If you garden, and if you share your garden with deer, chances are that you have learned a bit about what plants they love to eat, and what they often leave alone. This list is designed to help you add variety to your garden without putting the “Buffet Open” sign out for those doe-eyed darlings.
Common Deer-Resistant Plant Qualities
- Bitter taste
- Leaf texture (hairy, leathery, spiky)
- Color (deer often avoid gray/silver foliage)
- Pungent aroma (interferes with their sense of smell, which is their primary method of detecting danger)
Characteristics that Attract Deer
- Lush, tender leaves with high water content (deer satisfy one third of their water needs from plants)
- Plants high in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and salts (this generally equals plants that are frequently fertilized)
Points to Consider
- Deer will be more apt to browse in your garden in early spring and late summer/fall, when their natural food sources are not as abundant.
- New growth and flower buds are the most vulnerable to deer browsing, and can be damaged on otherwise deer-resistant plants.
- Unlike horses, cows, and sheep, deer eat by browsing instead of grazing, so they will often skip from plant to plant, nibbling here and there as opposed to munching in one area. Also, they prefer broadleaf plants, not grasses and grass-like plants.
- Plants that are deer-resistant are often rabbit-resistant as well.
Plants Rated by Their Level of Deer Resistance:
- Rarely: Deer seldom browse these plants.
- Occasionally: Deer tend to stay away, may browse plants when alternate food sources are scarce.
Deer-Resistant VegetablesBack to Top
Written by Mary Garcia.