits, horses and other harbors, but it can not resist insects and pests like aphids, plant lice and black bugs.

There are three varieties of bleeding hearts, red, pink and white. All types of bleeding hearts are resistant to the deers.

You can plant bleeding hearts in suburbs and areas that have deers. The plant will resist deers and can also protect other plants in your garden if planted with a proper plan.

If you plant deer-resistant plants in the outer part of your garden, you can easily protect other plants that are not deer-resistant.

If you have bleeding hearts in your garden, you should carefully handle your children and pet. Cats often eat leaves and grass. Make sure they are not munching on bleeding hearts. Keep your dog away from the bleeding hearts garden.

Bleeding hearts are less toxic for humans but can still cause liver problems if ingested in high amounts.

5 reasons why deer will not eat bleeding hearts

There are some solid reasons why deers will not eat bleeding hearts. Here are the top 5 reasons why deers will not eat bleeding hearts.

It tastes toxic:

Fortunately, deers and other herbivores know the taste of a toxic plant. Bleeding hearts also have one of those poisonous tastes they always avoid. It’s an ability they usually get from their genetics.

Their instinct keeps them away from toxic plants. If you think deeply, it’s an essential ability to live in the wild. They don’t have hospitals or someone looking after them like our pet dogs.

They know the smell:

Like taste, deers use their smell to understand if the plant is suitable for eating or not. Some deers may be able to sense that the bleeding heart is toxic by the scent.

Causes irritation in the mouth:

Bleeding hearts irritates deers’ mouths, which stops them from eating the plant. Every part of the bleeding heart can irritate human skin.

It makes them sick:

If a deer eats bleeding hearts a certain amount, the deer will become weak and sick. And after that, the deer will avoid eating the plant and even visiting your garden. They eat those toxic plants in hunger the times of drought.

Genetic factors:

There are many plants in the wild that deers need to avoid. Deers may know that information genetically. It’s kind of their instinct to be safe from toxic plants.

What animals eat bleeding hearts?

Bleeding hearts are toxic to many animals, but some enjoy eating them without issue. Mammals and birds have dangers from the plant, but many insects and pests can hurt bleeding hearts badly.

Insects and animals have different physiology, and something toxic to mammals may not be harmful to insects. Here is a list of pests that eat bleeding hearts.


Aphids are one of the most common pests of bleeding hearts. They eat the plant sap, and the toxicity does not affect them. They don’t need to mate to reproduce. They can make copies of them.

That’s why they can become problematic very soon. A few aphids may not cause any issue for the plants. But if the plant is infested heavily, that can cause the end of his life. Essential oil spray with soap is effective in repelling them.

Slugs and snails:

Slugs and snails eat bleeding hearts. They become active at night and hide under rocks and leaves during the daytime. They can be hard to control if you don’t know the ways. Snail bait can help you get rid of them.


Scales are one type of bug that can damage the bleeding hearts by eating sap like aphids. They also stay under the leaves and are hard to notice at the first stage.  Neem oil spray is an effective way to get rid of them.

How long does a bleeding heart plant last?

The plant starts growing from root in late Winter to early Spring. It blooms in late Spring to early Summer. It continues blooming throughout the Summer months.

In the late Fall to early Winter, the growing parts of the plant go bad, but the root stays dormant underground. The plant grows again from the root next spring. So it lasts from spring to winter. 

You can collect the root of the bleeding heart plant and cut it into pieces and use it to grow several plants from one plant root. It is also possible to grow bleeding hearts with seeds.

Final Thoughts

Bleeding hearts plant is deer resistant as it contains harmful toxic chemicals that taste bad and cause mouth irritation. The plant can be used to make your garden deer protective by planting them around the garden. Make sure your pets and children stay away from bleeding heart plants.

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