Do Deer Eat Rhubarb? (and How To PROTECT Your Garden From Deer)

As a nature lover and avid deer enthusiast, I was wandering: do deer eat Rhubarb? This is an interesting question because according to Cornell University, Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is among the plants that are seldom damaged by deer. So, here’s what I found out!

Do Deer Eat Rhubarb?

Deer are generally not known to eat rhubarb. However, there have been reports of deer consuming rhubarb in times of extreme hunger. It is important to note that large quantities of rhubarb (5-10 pounds or more) can be toxic and potentially fatal to deer due to its high oxalic acid content. This means that, using rhubarb alone as a deterrent to keep deer away from gardens may not be sufficient. Additional measures should be taken to prevent deer from accessing the area.

Many gardeners wonder if their rhubarb plants are safe from deer. Well, it is important to keep in mind that deer have a diverse range of dietary habits and preferences that can be influenced by the season and availability of food in their environment. Therefore, even if deer have not shown an interest in eating rhubarb in the past, they may do so in the future.

Understanding Deer Behavior and Feeding Patterns

Deer are opportunistic feeders and have a diet that includes a variety of plants and vegetation. They primarily consume leaves, twigs, buds, fruits, and seeds. They can also feed on woody plants, such as shrubs, saplings, and trees, as well as agricultural crops, such as corn, soybeans, and fruits.

Deer feeding habits can vary depending on the season and availability of food in their environment. During the winter months, when food sources may be scarce, deer will search for anything that can sustain them. In the spring and summer, when vegetation is more abundant, they may have more dietary options and may be less likely to consume rhubarb plants.

Effective Ways to Protect Your Garden And Rhubarb from Deer

Planting Rhubarb alone is clearly not enough to deter deer from entering your garden. That’s why the best way to deer-proof your yard is to adopt multiple strategies. Let’s see the most effective methods to deter deer!

Physical Barriers

  • Installing a fence around the garden is the most effective way to keep deer out of your garden. A fence should be at least 8 feet tall. But most importantly, deer should not be able to see what’s on the other side of the fence: this prevents deer from jumping over it because they will not take the risk.
  • Another option is to use netting or mesh to cover the plants and prevent deer from accessing them. Netting can also protect plants from other animals, such as birds and rodents.
  • Electric fence: Add a low-voltage electric charge to the fence to deter the deer from touching it.
  • Double fence: Install two separate fences that are at least 4 feet apart. The deer will be deterred from jumping over both fences.
  • Using raised beds can also make it harder for deer to access the plants. Raised beds should be at least three feet tall and be fenced to prevent deer from accessing the plants.


There are many natural and chemical repellents available that can discourage deer from entering a garden. Natural repellents include human hair, soap, and garlic. Chemical repellents can include products that contain predator urine, such as coyote or wolf urine.

Deer repellents should be applied to plants or the surrounding area according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Repellents will need to be reapplied after rain or watering.

Companion Planting

  • Planting herbs, flowers, or other plants that deer do not like can help to protect the rhubarb plants. Some examples of deer-resistant plants include mint, lavender, daffodils, and snapdragons.
  • It is also important to avoid planting vegetables or fruits that deer find attractive, such as strawberries or beans, near the rhubarb plants.
  • Plant a natural barrier: Strategically plant thorny bushes or tall ornamental grass around the garden to deter the deer.


Scarecrows are a classic way to keep bird out of the garden, but they work pretty well on deer too. Using motion-activated sprinklers to add a bit of movement to the garden can be enough to spook the deer and send them running.

Ultrasonic Devices

Ultrasonic devices are another effective and humane way to deter deer. These devices emit a high-pitched noise that humans can’t hear but that deer find highly unpleasant. The noise should keep the deer far away from your garden.

Visual Deterrents

Hang shiny objects, such as reflective tape or old CDs, from trees surrounding the garden to confuse the deer’s depth perception.


Dogs are natural predators, and their presence can be a great way to keep deer away from your garden. Even if your dog is just lounging nearby, the scent it leaves behind may be enough to deter deer from approaching your garden.

Human Presence

Deer are naturally skittish animals, and they tend to avoid areas where people are present. Spending more time in your garden can go a long way toward keeping deer away. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy your garden more!

Tips for Preventing Deer Damage

Harvesting and Disposal Techniques

  • Harvesting anything edible regularly can prevent the plants from becoming overgrown and more attractive to deer.
  • Disposing of any damaged or discarded plants away from the garden can also discourage deer from foraging in the area.

By understanding deer behavior and dietary habits, and using effective prevention methods such as physical barriers, repellents, and companion planting, it is possible to protect your garden and rhubarb plants from deer damage.


Do rabbits and squirrels consume rhubarb?

It’s important to note that some animals may find rhubarb appealing, while others avoid it. While the plant is generally deer-resistant, it may still be consumed by slugs, possums, and some types of birds. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that rhubarb can be toxic to both humans and animals, as it contains oxalic acid. In particular, rabbits and squirrels should avoid eating raw rhubarb, as it may be harmful to their health.

Can rhubarb deter deer?

Many gardeners wonder if planting rhubarb will keep deer away. The answer is yes, as rhubarb is known to be a deer-resistant plant. However, this does not mean that deer will never touch your rhubarb plants. While deer may not prefer to eat rhubarb, they may still do so if there is a lack of other options or if they are particularly hungry. Be aware that other pests such as slugs, possums and certain birds may still eat your rhubarb.


In conclusion, while deer are generally not known to devour rhubarb, they can turn to this leafy plant in times of extreme hunger. But before you start using rhubarb as a garden deterrent, bear in mind that excessive consumption of rhubarb can be deadly to deer. Also, using rhubarb alone may not be the most practical solution to keep those pesky deer away from your garden.

Thankfully, there are additional measures you can take to repel deer from your rhubarb garden. These measures include installing deer fencing, using deer repellent sprays, and even planting other plants and herbs that deer are less inclined to eat. So, to answer the question, “Do deer eat Rhubarb?” – the answer is yes, but you don’t have to let them. With the right combination of tactics, you can ensure your rhubarb garden stays safe and deer-free.

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