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, 2017.
The information in this material is for educational purposes. The recommendations contained are based on the best available knowledge at the time of printing. Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. The Cooperative Extension system does not guarantee or warrant the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the product to the exclusion of others which also may be available. All agrochemicals/pesticides listed are registered for suggested uses in accordance with federal and Connecticut state laws and regulations as of the date of printing. If the information does not agree with current labeling, follow the label instructions. The label is the law. Warning! Agrochemicals/pesticides are dangerous. Read and follow all instructions and safety precautions on labels. Carefully handle and store agrochemicals/pesticides in originally labeled containers immediately in a safe manner and place. Contact the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for current regulations. The user of this information assumes all risks for personal injury or property damage. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gregory J. Weidemann, Director, Cooperative Extension System, The University of Connecticut, Storrs. The Connecticut Cooperative Extension System offers its programs to persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an equal opportunity employer.