Do Deer Eat Tomato Plants? & 11 Ways to Keep Them Out of Your Tomatoes

Deer can eat many different types of food items, but they mainly feed on plants, bushes, and trees. The type of vegetation that a deer eats depends on what is available in their environment and where they live. Unfortunately, if you live near a wooded area, you’re likely to find a few deer roaming around your garden.

deer eating tomatoes

Do Deer Eat Tomatoes Off the Vine?

Yes, deer will eat tomatoes right off the vine, as well as eating the tomato plant itself. And they’re not the only animals that eat tomatoes off the vine!

Deer need to consume a lot of food to stay healthy, so they will eat quite a few varieties of food.

What Do Deer Generally Eat?

As herbivores, deer like to snack on bushes, plants, fruit trees, and nuts or acorns.

Tomatoes are one type of vegetable that deer enjoy eating, but they can eat many others. They also like to eat peppers, squash, cucumbers, beet greens, beans, grapes, and strawberries, as well as other vegetables and fruit from trees.

Deer will eat almost any foliage, including beet greens, cabbage, broccoli greens, and even sunflower greens.

Do Deer Eat Tomato Plants?

It is a known fact that deer can eat tomatoes. They also eat the leaves and stems of tomato plants, but they don’t like eating the fruit itself. Under normal circumstances, a large group of deer will be able to completely destroy your garden’s crop in no time at all. However, there are some deterrents that you can use to keep the deer from eating your vegetable 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 tomato 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 food – and a good reason to keep your garden plants protected.

How to Keep Deer Away From Your Tomato Plants

You can keep those deer from eating your tomato 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 tomatoes too.

Soap on a string – Irish spring soap is one of the brands that have a very pungent smell

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 tomato plants.

MAGIC CAT Solar Red Eyes

What a genius idea! These solar-powered lights create an eerie glow in your garden to help simulate a large predator and deter:

  • Deer
  • Fox
  • Raccoons
  • Coyote
  • Skunk
  • Cats
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Motion-Activated Sprinkler

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

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

Garden or Deer Netting

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

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 vegetables that act as deer deterrents.

Some deer resistant plants include:

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

Plastic Owl Scarecrow Sculpture

Fake owls are great for keeping many animals out of the garden, including squirrels, deer, birds, and more.

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  • Human hair or animal hair


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.

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

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

Hot Pepper Spray

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

Animal feces or urine

Get Rid of Bird Bath in garden

If you have a birdbath in your garden, they will try and 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.

If you have a lot of deer visiting your tomatoes, these are some great options to try out. And if the deer are something you really have to deal with, you can even hire a professional wildlife expert to come and take care of the problem for you.

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