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Jjlifland asked the About Gardening Forum about deer and herbs: "Iím growing thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, lemon verbena, dill and sweet basil, are any or all of these at risk from deer?"

Well, the rosemary, lemon verbena and thymes should be safe. And although basil and dill are strongly scented, I have heard from gardeners whoíve had their basil nibbled, before the deer decided they didnít want it after all. The only certainty with deer is that nothing is certain. Although there are plenty of deer resistant plant lists out there.

Whatís been your experience with culinary herbs? Do the deer eat them or can you grow them without a fence?

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images. Used with Permission.


July 24, 2008 at 9:29 am
(1) Theresa says:

When I lived in Denver, I used to wake up to mule deer peering in our windows on a regular basis, my plants in their mouths! The deer there ate EVERYTHING I planted until I tried herbs! Those mule deer even ate a young mugo pine that I planted – pulled it right up out of the ground! Almost all the herbs I planted were left alone – including the basil, sage, rosemary, chamomile, etc. I had great luck with other plants such as santolina (lavender cotton), some succulents such as ice plants and sedums, poppies, and a few others. This was on a very dry, sunny south slope along the side of the house (quite narrow & rocky).

July 24, 2008 at 11:06 am
(2) gardening says:

That’s very good to hear. Come to think of it, even my ground hogs haven’t touched the herbs. I guess I’ll have to start incorporating more of them into the beds.

July 25, 2008 at 6:17 am
(3) Sharon says:

We incorporate herbs into all of our beds, including the raised vegetable beds. They not only encourage pollinators but they discourage the deer. We have more than our share of white-tail but they seem to not like the herbs, stay away from onions and garlic and don’t appear to like to walk across a heavily mulched (chunky wood chips) area. Now rabbits are a different story!

July 26, 2008 at 2:38 pm
(4) Dianne says:

I grow herbs in containers on a patio outside my condo – basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, oregano and mint. So far the deer haven’t nibbled at any. Neither have the rabbits. Both are plentiful in this area. I previously grew herbs in raised beds and never had a problem with deer in those either.

July 27, 2008 at 4:19 am
(5) JG says:

We have lots of deer in SF east bay area – They leave the rosemary, lavender & thyme alone. They have eaten basil, oregano, chives, dill. I now grow these on an inaccessible deck. They are now nibbling on iris leaves & my redwood tree leaves.

July 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm
(6) gardening says:

Wow, the oregano too! I guess nothing is really safe. I don’t think I’d mind the iris leaves so much. They get kind of ugly toward the end of summer.

September 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm
(7) Anna says:

We live out in the middle of nowhere, and the deer eat us alive. When they get hungry enough in the fall, they eat everything, including things they’re supposed to hate (onions, etc.)

I got my husband to make me a homemade deer deterrent after every single veggie I owned got chomped on last year (and we tried all of the usual solutions to no avail.) We scrounged around and made ours for pennies and it’s 100% effective!

January 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm
(8) nan43 says:

Has anyone thought of blood meal? When I lived in central oregon, a neighbor had a huge garden with everything in it. He would buy a couple of bags of blood meal and outline the whold garden with it. It seemed to help – he always had fresh veges on the table!

January 27, 2013 at 7:56 am
(9) gardening says:

Blood meal is a good way to keep away animals that only eat plants, like deer and rabbits. I’ve found it needs to be reapplied at least once a month, more if there’s a lot of rain. Also, it’s high in nitrogen, so you want to use it sparingly close to plants that you want to flower and produce lots of fruits, like tomatoes and peppers.

April 23, 2013 at 6:37 am
(10) Pamela Graham says:

Fencing people, 9 plus feet….that is your only answer!

April 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm
(11) gardening says:

Wow Pamela, your deer are really good jumpers! But I agree, a fence is the only guarantee. It doesn’t even have to be metal. Netting is fine.

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