Do Deer Eat Marigolds? (and How to Protect Your Garden from Deer)

One topic that often comes up is whether or not deer really eat marigolds. Through my research and personal experience, I can say that while it is rare, deer do eat marigolds. In this post, I’ll also share some tips on how to protect your garden from these hungry visitors.

Do Deer Eat Marigolds?

Deer are known to be selective in their food choices and typically do not consume marigolds. However, there have been instances of deer grazing on these tough-smelling flowers. To keep marigolds safe from deer, planting them near other deer-repelling flowers and implementing deer-scaring measures can be effective. Overall, while rare, it is possible for deer to eat marigolds.

Explanation of Marigolds as a Natural Deer Deterrent

Marigolds are vibrant, colorful flowers that can beautify any garden, but did you know that they also have the added benefit of acting as a natural deer deterrent? Marigolds have a distinct scent that deer don’t like. The smell is so strong that deer will typically avoid grazing on them.

Marigolds are known to be a safe option for those who have trouble with animals on their property. They naturally deter deer, but this doesn’t mean they are completely protected from them. In some cases, deer may still be attracted to the marigolds if they are searching for food. In such situations, additional measures may be necessary to protect the marigolds.

Additionally, marigolds have a bitter taste that deer do not find appealing, which also helps in keeping them at bay.Moreover, marigolds also have unique characteristics that make them very resistant to deer. They have a strong, fibrous root system that makes it challenging for deer to pull them out of the ground. The plant’s leaves are also tough to chew, which further discourages deer from eating them.

Scientific Evidence for and Against the Effectiveness of Marigolds

There is limited scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of marigolds in deterring deer. However, many gardeners have reported success in using marigolds to keep deer away from their gardens.

Many people believe that deer do not like marigolds and will avoid them, but this is based on anecdotal evidence. Studies found that marigolds contain compounds that can repel some insects, but these have not been proven to repel deer.

However, in this list published by Penn State University you can see that marigolds are moderately effective means of preventing deer damage in gardens.

Personal Experiences of Gardeners

Many gardeners have had success using marigolds to deter deer from their gardens.

According to observations I commonly hear from experienced gardeners, marigolds emit a strong aroma and have a bitter taste that repels most deer. So, for many of them using marigolds has been an effective, natural alternative to chemical deterrents or building fences. However, it’s important to note that success with this method can depend on various factors like location, climate, and deer population.

How To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden

Fencing Options and Cost Considerations

If all else fails or if deer populations are high in your area, installing a deer-proof fence may be necessary to protect your garden. Deer can leap quite high, so it is typically recommended that fences be at least 8-feet tall.

If you want to keep deer away from your property, installing a fence is a good idea. Wooden fences are effective as deer can’t see where they are jumping. However, the cost of the fence can be high depending on the materials and size of the area being fenced. You should weigh the costs and benefits before making a decision.

Scare Tactics: Visual, Sound, and Smell-Based Options

In addition to marigolds and fencing, scare tactics can also be effective in deterring deer from gardens. Visual deterrents such as scarecrows, flashing lights, or reflective tape can be effective in confusing deer and making them feel unsafe.

Deer can be scared off by sound deterrents like wind chimes, bells, and barking dogs. Using repellents that rely on smell like human hair, soap shavings or blood meal can also be effective, but their efficiency depends on the density of deer population in the area. However, it’s important to remember that these methods might not work in all situations.

Repellent Sprays and Their Ingredients and Effectiveness

Deer repellent sprays, liquids, and powders are another commonly used deer deterrent. These products are typically applied directly to plants and can make them less appealing to deer.

Repellents with natural ingredients, including garlic, peppermint, and putrescent eggs, are effective in keeping deer away. However, their effectiveness depends on the deer population, weather, and product strength. Always read labels and use the spray safely on plants by following instructions.

Planting Flowers and Vegetables That Deer Are Less Likely to Eat

To avoid damage to your garden caused by deer, grow flowers and vegetables that they don’t like to eat. Some plants that are resistant to deer include lavender, yarrow, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. To protect your vulnerable flowers, plant deer-resistant flowers like marigolds in the same area.

