Best and Worst Spells for Druid in 5e

Published on November 5, 2022, Last modified on November 28th, 2022

Does your druid need help preparing their spell list for wandering out into the wilderness? We’ve got the guide for you!

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What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the best spells for the 5e druid. For the full overview of the class, check out our druid class guide.

To allow you to scan through the options quickly, we use the following color rating scheme:

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Did you know?

D&D Beyond can help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through hundreds of pages to reference obscure rules.

Best Spells for Druids

Druid relying on their Wisdom ability for spellcasting but, unlike wizards, they don’t have a maximum amount of spells known. Instead, druids choose prepare a number of spells from their spell list equal to Wisdom modifier + druid level.

As suits their class theme, the druid’s spell list is very nature-based. While including some solid healing and buffing spells, the druid’s spell list lacks straight damage output and doesn’t contain many debuff spells. The end result is a varied spell list that provides plenty of options, but may lag behind other spellcasters in combat.

Cantrip

  • Create Bonfire: Good damage and battlefield control.
  • Druidcraft: Unfortunately the worst option out of comparable utility cantrips.
  • Frostbite: Frostbite has a very interesting secondary effect (giving disadvantage on target’s next attack). The problem is that it requires a CON save which many monsters are very good at.
  • Guidance: Outside of combat, you can use this literally every time a party member makes an ability check. Just make sure you're within arms reach of the creature you'll be providing guidance to and make sure to announce it before the ability check is called for.
  • Magic Stone: If you have an spellcasting modifier of at least +3, this is a better option to use than fire bolt from 1st-4th levels because of the higher average damage. Once you hit 5th level, change this out for fire bolt if you can.
  • Mending: Being able to repair mundane object is situationally useful at the best of times, a waste of a cantrip at the worst.
  • Poison Spray: Bad range, a common save to avoid all damage, and a commonly resisted damage type. Pass.
  • Primal Savagery: Between levels 1-4, shillelagh will be a better option assuming you have a WIS modifier of +2 or higher. After 5th level, primal savagery will start doing an average of 11 damage, which will be higher on average than shillelagh as long as you aren't able to take multiple weapon attacks.
  • Produce Flame: Most druid’s go-to damage cantrip because of the solid damage and range.
  • Resistance: It's difficult to predict when saving throws will need to be made. So, spending concentration for a save that might not come isn't worth it, even if you're not sacrificing a spell slot.
  • Shillelagh: A bonus action, non-concentration cantrip that allows you to perform melee attacks with your spellcasting modifier and buffs your quarterstaff/club to a d8. This cantrip in itself can enable a SAD martial spellcaster build in classes that don't already have the ability to attack with their spellcasting modifier. Unfortunately, unlike the Hexblade's ability, it's not always active and only last a minute when activated. You'll need to find a way to take multiple attacks after 5th-level or you'll start to lag behind other martial and cantrip damage.
  • Thorn Whip: Lackluster damage and pulling creatures closer will be a situational bonus for Artificers. This can be very useful in circumstances where you can pull enemies into an environmental hazard.
  • Thunderclap: Good AoE damage but targets a common save and can’t be used while stealthing.

1st level

  • Absorb Elements: One of the best defensive spells at this level, especially for protecting against elemental AoE effects.
  • Animal Friendship: This will likely get you out of at least one low-level beast encounter.
  • Charm Person: One of the better options for dealing with NPCs outside of combat. Good for quick interactions, but the biggest caveat to this spell is the target knows it was charmed by you once the effect ends.
  • Create or Destroy Water: Being able to conjure 10 gallons of water isn’t particularly effective unless you are dying of thirst in a desert.
  • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it.
  • Detect Magic: Every party should roll with at least one character who has access to detect magic.
  • Detect Poison and Disease: Being able to detect poison or disease within 30ft of yourself is definitely a situational effect. Only stock when you think you'll need it.
  • Entangle: This is one of the rare spells that will be useful up to the high levels of a campaign, even without the ability to upcast it.
  • Faerie Fire: Giving your allies advantage is really good, especially if you have a rogue or paladin in the party. Invisible creatures can also be a nuisance, so having a way to deal with them as extra value is sweet.
  • Fog Cloud: Obscuring an area can be better than it sounds. While inside the fog cloud, creatures are effectively blinded so make sure you use the spell in a way that makes it advantageous.
  • Goodberry: Not particularly useful in combat but if you make goodberries at the end of each day you will have a solid pool of healing to pull from. This spell also have the con—or pro, depending on how you look at it—of completely trivializing the need to find food while navigating the wilderness as long as you an in an environment with berries, or remember to prepare ahead.
  • Healing Word: Great option even if you have a dedicated healer as it can be useful for resetting death saving throws from a distance and only requires a bonus action.
  • Ice Knife: Not great single target damage, not great AoE damage. But, it's the best druids can do at range with a 1st-level spell slot.
  • Jump: Tripling a creature's jump distance isn't usually worth a 1st level spell slot.
  • Longstrider: An extra 10 feet of movement is noticeable, especially since this spell lasts for an hour so you can use the buff before you find yourself in a battle or travel long distances in a short time.
  • Purify Food and Drink: If you're DM likes to poison you via food or drink a lot, this could be a good pickup? Otherwise, save it for when you go to a political banquet in enemy territory.
  • Snare: Way too many hoops to jump through and downsides to be worthwhile. If you manage to pull it off despite the long casting time and the terrible AoE, a trapped creature can easily find themselves in a bad situation. Having to make the escape saving throw at disadvantage will not be pretty.
  • Speak with Animals: Situationally useful to learn more about a place or to get something done.
  • Thunderwave: A fantastic, low-level way to knock opponents back if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Damage isn’t bad either but it targets CON saves.

