Do Deer Eat Potatoes? (11+ Ways to Keep Them Out of the Garden)

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By: Chenell - Lead Writer and Gardening Advocate
Published:

I didn’t feel like a true gardener until I grew corn and potatoes. It was super refreshing pulling them out of the ground and being able to make breakfast with them.

But there are a ton of animals that also think potatoes are delicious, including white-tailed deer.

Do Deer Eat Potatoes?

Yes, deer will eat potatoes, as well as eating the potato plant itself. And they’re not the only animals that eat potatoes right out of the ground!

In the spring and summer, when plants are growing actively, deer will munch on just about anything green they can find. This includes not only leaves and grass but also flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

potato hills

However, there are some deterrents that you can use to keep the deer from eating your vegetable plants.

How to Keep Deer Away From Your Potato Plants

You can keep those deer from eating your potato plants by covering them with netting materials. You may also want to add some kind of chemical spray that will keep the deer away from eating your plants, and potatoes too.

Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Deer can be skittish, so hearing loud noises and seeing a lot of movement can scare them away. A motion-activated sprinkler can absolutely do the trick.

I tested it out this season and it works! Here is the motion-activated sprinkler in action in my garden:

Make sure you set up a trail cam to watch all the animals run as fast as they can away from your garden 🙂

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Red Cat Eyes

These fake red eyes are great for keeping nocturnal animals out of the garden, and while deer aren’t fully nocturnal, these work for keeping them from eating potato plants.

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Fencing

Deer can easily jump short fences, so if you’re going to go this route, you’ll want to put up a wire fence that is at least 7-8 feet tall. A tall fence is the only way to “deer proof” your potato patch.

You can also invest in an electric fence to help keep your vegetable garden and precious potato plants safe.

Fences also help keep out animals like rabbits, raccoons, and more.

Garden or Deer Netting

It’s not called deer netting to keep out squirrels. 🙂

If the netting is setup the right way, it can keep deer out. But if you just set it up the same way you would a fence, they can easily jump it. It really should be placed overtop the garden, instead of as a fence.

Deer Repellent Sprays

This stuff is pretty gross, and no wonder rotten eggs work to keep deer out. The main ingredient in this popular spray is whole egg, followed by garlic and cloves. Gross, but those pungent smells really do help keep deer out.

Nylon Stockings with Soap

Got some extra Irish Spring soap laying around? Add it inside of a nylon stocking and hang it from a nearby tree branch. This scent is quite good at keeping deer out of the area.

Companion Planting

You can also use an age-old method of companion planting, which is essentially planting other crops and deer-resistant vegetables that act as deer deterrents.

Some deer-resistant plants include:

  • Garlic
  • Daffodils
  • Lavender
  • Various types of sage
  • Poppies

Deer are not fans of strong smells, and that’s exactly what garlic offers.

  • Fend Off Sticks – Garlic odor

Here are some other deer-resistant plants to try out including flowers, vegetables, and perennials.

Plastic Owl or Scarecrow

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Hot Pepper Spray

Similar to the deer repellent above, hot pepper sprays are great for keeping them out of the potato patch.

Animal feces or urine

Gross – but it can work! If deer smell this strong scent from wild animals, it’s usually enough to repel deer.

Get Rid of the Bird Bath

If you have a birdbath in your garden, they will use it as a water source. Once they’re nearby, they’ll realize there is some free food nearby.

Take away the water, and you can help ease some of the destruction. Although if you’re struggling with birds eating your tomatoes, having a birdbath can keep those feathered friends from eating your plants.

Plant a Decoy Garden

You can also plant a garden on the other side of your property that is full of fruits and vegetables deer feed on if you have the space. This helps you feed deer to keep them full while making sure they stay away from your potatoes.

While this can backfire on you, it worked for me when the rabbits were eating my tomato plants.

How Far Do Deer Travel for Food

Deer will travel anywhere from 1/2 mile, up to a mile to eat each day. Most people don’t realize they can come that far. And that means even if you don’t live right near the woods, if they’re pretty close you could have deer coming to your property looking for food. And potatoes or other plants in your garden might just be what they stumble upon.

How Much Do Deer Eat Per Day

A deer can eat around 6-8% of its body weight each day.

That means a deer that weighs 160 pounds can consume around 10-12 pounds of food per day. That’s during the spring, but during the winter they can still eat between 4-5 pounds each day.

That’s a LOT of potatoes – and a good reason to keep your garden plants protected.

Do Deer Eat Sweet Potatoes?

The sweet potato plants are not safe either, and is definitely not one of the deer resistant vegetables. Their sweet flavor comes through in the leaves as well, so deer love eating potatoes.

Will Potatoes Grow Back After Being Eaten by Deer?

Depending on the extent of the deer damage, potato leaves and sweet potato vines can grow back. If there is a ton of damage, you might not be able to regrow the ones the hungry deer ate, or they will take a lot more time to produce potatoes because of the stress they have to come back from.

If you have a lot of deer visiting your potatoes, these are some great options to try out.

chenell

AUTHOR

Hi - I'm Chenell! I'm on a mission to learn how to grow my own food, and help other people do the same.

I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs, I started making my Iowa blood proud and growing all kinds of food 🌽 I started this website to help keep track of the journey while teaching others the mistakes and things I'm learning along the way. You can follow along with the journey and learn more here.

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