Deer Resistant Herb Plants
The Growers Exchange can help you plant an herb garden that will deter damage caused by deer. Let's face it ~ deer are a nuisance in the garden. Minimize their damage by planting deer resistant herbs. You will be surprised at how many herbs are considered 'deer resistant'! You will have no trouble keeping deer out of this garden!
Please Note: We sell plants, NOT seeds. Our plants are big, healthy, well rooted and ready to plant - our standard pot is 3.5 inches. We do not ship our plants until they are ROOT READY. They will have good top growth unless they are coming in or out of dormancy. We grow all of our plants to the point that they are ready to go into the ground or container.
Herb Plants That Resist Deer
There was a time during U.S. history when a white-tailed deer in the wild was an unusual sight. Today, however, the species is considered a success story of modern wildlife management techniques; and thanks to state wildlife agencies and non-profit organizations, deer populations have made an enormous come-back. In fact, efforts are considered to have been almost too successful in some areas. To understand why, you need only look out across some eastern forests to observe what is known as a “browse-line,” the height below which every leaf, twig and blade of grass has been stripped clean by hungry deer. If you share your property with a healthy deer herd, they no doubt have already set their sights on your garden. Unless you don’t mind planting a garden to feed them, you consequently must either devise ways to keep them out or risk them devouring all your tasty plants--leaves, stems and all.
Installing deer-proof fencing is one option to keep your garden safe from plundering herbivores. However, fencing is not the simplest and definitely not the least expensive choice. Because an adult deer can jump over seven vertical feet, an effective fence should be at least eight feet in height. When fences are shorter than this, deer can become snared in the wires by a back leg and suspended helplessly. If you have ever heard the pitiful bleats of a fawn separated from its mother on the opposite side of a fence then you can understand the necessity of installing a fence of sufficient height. For most people, the construction of a fence of this size is not a practical option.
Plants as a Living Fence, to Ward Off Deer
A simpler, less costly and more humane strategy employed by many gardeners is to install a sort of “virtual” fence made from plants rather than stainless steel. This concept does not imply an impenetrable hedge made of dense vines; a living fence instead makes use of the fact that while deer and humans do share some tastes in food, they also have some definite differences in opinion. The most salient difference is that deer in general do not like anything with a strong smell; and the good news is that this distaste includes many odors that humans consider pleasant. Thus, a plant-based deer-repelling fence can be made from a variety of desirable herbs that you can also use in your kitchen.
What to Plant: Herbs Deer Hate
It may seem as though deer have an insatiable appetite for anything green. It is true that most animals will put aside their personal preferences and eat almost anything when truly hungry. However, under normal conditions the list of aromatic herbs deer don’t find palatable is actually quite long. Luckily, these species also have abundant uses in the home and are good choices in any herb garden with or without a deer problem.
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium): This gorgeous ornamental is often planted for aesthetic value alone, but can be made into a tea and used to treat intestinal worms.
- Onion (Allium sp.): Leeks, onions, chives and garlic are all closely related. Sulfur compounds are responsible for their smell, but their quercetin content is what makes them great immune system boosters.
- Mint (Mentha sp.): Mints come in different varieties and are used in many recipes, from meats to mojitos. Besides being largely unpalatable to deer, they also tend to ward off insects and mice.
- Lavender (Lavandula sp.): Lavender is everyone’s favorite purple flower because of its enchanting scent. It is responsible for the flavor that gives the spice combination Herbes de Provence its unique twist.
- Rosemary (Rosmarius sp.): The best herbal accompaniment to lamb, rosemary also has healing properties when infused into oil and applied to the skin.
For more herbs and other types of herbivore-resistant plants to consider, consult the plants listed in this category. You can also refer to this list by Rutgers’s University that ranks them by palatability.
What Might Attract Deer
Herbs that deer especially enjoy include basil (Ocimum basilicum), parsley (Petroselinum crispum), cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), and sea holly (Eryngium sp.); setting them out in the open is like sending a formal invitation to your yard. Try to avoid planting these or other deer-attracting plants such as hostas (Hosta sp.) and fruit trees (Prunus sp.) around the perimeter of your garden. If your own culinary tastes require some of the fresh herbs also enjoyed by deer, consider potting some in a sunny window sill of your kitchen. You can also try interspersing your desired vegetables and flowers with some of the deer-resistant herbs mentioned above.
White-tailed deer are wonderful to see in the wild and are an important component of many ecosystems. While it may take some planning, your attempts to live in harmony with these hungry forest neighbors can succeed if you choose your garden herbs with care.