2nd level

  • Animal Messenger: This has a lot of caveats. If you have someone in your party with sending you will never need this.
  • Barkskin: Not normally worth it for the concentration requirement, but can be useful when fighting in melee while wild shaped.
  • Beast Sense: This does not have a ton of uses, especially because you can't control what the beast does or where it goes.
  • Darkvision: Essential if you or party members don’t have natural Darkvision and want to navigate without a torch. At a 2nd-level spell slot, the cost for this effect is quite steep.
  • Dust Devil: Situationally useful if you need to lock off a certain area of the battlefield.
  • Earthbind: If you need to lock down a flying creature and don’t have a way of making it fall prone this is a good option. Useful in very narrow circumstances.
  • Enhance Ability: Decent buff before you go into combat. Also has a fair amount of utility for just about any out-of-combat situation.
  • Find Traps: Reveals the presence of traps but not their exact location. Definitely not the best use of a spell slot.
  • Flame Blade: This does slightly more damage than flaming sphere on hit, but has a lot of caveats. First, you have to be within melee range to you can be attacked and lose concentration. Second, it takes your action to attack using flame blade whereas you are able to cast spells on subsequent turns after casting flaming sphere. Yes, flame blade has a longer duration, but that rarely comes up in 5e combat. If I were playing a druid, I would take flaming sphere over flame blade most times.
  • Flaming Sphere: Not the best damage, but AoE and the ability to move the sphere as a bonus action are useful if up against a horde of weak enemies.
  • Gust of Wind: This spell is usually useless unless you find yourself in a rare situation where you can use it to push multiple enemies off of a cliff.
  • Healing Spirit: Decent value for in combat healing if you're able to maintain concentration. Outside of combat, this can equate to 6d6 of healing–as long as you have a +5 WIS modifier–in just under a minute which is amazing value for a 2nd-level spell.
  • Heat Metal: A go-to damage spell for enemies wearing metal armor (or have knives stuck in them). No save, great damage, and can cause the creature to attack with disadvantage or lose their weapon.
  • Hold Person: This can be encounter-breaking against humanoids. Scales well with levels.
  • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
  • Locate Animals or Plants: Extremely situational spell. So much so that it will likely not see use in an entire campaign.
  • Locate Object: 1,000 feet isn't a particularly wide radius but this spell will be extremely useful when it's needed. Great for city campaigns where everything is packed in tighter together.
  • Moonbeam: The spell does decent damage and has a good AoE, but it is clunky to move around because it requires an action. Unless you can trap enemies inside the moonbeam and prevent them from leaving, most of the time this spell isn't worth it. The part where shapechangers make the save with disadvantage and revert to their normal form if they fail is extremely situational.
  • Pass without Trace: If you are infiltrating an area with your party that you are unwelcome, the +10 bonus to Stealth is massive.
  • Protection from Poison: Has some use if you have a poisoned party member but don't have access to lesser restoration. The resistance to poison and advantage on saving throws against poison is a nice buff in specific circumstances, especially because it doesn't require concentration.
  • Spike Growth: Moderately good crowd control or can be used to stage an ambush because it is camouflaged.
  • Summon Beast: Great for summoning an ally that can improve your party’s action economy and fly. Not much worth upcasting past 2nd-level.
  • Warding Wind: Pretty much the only time this is useful is when you’re caught in a combat situation where you are surrounded by ranged enemies or if you need to keep out a deadly gas.

