Do deer eat tomato plants? Yes, unfortunately. We all love sighting deer, however, it can quickly turn sour when we see them right above our tomato plants!
So the real question is: Can you prevent them from eating tomatoes and tomato plants? Yes, there are ways. Just follow our suggestions.
- Do Deer Eat Tomatoes?
- Will Eating Tomatoes Hurt Deer?
- How Do You Identify Deer Damages in Your Tomato Garden?
- What Are Tips on Stopping Deer from Eating Tomatoes and Tomato Plants?
Do Deer Eat Tomatoes?
Deer do eat tomatoes – they will live on anything they get during a hard time. In such times, deer eat tomato plants and even unripened tomatoes. Deer are fond of eating anything that fits between their front legs, and consume the fruit and plants their heads can reach without stretching.
Hence, tomato plants growing 3 to 4 feet tall are an easy target for hungry deer. In fact, the Extension Office of Oregon State University researched the deer food habit. The research found that deer eat more than 500 plants and tomatoes are one of them. As deer eat tomatoes, in the process, they will start eating tomato plants too.
It can be a little scary for those who have pet deer at home. Yes, keeping deer at home and having a garden is like arranging a feast for them. They will love the ripened tomatoes and their tastes. They will also happily eat the plants and leaves full of water.
A tomato plant has 90 percent water in it. So, deer find it easy to remain hydrated without even drinking water. It serves both their nutritional and hydrational requirements. And as a result, you will find your pet deer roaming around the leafy tomato plants and finding ways to eat them.
What is more, Forrest W. Appleton, in his research paper, “Deer in the Urban Landscape,” found that deer are found in abundance in the urban landscape, too. Thus, the wild deer often sneak into gardens to find their favorite plants, fruits, and vegetables.
The scariest part about deer is that they will live on almost anything they get in the urban garden. In fact, you will be surprised to see the long list of plants and fruits deer love to eat.
If you plan to prepare a garden, knowing this list will help you. If you have the following plants, you should use deer deterrent plants and elements to keep deer away.
– List of Plants and Vegetables That Deer Love Eating
When you plan on building a garden, it is better to choose plants that fit into your local landscape. Also, you should choose trees and fruits that local animals, such as rabbits and deer, do not eat. Unfortunately, deer love almost everything on the vegetable and fruit list.
The shrub list includes the following:
- Bush Germander
- Ceniza/Texas Sage
- Elaeagnus or Silverberry
- Evergreen sumac
Deer also love the following ground cover trees:
- Prostrate Rosemary
- Lavender Cotton
- Green Santolina
- Frog Fruit
They eat the following ornamental grasses and flowers too:
- Inland sea oats
- Maiden Grass
- Pampas Grass
- Purple Fountain Grass
- Mealy Cup Sage
- Spider Flower
And among the vegetables, deer will try their luck with everything they can reach. This includes tomatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, and otherse. So, they will target your garden’s flowers, grasses, vegetables, and fruits.
It shows the importance of keeping deer away to protect your beautiful garden. If you can’t stop them eating your veggies you can’t stop them from eating tomatoes.
Will Eating Tomatoes Hurt Deer?
Eating too many tomatoes is harmful to deer. Tomatoes contain solanine since it is part of the nightshade plants. Unfortunately, it is toxic and harmful to all animals. Humans too.
When the deer eat too many tomatoes and part of its plants, they can suffer from the following health problems:
- Stomach ache
As you see, eating tomatoes in large quantities is not good for deer health. So, you must find ways to stop them from consuming too many tomatoes before they fall ill.
How Do You Identify Deer Damages in Your Tomato Garden?
You can identify deer damage by bite marks, uprooted plant and hoof prints.It is crucial you identify the culprits because sometimes rabbits and mice can also eat and damage your tomato plants. So, you must be sure that the damages to the tomato plants are due to deer.
It is crucial because you will not exactly see deer herds attacking the plants right before you. Thus, you should observe to find the traces that they leave behind while eating tomatoes:
- When deer eat tomatoes, you will see large bite marks on the stem of the plants. The damage on the stem will be more than the rabbit and raccoon can cause.
- Deer may, at times, uproot the plant forcefully. Thus, it is clear that they have attacked the plant because animals like squirrels or moles can’t uproot a fully-grown tomato plant.
- Finally, look for the deer hoofs in the soil. If the soil is damp or soft, you should easily find deer hoofs inside the garden.
All these signs will help you identify whether the cause of the damage in the garden and tomatoes is deer. So, you should look for preventive measures to stop them.
What Are Tips on Stopping Deer from Eating Tomatoes and Tomato Plants?
Tips on stopping deer from eating tomatoes and tomato plants include using deterrent plants, deterrent sprays and applying deer netting. Deer are cute until they attack your favorite plants. Hence, you must use different methods to prevent them from ruining the beautiful garden.
– Use Deer Deterrent Plants
Planting deer-resistant plants in your garden are the best preventive measure against the deer. Many deer deterrents will not only stop the deer but also enhance the beauty of your garden.
So, it serves you in multiple ways.
