QUESTION: Do deer eat herbs? I have a lot of deer in my neighborhood and they tend to eat a lot of landscaping. I’m wondering if it’s pointless to even try an herb garden or if there’s hope. Suggestions and tips? – Julie J
GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: Whether or not a deer will eat your herbs depends upon the environment around you. The good news is that in general, most deer try to avoid herbs.
The reason being is they have a sense of smell that’s fifty times stronger than humans. Things we think smell delightful are overwhelming and repulsive to deer.
However, if you live in an area where greenery is scarce, deer will overlook their food diversions to survive.
It isn’t uncommon for a gardener in one part of town to have zero issues with deer eating their herbs while a gardener on the opposite side of town struggles to keep the deer out of their herb garden.
The best you can do is plant strong scented herbs to try to deter deer in your area. It’s recommended to grow herbs such as mint, basil, thyme, oregano, lavender, catnip, sage, and rosemary if you don’t want them to be eaten by deer.
These herbs have a strong scent, even to us, so you can imagine how strong the smell must be to deer. Therefore, it’s less likely they’ll munch on these plants.
Please note that it’s most common for deer to eat herbs when the plants are in their beginning stages as they’re more tender, so you’ll want to particularly protect seedlings and newly planted small herb plants.
If you’re concerned about deer in your neighborhood making a snack out of your herb garden, try starting your herbs indoors.
Once the plants are larger, move them to their permanent growing location. You may also surround each herb with a chicken wire fence that makes it difficult for the deer to access the foliage of the plants.
Should you have a tall garden fence, you could try planting your herbs behind it as well. The key to this statement is tall as deer can jump fences that are seven or more feet tall.
In summary, will deer eat herbs? Yes, if they’re in a situation where their food choices are slim, they will eat herbs to survive.
Herbs aren’t their favorite food and if there’s other vegetation available they’ll choose it over herbs. Your greatest chance of growing herbs without issue is to choose strong scented plants as this is offensive to their senses.
Take these pointers into consideration when deciding whether to grow an herb garden in your area. Hopefully, you and your neighborhood deer can live peacefully as you try your hand at raising new plants.