We independently select products & services. If you click the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Do Deer Eat Mint? A Gardener’s Guide to Using Mint as a Natural Deer Repellent

If you have deer frequenting your yard or garden, you may be wondering if planting mint will help deter them. As an avid gardener and nature lover, I’ve done extensive research into mint and other natural ways to keep deer from devastating my plants. So, do deer eat mint?

No, as also stated by Rutgers University, deer generally avoid eating mint. The strong scent of mint plants can deter deer from approaching or nibbling on your garden vegetation. However, mint should be used carefully as it can be invasive. Combining mint with other deer-resistant plants provides the best protection.

Keep reading to learn how mint can actually repel deer, along with tips for using mint and other deer-resistant herbs and plants in your garden.

Why Deer Avoid Mint

There are a few key reasons why deer tend to avoid mints:

  • Strong scent – The potent smell of mint plants can mask other appealing garden smells that would normally attract deer.
  • Flavor – Deer find the strong taste of mint to be unpalatable.
  • Aromatic oils – Compounds like menthol in mint oils can irritate or overwhelm a deer’s sensitive nose.
  • Square stems – Deer tend to avoid plants with square stems, a characteristic of the mint family.

These natural properties make mint a potentially effective deer repellent. Nevertheless, it is crucial to bear in mind a few significant considerations.

Limitations of Mint as a Deer Deterrent

While mint has shown promise for deterring deer, there are some limitations:

  • Hunger – If deer are extremely hungry, they may still eat mint plants despite finding them distasteful.
  • Loss of scent – During rain, mint plants release less of their strong scent, making them more vulnerable.
  • Invasiveness – Mint spreads rapidly and can take over gardens if left unchecked.
  • Variability – Not all deer react the same way to mint, based on the particular herd and region.

Therefore, mint alone may not be 100% effective for keeping deer away. Using it in combination with other deer-resistant plants and tactics provides better protection.

Best Ways to Use Mint as a Deer Repellent

If you want to use mint to help deter deer, here are some of the most effective methods:

  1. Plant mint varieties along the perimeter of your garden beds to mask the scent of plants inside. Peppermint and spearmint have the strongest scent.
  2. Interplant mint with vegetables, flowers, and other susceptible plants to create an unattractive mix of smells and flavors for deer.
  3. Grow mint in containers near vulnerable plants. This prevents mint from spreading while allowing it to mask appealing scents.
  4. Crush or brush against mint leaves frequently to release the essential oils, especially after rain.
  5. Apply diluted mint oil around the garden perimeter or on stakes near plants. Reapply after rain.

Combining multiple mint plants provides even better coverage. You can also integrate other herbs like lavender, garlic, and sage to confuse deer’s sense of smell.

Best Deer-Resistant Herbs Beyond Mint

While mint can be part of an effective deer deterrent strategy, many gardeners find the best success by drawing from a diverse mix of herbs and plants. Here are some other top options to consider:

  • Lavender – The strong fragrance of lavender confuses deer and deters browsing.
  • Garlic – Garlic plants and chives contain sulfur compounds that naturally repel deer.
  • Sage – Deer dislike the fuzzy leaves and pungent scent of sage plants.
  • Thyme – Another herb with a strong taste and aroma avoided by deer.
  • Oregano – Contains compounds like thymol that irritate deer noses.
  • Catnip – Has a smell that deer don’t like and can repel insects too.

Combining several types of aromatic herbs creates a diverse blend of smells that overwhelm a deer’s senses. Herbs with irritating textures like fuzzy lamb’s ear or prickly rosemary are also good choices.

Other Deer Deterrent Options

In addition to aromatic plants, there are other tactics you can use to make your garden less appealing to deer:

  • Install motion-activated sprinklers or lights.
  • Use organic repellent sprays made with hot peppers, garlic, eggs, etc.
  • Erect fences around gardens – 8 feet tall is optimal.
  • Allow dogs access to yard areas frequented by deer.
  • Incorporate plants with strong scents like marigolds.
  • Add thorns, netting, or other barriers to protect plants.
  • Ultrasonic devices like the one below are also very effective

Taking a multi-pronged approach provides the best chance of success in deterring deer. Be sure to reapply repellents frequently, especially after rain.


In conclusion, do deer eat mint? No, in fact, mint is used as a deer repellent. However, mint alone may not completely protect plants from hungry deer. But when used strategically alongside other deer-resistant herbs, repellents, and tactics, mint can be a useful element of an integrated deer deterrent plan.

The bottom line is that deer tend to avoid the potent smell and taste of mint plants. Interspersing mint with other plants masks appealing scents that draw deer in. While not a foolproof solution, mint is one of many tools gardeners can tap to naturally repel deer and enjoy their landscapes.