3rd level

  • Call Lightning: Thematically cool spell that you can keep reusing for free each round. The damage increases nicely at higher levels as well.
  • Conjure Animals: Conjure animals can greatly improve your action economy in a fight by giving you more allies to attack with in a turn. It is also extremely useful as a way to divert damage from party members. If your DM is friendly they may even let you summon an animal that could help you achieve your goal (like a flying creature to get something from up high), although they won’t be obligated to give you the creature you want.
  • Daylight: The light cantrip on steroids. The biggest downside of this spell is the misleading name which causes people to think that this spell actually produces daylight, which can be helpful when fighting creatures with Sunlight Sensitivity. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful.
  • Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this.
  • Erupting Earth: Mediocre damage compared to Fireball but causes difficult terrain. Situational.
  • Feign Death: Extremely niche. Could be useful if you are attempting to recreate Romeo and Juliet.
  • Flame Arrows: The 1 hour duration allows this to be cast before initiative so that you don’t waste an action on this. If you are really set on adding 1d6 to your ranged attacks, consider taking a feat that will allow you to pick up hex or hunter’s mark instead.
  • Meld into Stone: Good for long rests, though you may pop out of the stone to realize you've been surrounded by an ambush.
  • Plant Growth: Slows down pesky enemies moving around a lot or trying to escape, but not particularly good at either. Also cool for story beats to restore nature that has been devastated by war.
  • Protection from Energy: This is typically outshined by absorb elements except in the specific circumstances when you are constantly being subjected to a type of damage.
  • Sleet Storm: Messes with enemy concentration, can extinguish flames, and has the potential to knock enemies prone.
  • Speak with Plants: The flavor is spot on with this spell, it just doesn’t have that many uses.
  • Summon Fey: Easily one of the best Summon options from TCoE. Teleportation every round accompanied with advantage on at least one attack per round and decent damage. This one is actually worth upcasting in certain circumstances.
  • Tidal Wave: Mediocre damage but can impose the Prone condition. Useful in the right circumstances, like if your enemies have formed battlelines and are charging at you.
  • Water Breathing: This is almost required for enabling underwater traversal, which may or may not happen a lot in a campaign.
  • Water Walk: This is likely not to see use in an entire campaign.
  • Wind Wall: Useful against lots of archers, swarms of flying enemies, or against deadly fog. Other than that the damage is pretty bad.

4th level

  • Blight: 4th-level single-target spell that targets a common save. It barely out damages 4th-level fireball and flat-out doesn’t work on some common creature types. SKIP.
  • Charm Monster: Charm person, just for any creature. Great for avoiding fights with potentially hostile monsters.
  • Confusion: Bestow curse is a better targeted debuff and is a full spell slot lower.
  • Conjure Minor Elementals: You can summon the same CR creatures as conjure animals for a spell slot higher, but elementals usually have interesting effects that can be helpful in specific situations. Like conjure animals, your DM gets final say on the summoned creature, but if you make a reasonable request and have a reasonable DM this is a great tool to improve the action economy for your party.
  • Conjure Woodland Beings: Pretty much the same as conjure minor elementals, but fey have some distinguishing effects from elementals.
  • Control Water: A very effective spell, but only if you’re around water.
  • Dominate Beast: Not many Beasts are going to be worth your 4th level spell to dominate. If you’re fighting a CR8 T-Rex you’ll wish you had this spell.
  • Elemental Bane: If you need to remove a resistance to a certain damage type, get the Elemental Adept feat so you don’t have to waste a turn and 4th-level spell whenever you run into a creature that has a resistance to your damage type.
  • Freedom of Movement: It’s nice to give extra movement options to allies, but there are better buff spells and this one is pretty situational.
  • Giant Insect: Hard to pull off in some areas if you’re not the kind of Druid to carry around jars of bugs. If you can make a scorpion friend and reliably cast this spell during combat, it can end up doing tons of damage.
  • Grasping Vine: Only really works if you can pull the creature into something that is actually going to hurt it.
  • Guardian of Nature: Can be beneficial for STR builds, like a melee ranger or Circle of the Moon druid, because it essentially acts as a hunter's mark with the added upside of advantage on all attacks, extra movement, and darkvision. For ranged builds, getting advantage to your attacks will enable more potential for crits and the advantage on CON saving throws can help with concentration. The difficult terrain aura will help with enemies who are looking to approach. Either way you swing it, this is a decent value for a 4th-level spell slot and concentration but probably has more value for STR builds.
  • Hallucinatory Terrain: This is more of a DM-spell than a player-focused on. Particularly creative players will be able to find a use, but most of the time this is unnecessary.
  • Ice Storm: Druid’s don't have a lot of options for damaging AoE spells, this is one of the best for them.
  • Locate Creature: More thorough than locate animals or plants, and can be used to find people. It’s still pretty situational.
  • Polymorph: The best save or suck spell at this level. The hour duration makes transforming a hostile creature and running away a viable option or will give you more time to finish of its friends before it transforms back. This also allows you to shape-shift a friendly party member into a beast for combat or exploration purposes. The sheer utility this spell offers makes it an incredibly effective spell to keep in your arsenal.
  • Stone Shape: Can be used to deal damage if you get creative, or circumvent annoying parts of caves and dungeons since they are usually made of stone.
  • Stoneskin: Effectively double your or your favorite melee fighter’s hit points. Better at lower levels or when fighting enemies without magical attacks. If you'll be casting this on yourself, make sure you have a decent CON modifier and consider taking the Resilient (CON) feat if you don't have proficiency in CON saving throws or the War Caster feat for advantage on concentration checks.
  • Summon Elemental: Tankier than the fey summon because of the damage resistances but does less damage. Still a great option, just depends on what you're looking for.
  • Wall of Fire: Amazing battlefield control option to divide enemies and deal massive damage.
  • Watery Sphere: Restrain and move around up to four enemies. You can even send them over a cliff to remove them from combat, it won’t kill the creatures in the sphere because they descend at a slow rate.