- Hot peppers
- Bee balm
These herbs and veggies have a strong smell that deer dislike. So, they keep away from the garden. These herbs and shrubs are famous for companion planting.
It is because you can grow them right beneath your tomato or other garden plants. So, adding these plants to deter deer will consume little space in your garden, too.
– Apply Deer Repellent Sprays
You can try deer repellent sprays if the companion plants fail to keep deer away. The good thing is you can prepare homemade repellent for deer and spray it over the garden. These repellents have strong odors too. It distracts the deer from entering the garden.
The deer nose is known for sniffing any smell from miles to safeguard against predators. Repellents having strong smells take advantage of the sniffing capacity of deer to keep them away. To prepare homemade spray, you may use ground coffee, egg, and hot sauce.
- In a large bucket, take four gallons of water.
- Mix hot sauces with water to spray them over the plants.
- Alternatively, use eggs instead of hot sauce to prepare the deer repellent sprays.
You may even spread coffee grounds near the garden. Many gardeners even suggest keeping your old shoes, socks, and clothes close to the garden plants. The smell of the items will make deer think there is a human present in the garden. So, they will think twice before visiting it.
– Apply Deer Netting
Deer netting or a deer fence is a good way to protect your garden from deer. The deer fence is made of sturdy mesh nets. You can get them at affordable pricing from hardware shops and install them in the garden.
You can use the deer net mesh to cover the surrounding of the tomato plants. So, they will fail to munch over the plant. You should ensure that the deer fence reaches 5 feet over the ground and 1 foot underneath. It will protect the garden plants from deer, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, etc.
Additionally, deer netting is easy to install without any tricky mounting technique. So, you can perform the DIY netting task with ease.
– Apply Fencing Wire
The deer fence is made of mesh net and might need to be stronger to deter deer of large sizes. So, you can use stronger fencing wire to keep deer from the garden. You have to lay down the fencing wire through the entire garden ground.
These fencing wires have a thick structure. So, the deer will not enter the garden through these sharp objects. The hoofs of deer are not made to run over sharper objects. So, deer fencing wire works perfectly to protect the garden. It is also an inexpensive method to preserve tomato plants.
– Try Motion-activated Sprinklers
Deer netting and fencing wire are inexpensive and easy to install. However, they do not guarantee 100 percent safety from the deer because of their weaker structure. Hence, you should install motion-activated sprinklers if something else is needed to stop deer herds from entering the garden.
These sprinklers are tiny but highly beneficial. There’s a sensor inside to detect any motion. As soon as the sensor detects any motion, it will sprinkle water. So, it will sprinkle water as soon as it detects any deer movement.
Moreover, some sprinklers have loud alarms and these devices will blare when they detect animal motion. You may choose from battery or solar-powered automatic water sprinklers. However, we suggest using solar-powered ones as they are eco-friendly and more cost-effective in the long run.
So, you must connect the sprinkler to the garden hose and the outdoor faucet. It will deter deer with maximum success. The best part about the automatic sprinklers is that they can work against all potential intruders in your garden.
– Ultrasonic Deer Repellents As a Way to Deter Deer
Another great way to protect vegetable gardens from deer is ultrasonic deer-repellent devices. These ultrasonic devices are available in different sizes for various gardens, from small to large and commercial ones.
The device will produce sound in high frequency. Although humans can’t hear this high-pitched sound, most animals will hear it, thus, deer and other animals will not come close to this sound.
It happens because the high-frequency sound disturbs the natural habitat of wild animals. As deer are nonviolent and calm, they always avoid any noise.
Ultrasonic deer-resistant devices take advantage of the nature of the animals as the sound protects the tomato plants and fruits successfully. Most of these ultrasonic devices run on battery and will last a couple of months. A few ultrasonic products may require you to connect them to an electric outlet.
Nonetheless, be aware of the high-frequency sound, particularly if you have a pet cat or dog at home. It will disturb their daily routine, too.
– Try Butterfly Bushes
Another natural deer repellent is the butterfly bush. Deer dislike the pungent aroma of the butterfly bushes so they will not come near the bushes and try avoiding them as much as possible.
Also, you can place the lighter branches of the bush right over the tomato plant. So, they will work as a protective cover for the tomato plants.
It works well to keep the birds and rabbits away too. Hence, plating butterfly bushes around the tomato and vegetable plants will serve multipurpose requirements. It works similarly to netting or wiring and is cheaper than the two methods.
Do deer eat tomato plants? Yes, deer love eating tomato plants and tomatoes for their high nutrient and water content, however, you can deter them in multiple ways.
- For smaller deer, you can use homemade deer sprays and repellents. You may mix water, egg, and hot sauce and spray them over the plant to keep deer away.
- Install deer netting or ultrasonic repellent devices if a deer herd regularly enters your garden. These are ideal for protecting large commercial gardens from intruders.
- Consider installing a security camera and solar-powered lights to keep the garden lit at night. It increases the protection of your garden from deer and other intruders.
You can choose one or multiple ways from our suggestions to protect tomato plants from deer. Most of these methods will be effective against rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and other animals as well.
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