If you want to minimize deer damage in an open garden, it’s best to start with plants that deer don’t like. Deer will “browse” on most anything when wild food sources are low. Some garden edibles, however, are less attractive to these voracious eaters than other plants.
Certain plants, such as rhubarb, are toxic to deer. Deer usually also avoid root vegetables (which require digging) and prickly vegetables such as cucumbers and squashes with hairy leaves. Cultivars with strong odors such as onions, garlic and fennel are not palatable to deer.
Please regard the following list of deer-resistant garden plants as a general guide. Hungry deer are unpredictable and at times may eat even the most “deer-resistant” fare. If planting resistant vegetables does not deter deer from your garden, consider more serious deer defenses such as barriers and fencing or visit our fact sheet Deer Damage and Control for additional options.
Plants rarely damaged
Plants Occasionally Damaged
These plants are moderately safe, however, deer may turn to this group of veggies and herbs when favorites are not available. Take care to protect the young shoots, which are always tender and delicious!
Potatoes (may eat toxic leaves)
Berries (most kinds)
Lettuce & Leafy Greens (red lettuces less palatable)
Revised by the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, 2016.
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