Do Deer Eat Elderberry Bushes? (and Ways to PROTECT Your Garden)

I have always been curious about whether deer eat elderberry bushes, as I have seen conflicting information on the topic. So, do deer eat elderberry? Read on to find out the answer.

Do Deer Eat Elderberry Bushes?

Deer are known to eat elderberry bushes and leaves, although their consumption varies depending on their individual preferences and geographical location. Elderberries and leaves are not the sole food source for deer, as they are picky eaters and prefer more palatable options. Some deer may choose to munch on elderberry plants, while others may find better alternatives to satisfy their dietary needs. Overall, elderberry constitutes a portion of deer’s diet, but it is not their primary food source.

Understanding the Attraction of Elderberry Bushes to Deer

Deer are notorious for their picky eating habits, and elderberry bushes may or may not be part of their diet depending on the specific species and location. While deer may not actively seek out elderberry bushes, they may still consume them if no other food sources are available or if they find them particularly appealing.

Deer are attracted to bushes based on factors such as their age, condition, and location. Elderberry bushes are particularly appealing to deer because they produce nutrient-rich berries and leaves, and tend to grow in areas with ample sunlight and moisture, offering a readily available food source in otherwise barren environments.

Are Elderberry Bushes Deer-Resistant?

Although elderberry bushes are not the deer’s primary food choice, they are generally considered deer-resistant plants, meaning they are not commonly consumed by deer unless other food sources are scarce. However, keep in mind that different species of deer may have varying tastes, and some may find elderberry bushes more appealing than others. Fawns and juvenile deer may also be more likely to consume elderberry bushes as they are still learning what is safe to eat.

Methods for Protecting Elderberry Bushes from Deer

Deer – majestic beauty or elderberry predator? If your backyard is not only your sanctuary but also a frequent deer sanctuary, you might be wondering how you can protect your elderberry bushes. The good news is, there are several methods for keeping the deer at bay.

1. Fence Them Out

Fences are among the most effective options for protecting your elderberry bushes from hungry deer. A fence of at least 6 feet tall can prevent deer from jumping over and reaching the elderberry bushes. Additionally, electric fencing can be an even better option, as it will deliver a mild shock to remind the deer that your elderberry bushes are not for munching.

2. Sprays and Repellants

Another great option for keeping deer at bay is using sprays and repellants. There are a variety of commercial products available that will make your elderberry bushes taste unpleasant to deer. You can also make homemade sprays using natural ingredients like cayenne pepper, garlic, or rotten eggs. Just be aware that these sprays may need to be reapplied after rain or heavy dew.

3. Noise and Light Deterrents

Deer are skittish creatures that are easily spooked by loud noises and sudden flashing lights. Consider installing motion-activated lights or creating a noisemaker that will scare deer away from your elderberry bushes. You can use shiny objects like CDs or aluminum foil to create flashes of light, or create your own noisemaker with simple items like tin cans or bells.

4. Plant Strategically

You can also help deter deer by planting your elderberry bushes in strategic locations. Space them close together or plant them beneath trees or other foliage. This will make it harder for deer to move around the elderberry bushes and make them less tempting. Additionally, you can plant other deer-resistant plants around your elderberry bushes to create a barrier.

5. Get a Furry Friend

Finally, if your neighborhood allows it, consider getting a dog. Dogs are natural predators, and their presence can often deter deer. Just be sure that your dog isn’t actually harassing or harming the deer, and make sure it’s properly trained and supervised.


So there you have it, folks! The answer to the age-old question, “do deer eat elderberry bushes?” is yes, but not necessarily with gusto. While elderberry bushes and leaves are a part of their diet, deer are picky eaters and will often choose more appealing options. Elderberry is not their primary food source, but it is still a viable snack for the discerning deer.

Next time you see a deer nibbling on an elderberry bush, remember that they are just trying to mix up their diet. Perhaps they are feeling a little adventurous or maybe they just can’t resist the taste of elderberry. Either way, it’s cool to witness these majestic creatures enjoying the same snack as us. Happy elderberry munching, dear deers!

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