5th level

  • Antilife Shell: Great option if you find yourself in trouble in melee combat. It will also hedge out your allies so keep that in mind.
  • Awaken: Love the flavor of this spell. It’s great for your traveling animal buddies, or, if you have enough time and money, you can create an army of trees that would make Treebeard proud. It is not useful in combat but this is one of those spells that can create really powerful effects if you have some downtime.
  • Commune with Nature: Can be useful for roleplay and story progression.
  • Conjure Elemental: Great spell for a powerful ally. Careful about losing concentration or you could end causing more trouble than you’re solving.
  • Contagion: The poisoned condition is a pretty strong one and this spell grants the condition on-hit for at least 3 turns. You get the potential for more turns under the poisoned condition and a lasting effect which are both quite strong. Make sure to avoid casting this on constructs, undead, fiends, or elementals.
  • Geas: Not for use in combat but has extremely potent effects if you can cast it. The max damage this can do is 5d10 a day, so it's best used on a particularly influential commoner.
  • Greater Restoration: Great spell to have that can get you or party members out of very tricky situations.
  • Insect Plague: A decent AoE damage and crowd control option.
  • Mass Cure Wounds: Range, multiple targets, and decent healing power. One of the best bang-for-your-buck spells if you have multiple party members down.
  • Planar Binding: The 1 hour casting time makes this a fairly hard spell to pull off. If you manage to pull it off, this can be an extremely powerful spell when combined with summon greater demon or something of the like.
  • Reincarnate: If one of your party members managed to get their head cut off, this is just about the only way to deal with it at this level.
  • Scrying: Useful but niche.
  • Transmute Rock: If you can catch a bunch of creatures on rock, this spell can be used to nearly incapacitate them. Situationally very useful.
  • Tree Stride: A fun spell with a multitude of uses if you can get a bit creative. Without trees nearby you won’t be striding anywhere though.
  • Wall of Stone: Great tool to manipulate the battlefield to your party’s advantage.
  • Wrath of Nature: If you find yourself in an environment that has rocks, trees, and grass, this spell provides a huge amount of action economy. A passive that makes it harder for enemies to navigate around, a free AoE at the start of your turn, a free Restrained effect at the end of your turn, and a bonus action ranged attack. In common cases, you will be able to use the Restrained effect and the ranged attack (seeing as rocks are everywhere in high fantasy settings).