Garden Design Options

Changing the layout of your garden can also make it less attractive to deer. For example, adding raised beds or planting flowers in containers can make it more difficult for deer to reach them.

Placing plants in less accessible areas that are not visible from the road or other open areas can also reduce the likelihood of deer feeding on them.Another effective strategy is to add hardscaping elements such as rocks or gravel paths. Deer are less likely to eat in areas with hardscaping, as they prefer softer, more accessible surfaces.

Additional Recommendations

Keeping deer away from your garden can pose a challenge, but reliable sources such as the USDA and National Gardening Association offer useful tips and product recommendations. It’s important to note that the effectiveness of different deterrents can vary by region. Take the time to research and find the best solution for your needs.

For example, some areas may have high deer populations, while others may have more manageable populations. Moreover, different strategies may be more effective in areas with different climates or vegetation. Thus, it is essential to research and tailor your deer prevention strategies based on your specific location and situation.

Acknowledgment of regional variations and available resources

Deer are wily creatures that can cause significant damage to your garden. But the appropriate measures to keep them away may vary depending on your region. Some areas may have more wildlife than others. It’s essential to acknowledge these regional variations and explore available resources to determine the best strategies to protect your garden. Research which plants are less attractive to deer in your region and consider installing appropriate fencing or netting. Don’t forget to reach out to local experts or gardening groups for additional recommendations and resources.


Do deer consume hydrangeas?

It is a common concern for gardeners whether hydrangeas are a preferred choice of food for deer. While some plants are more attractive to deer than others, it is difficult to predict whether or not they will eat hydrangeas. Factors such as the proximity of the plants to areas where deer graze, the presence of other food sources, and the type of hydrangea can all play a role in their likelihood of being eaten. If you are concerned, consider using deer-resistant plants or deterrents such as strong-smelling herbs or predator scents.

Which plants are least preferred by deer?

Springtime is when deer crave succulent buds, but they avoid plants that have overpowering scents or prickly, hairy textures. Fortunately, there are many plants that deer don’t like. Fuzzy-leaved plants such as lambs ear, Siberian bugloss, and lady’s mantle are good choices, as are flowering tobacco, heliotrope, and tuberous begonias. You could also use natural scents like garlic, cloves, eggs, and mint to deter deer. Another approach is to use predator-related scents like wolf urine. If all else fails, you could try spraying vinegar around the garden to mask the scent of delicate plants.

What is the most unpleasant odor for deer?

To keep deer away from your plants, consider using ones with strong smells like garlic, mint, or clove, or plants with fuzzy leaves, such as lady’s mantle or lambs ear. Using vinegar as a deterrent can also work well, as deer find its strong odor unappealing. Additionally, using predator-related scents, such as wolf urine, can keep deer away from your garden. Remember to choose plants with succulent buds, as they are more likely to attract deer.

Which plants repel deer?

To protect your garden from deer, opt for plants with strong scents, spiky or hairy textures, and avoid ones with tender buds.

Certain plants, such as lamb’s ear, flowering tobacco, and heliotrope, are known for their deer-repelling traits due to their fuzzy foliage.

Alternatively, natural deer deterrents like vinegar or scents reminiscent of predators, such as wolf urine, can also help keep the critters at bay.

Can vinegar deter deer?

For those looking to keep deer away from their gardens, vinegar may be a solution. This pungent liquid has been known to deter the animals due to its strong smell. However, it’s not a guaranteed method and may need to be reapplied frequently. For a more foolproof approach, consider planting deer-resistant plants with fuzzy foliage or strong scents like daffodils and poppies. Scents like garlic, mint, and wolf urine may also help keep deer at bay.


So there you have it, folks! The age-old question of “do deer eat marigolds” has finally been answered. While these tough-smelling flowers may be low on their list of preferred snacks, it’s certainly not unheard of for deer to munch on them from time to time.

But fear not, gardeners! You don’t have to sacrifice your beloved marigolds to the deer gods. By planting them alongside other deer-repelling flowers and taking some simple deer-scaring measures, you can keep these beautiful blooms safe and sound.

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