Deer Proof Gardening: What Vegetables Are Deer Resistant

edible deer
edible deer
(Image credit: John Callery)

In combat and sports, the quote “the best defense is a good offense” is said a lot. This quote can apply to certain aspects of gardening too. In deer proof gardening, for instance, this can be quite literal since plants that smell offensive to deer can deter them from their favorite edibles. 

Planting a garden with edible plants deer don’t eat is also a defense. Continue reading for tips on deer proofing the garden and a list of fruits and vegetables deer won’t eat.

Deer Resistant Edibles

The sad fact is that there are actually no completely deer proof plants. When herd populations are large and food and water are scarce, deer will graze on whatever they can. Deer get about a third of the water they need from eating plants, so in times of drought they may eat unusual plants just to avoid dehydration. 

The silver lining is that usually a desperate deer will find wild plants or ornamentals before raiding your vegetable garden. However, if your garden contains fruits and vegetables favored by deer, they just may go the extra mile. 

Knowing which plants are irresistible to deer can help you properly use companion plants to deter deer from their favorites. Below is a list of plants that deer love to eat.

Edible Plants Deer Love

Are There Fruits and Vegetables Deer Won’t Eat?

So what vegetables are deer resistant? As a general rule, deer don’t like plants with strong pungent scents. Planting these plants around the garden perimeter or around their favorite plants can sometimes be enough to make deer seek food elsewhere. 

Deer also don't tend to like plants with thick, hairy, or prickly leaves or stems. Deer can be a little lazy about digging up root vegetables, but this doesn’t mean they won’t eat their aerial foliage. For example, they are very fond of carrot tops but rarely eat the carrots. 

Below are lists of edible plants that deer don’t eat (usually) and edible plants that deer sometimes eat, though they are not preferred.

Edible Plants Deer Don’t Eat

Edible Plants Deer Don’t Like But May Eat

Darcy Larum