Deer Tolerant Herbs: Maybe Not
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Linda Samson
Posted on: September 30, 2006

I finally got a yard and I planted herbs for the first time this year. And everything was coming up nicely. Last night my basil, patchouli, mexican marigold and parsley were eaten up. Some of the plants if not eaten were pulled out and dropped. Needless to say my mood is sour. I think it is the young deer eating the herbs. Therefore I don’t believe there are any deer tolerant herbs. You may want to inform all growers that it is best to fence and cage all the plants if they don’t want any surprises in the future.

You could be right. In certain situations deer may go after just about everything. With the dry conditions we had this summer I wonder if hunger forced deer to forage plants they would not normally eat. That some of the plants were pulled out and not eaten may indicate that deer were sampling to find something edible. Larger, more established plants may have survived the attack and grown back (hence the "tolerant" qualifier in the Richters InfoSheet title) but if plants are too small they won’t survive grazing or pulling no matter what.

What is suitable to grow in deer-populated regions is very much an open question. I don’t think there has been any systematic research to help us. For the most part we rely on anecdotal evidence for our list of deer-tolerant herbs (http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=InfoSheets/d9000.html). Thank you for your feedback; we have updated our list accordingly.

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