Unless you build a tall fence, the best way to minimize deer damage in a vegetable garden is to grow plants deer don’t like to eat. This year, try planting from our list of deer-resistant fruit, herb, and vegetable plants below.
When wild food sources are low, deer will munch on most anything. However, some garden fare is less attractive to these browsers than others. Deer usually avoid root vegetables (which they have to dig up), and prickly vegetables such as cucumbers and squashes with hairy leaves. Sharply-odoured plants like onions, garlic and fennel are not palatable to deer. Similarly, strongly-scented marigolds and herbs like mint, sage, or dill can direct deer away from favoured edibles. Certain plants, such as rhubarb, are toxic to deer.
The following is a general guide to deer resistant garden plants. Hungry deer are unpredictable and in times of wild food scarcity or high deer density may sample even the most “deer resistant” vegetables, herbs, and fruit!
Deer Resistant Garden Plants
Except in areas of high deer pressure, deer usually bypass these garden vegetables and herbs:
Asparagus Cucumbers Eggplant Fennel Garlic Globe Artichokes Ground Cherries Horseradish Leeks Peppers Rhubarb Onions Tomatillos Turnips
Borage Chamomile Chives Comfrey Dill Garlic Chives Hyssop Lavender Lemon Balm Marjoram Mint Mullein Oregano Rosemary Sage Savoury Tarragon Thyme
These plants are safe in areas of low deer pressure, however, deer may turn to this group of edibles when favourites are not available. Take care to protect the young shoots, which are always tender and delicious to browsing deer!
Arugula Beets (especially beet tops) Bok Choy Broccoli Brussels Sprouts Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Chard Corn Edible Figs Kale Melons Mizuna Mustard Greens Okra Parsnips Potatoes (leaves and flowers) Rutabagas
Summer Squash Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) Tomatoes Winter Squash
Basil Cilantro Parsley
Deer love to munch on peas and beans. The also enjoy tree fruit and most berries. These plants are strong attractors for deer:
Apples Beans Berries (most kinds) Grapes Kiwi Fruit Lettuce & Leafy Greens Pears Peas Plums Strawberries
More about gardening: Deer Resistant Plants That Attract Pollinators 10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens