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Herbs Deer Won't Eat

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 9

Spring is the time deer come out intent on regaining the weight they lost throughout the winter, you can understand this but you don’t want them nibbling on your newly planted herb garden! There are herbs deer won’t eat. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, deer won’t eat some plants because of their fragrance and/or texture. Now, if herbs are anything, they’re highly fragrant and have a variety of textures. Contact your local extension to see what they suggest, or experiment to find out which deer-resistant herbs work best in your garden.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, herbs from the Mediterranean region are deer-resistant. This includes common garden herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme. While the University of Illinois Extension lists basil as one of the herbs deer won’t eat, The University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences says it is not. Whatever the case may be, herbs are inexpensive and easy to grow, so it wouldn’t hurt to try out a variety. Rather than planting the usual deer-resistant herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, dill and oregano), add some different herbs deer won’t eat to your herb garden this year.

 Anise

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is an annual that can grow up to 2-feet tall and almost as wide. The leaves of this deer-resistant herb are aromatic. It produces fragrant white or off-white blooms during the middle of summer. This is one of the herbs deer won’t eat that attracts butterflies, birds and bees. It performs best in soils with a pH level between 5.6 and 7.5. Grow anise in well-draining, fertile, loamy soil located in an area that receives full sun to partial shade. Keep it on a consistent watering schedule, it tends to turn brown when it gets thirsty. Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station lists anise as an herb that deer rarely damage.

Anise(85129)
Anise

Borage

Borage (Borago officinalis), is an annual deer-resistant herb that can grow up to a height of 36 inches and and a width of 24 inches. They continually produce blue blooms from late spring until fall. This is another one of the herbs deer won’t eat that produces fragrant flowers and aromatic foliage. They perform best in soils with a pH level between 6.1 and 7.5. Grow borage in a sunny location. It will tolerate some light shade. It requires well-draining, fertile soil. Rutgers lists borage as an herb deer seldom damage severely.

Borage(85130)
Borage

Comfrey

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a deer-resistant perennial herb that can grow to a height of 36 inches and about half as wide. This is one of the herbs deer won’t eat that requires moist soil. A word of caution, parts of this plant are poisonous when ingested. It produces purple flowers from late spring until the middle of summer. It performs best in soils with a pH level between 6.1 and 7.8. It can become invasive. Grow comfrey in an area that receives full sun to light shade. It thrives in well-draining soils rich with organic matter. Rutgers lists comfrey as an herb deer might occasionally severely damage .

Comfrey(85131)
Comfrey

Feverfew

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a perennial deer-resistant herb that can grow to a height of 24 inches with a similar width. The fuzzy leaves of this herb are aromatic. The plant produces white to off-white blooms from late spring until early fall. This is one of the herbs deer won’t eat that can become invasive, deadhead it to prevent self sowing. It prefers soils with a pH level between 6.1 and 7.8. Grow feverfew in full sun. It tolerates most soil types as long as they are well-draining. Rutgers lists feverfew as an herb deer seldom damage severely.

Feverfew
Feverfew

Wall Germander

Wall Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) is a perennial deer-resistant herb that can grow to a height of 12 inches and almost as wide. They produce purple blooms from mid-summer to fall. This is one of the herbs deer won’t eat that has aromatic foliage. It requires soil with a pH level between 6.6 and 8.5. Grow germander in well-draining soil that is located in a sunny to partially sunny area. Don’t let it dry out but be careful not to overwater. Rutgers lists wall germander as an herb that deer rarely damage.

Wall Germander
Wall Germander

Hyssop

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a perennial deer-resistant herb that can grow to a height of 24 inches with a similar spread. It produces fragrant white, off-white, pink, lavender or purple blooms during from late spring to fall. This is one of the herbs deer won’t eat that has evergreen, aromatic foliage. It performs best in soils with a pH level between 6.6 and 8.5. Grow it in a sunny area that has rich, well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season or the plant may not flower. Rutgers lists hyssop as an herb that deer rarely damage.

Hyssop(85134)
Hyssop

Mullein

Mullein (Verbascum pyramidatum) is a biennial deer-resistant herb. It can grow to a height of 4 feet and a width of 3 feet. It produces blooms in shades of apricot, coral, yellow or purple during the middle of summer until fall. This is another one of the herbs deer won’t eat that has evergreen foliage. It attracts birds, bees and butterflies. It grows best in soils with a pH level ranging from 6.6 to 8.5. Grow it in an area that receives full sun. It thrives in fast-draining soils that are not very fertile. This herb is a good choice for xeriscaping. Rutgers lists mullien as an herb deer seldom damage severely.

Mullein
Mullein

Creeping Winter Savory

Creeping winter savory (Satureja montana subspp. illyrica) is a perennial deer-resistant herb. It grows to a height of approximately 6 inches and branches out to about 1-foot long. The foliage is aromatic. It performs best in full sun to partial shade. It produces pinkish-purple, rose or mauve colored blooms from the middle of summer until fall. This is another one of the herbs deer won’t eat that attracts birds, butterflies and bees.It requires soils with a pH level between 6.6 and7.5. It needs well-draining soil. It is drought tolerant, and perfect for rock gardens or xeriscaping. During the winter, it needs very little water. Too much water during the winter will kill the plant. Rutgers does not specifically mention creeping winter savory on its list of deer-resistant plants, but it does list savory (in general) as seldom receiving severe damage from foraging deer.  

Creeping Winter Savory
Creeping Winter Savory



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Comments

Feb 16, 2012 12:33am
hillloyd
i am a complete newbie to this but I was always told that anise attracted deer. Is that incorrect?
Feb 16, 2012 1:53am
DebDavies
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station lists anise as an herb that deer rarely damage.

I'd take their word for it because they run controlled studies. However, studies also show that deer will eat anything if they are desperate for food because of high deer populations and especially harsh winter weather conditions.

Like I said, herbs are inexpensive so it wouldn't cost an arm and a leg to try it out in your area.
Feb 16, 2012 12:34am
hillloyd
Sorry, the article was great. i got sidetracked by the thought.
Feb 16, 2012 1:54am
DebDavies
Thanks! :-)
Feb 19, 2012 11:56pm
KCAllen
Nice list. What are some herbs that neither deer nor rabbits will eat?
Feb 27, 2012 6:31am
DebDavies
I have an article on herbs rabbits won't eat.
Feb 26, 2012 4:35pm
miravu
I'm amazed by how well you write on nature and gardening Deb. I learn something completely new every time I read one of your articles. Thanks!
Feb 27, 2012 6:31am
DebDavies
Thank you!
Mar 26, 2012 8:25pm
Etcetera
Wow I can't believe people have to worry about deer in their gardens! My problem is the possums and cockatoos.
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Bibliography

  1. "Deer Resistant Plants." University of Minnesota Extension. 14/2/2012 <Web >
  2. Tonie Fitzgerald "Deer Resistant Plants." Washington State University Spokane County Extension. 14/02/2012 <Web >
  3. "Plants not Favored by Deer." University of Illinois Extension. 14/02/2012 <Web >
  4. Pete Nitzsche, Pedro Perdomo, and David Drake "Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance." Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. 14/02/2012 <Web >
  5. Rhonda Fleming Hayes "Yarn & Garden News." University of Minnesota Extension. 02/06/2008. 14/02/2012 <Web >
  6. Jeff Schalau "Deer and Rabbit Resistant Plants." University of Arizona College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. 13/02/2012 <Web >

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