6th level

  • Bones of the Earth: Really only worth a 6th-level spell slot in rooms with less than 30ft ceilings. If you’re not in a ceilinged environment, this can take up to 6 combatants out of the first temporarily.
  • Conjure Fey: There are some nasty fey creatures out there that you could summon with this spell. Unfortunately,  the risk that you'd lose control over that creature makes this spell too much of a gamble in most circumstances.
  • Druid Grove: Needs to be cast outside and takes 10 minutes to cast. These, unfortunately, limit its effectiveness but if you can pull off the spell as part of an ambush it has extremely potent effects.
  • Find the Path: Lousy effect, especially for a spell at 6th-level.
  • Heal: Strong, dependable healing with no roll needed. Also can be used at range and has some of the lesser restoration benefits built in. At 6th-level, it's expensive but worth it if you can use its effects to the fullest.
  • Heroes’ Feast: The expensive casting cost doesn’t take away from the undeniably powerful buff your whole party will receive. The benefits also last a full adventuring day and don't require concentration. Great spell to burn the night before a deadly battle.
  • Investiture of Flame: Damage immunities and resistances are fine but the passive effect has terrible range and the AoE effect is mediocre damage. The biggest issue here is that, if you are using the fire immunity it’s very likely that your enemies are immune to fire damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use the AoE feature.
  • Investiture of Ice: Damage immunities and resistances are fine but the passive effect has terrible range and is even less effective than the IoF and the AoE effect is mediocre damage. The biggest issue here is that, if you are using the ice immunity it’s very likely that your enemies are immune to ice damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use the AoE feature.
  • Investiture of Stone: The resistance to bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing are pretty useless in Tier 3 because most creatures will have magical weapons. The passive effect allows you to move through the earth but ejects you if you end your turn there so you can’t travel far distances. The action effect is terrible, it doesn’t even do damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use any features.
  • Investiture of Wind: One of the better Investitures, but it’s really only effective as a defensive buff. The flight is a great movement buff, and ranged attacks have disadvantage. The action can’t even compete with cantrip damage at this point.
  • Move Earth: Not very helpful unless you're trying to live out a Minecraft fantasy.
  • Primordial Ward: Very good spell if you are going up against a creature that can dish out heavy elemental damage.  If you don’t typically stumble across dragons or the like in your campaign world, consider holding off on this until you plan on fighting one.
  • Sunbeam: Not a bad spell for those grindy fights. Blinding opponents, repositioning the beam on each turn, disadvantage for undead make this a solid choice.
  • Transport via Plants: Certainly not as good as Teleport, but it could do in a pinch if you need to get to a specific location. In combat, you run the real risk of leaving a party member behind.
  • Wall of Thorns: This does great damage and is extremely difficult to get out of without the ability to fly. Awesome crowd control option.
  • Wind Walk: If you are going somewhere that you haven’t been before (which eliminates using transport via plants) this is the best way to do so.

7th level

  • Fire Storm: Depending on the size and position of the crowd you are fighting, this can either be insanely big damage or an easy to aim fireball. Most of the time it will be the latter.
  • Mirage Arcane: The sheer scope of this spell is insane and is truly only limited by the imagination of the caster.
  • Plane Shift: Good utility to run away from a fight that has turned south, or force a CHA save to avoid getting banished.
  • Regenerate: Not much more healing than mass cure wounds, but it does have the advantage of growing limbs.
  • Reverse Gravity: Super cool and effective. The only way a creature can avoid the effect is by succeeding on a DEX saving throw, but even then they only grab onto a fixed object to avoid falling up. Besides flying creatures, most will have a tough time escaping this.
  • Whirlwind: Huge range, good AoE, and a very potent battlefield control effect. If you can catch multiple enemies in this, you can get really good turn-over-turn damage as well as an Restrained effect.

8th level

  • Animal Shapes: The caveat that you can only affect willing creatures, along with the limitations in beast sizes and CR, makes this a very underwhelming spell.
  • Antipathy/Sympathy: Attract or repel creatures that you choose. Force melee creatures away from you or ranged creatures towards your melee allies. It also lasts for ten days, which is very long.
  • Control Weather: This is one of those spells that could have massive repercussions outside of combat. Its effect is extremely powerful though its uses may not be.
  • Earthquake: There is way too much left up to the DM’s discretion for this spell to be effective in combat. The only use I can see for this spell would be destroying a city.
  • Feeblemind: Encounter ending debuff if you hit a spellcaster with it. Usually, spellcasters at this level will have a very strong INT save or Legendary Resistance.
  • Sunburst: Big damage and nice debuff. Great AoE that is somewhat limited by forcing a CON save.
  • Tsunami: This is a huge AoE with a crazy effect. Push creatures 50ft per turn away from you (up to 6 turns) and hit creatures each turn.

9th level

  • Foresight: Insane buff and it’s not concentration.
  • Shapechange: Change into any creature while maintaining your class features and benefits from equipment. The downsides are that the creature must be something you have encountered once before and can't have a Spellcasting feature. Very similar, but definitely worse than true polymorph.
  • Storm of Vengeance: The spell’s damage is too spread out over multiple rounds to be as effective as a 9th level spell should be.
  • True Resurrection: Crazy expensive material components and requires a 9th-levels spell makes this a tough choice when regular resurrection will often be good enough. Providing a new body to the resurrected creature is the other main benefit, since you might want to resurrect some legendary hero whose body has been lost.

Sources Used in This Guide

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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