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Do Deer Eat Mint? (Repel Deer Naturally)

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gardener notes Gardeners Notes
Plant type: perennials
Deer resistant: yes
Our plant hardiness zone:
New Zealand: subtropical
U.S. Zone 10b

Deer as herbivores will eat a variety of plants to sustain their dietary needs. However, not all plants are created equal when it comes to deer preferences. In this article, we will explore whether deer eat mint and what plants they tend to like and dislike.

do deer like mint or does it repel them

Deer do not have a reputation for being picky eaters, but they tend to favor plants with soft, succulent leaves and shoots and very mild aromas. Some of their favorite plants include clover, alfalfa, and soybeans. They also love fruit trees, such as apple, pear, feijoa and cherry. Deer tend to stay away from plants that have strong aromas or spiny leaves, such as lavender, daffodils, and thistles. Although it's said deer dislike marigolds, our test was at best inconclusive on that one.

Do Deer Like Mint Family Plants?

The mint family, also known as Lamiaceae, is a diverse group of plants that includes culinary herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Mint family plants are often cultivated for their fragrant leaves, which contain essential oils that are used for flavoring food and making perfumes. Despite their pleasant aroma, mint family plants are not a favorite of deer. The strong scent of these plants is a natural deer repellent.

Mint family plants are easy to grow and come in a wide range of flavors and aromas. Some common members of the mint family include:

  • Peppermint: A popular herb used for making tea, candy, and as a flavoring agent in food and drinks. 
  • Spearmint: Another widely used herb in culinary preparations and as a natural remedy for digestive problems.
  • Lemon balm: A fragrant herb with a lemony flavor, often used in teas and as a seasoning for fish and poultry.
  • Agastache (Anise Hyssop) is a perennial grown for its attractive foliage, showy flowers, and pleasant scent. We're actually currently trying to start it from seed.
  • Catnip: A plant that is known to attract cats but also has medicinal properties and can be used in teas or as an insect repellent.
  • Sage: A strong herb with a woody aroma, often used in savory dishes and as a natural remedy for sore throats and colds.

Some mint family plants can be invasive, such as mint itself, which can quickly take over a garden if not kept in check. But many mint family plants can also be grown in pots or containers to control their spread.

We've observed first hand how fast mint can spread (we've probably got applemint kind). Thankfully, we're using it for tea and enjoy the aroma that arises when it's disturbed, so we don't really mind it. But helps keeping it trimmed or it gets really tall, leggy and just out of control.

Planting Mint Species to Deter Deer from Visiting Your Garden

If you want to keep deer out of your garden, planting mint family plants may help. The strong scent of these plants can be a natural repellent for deer, cloaking the appealing scents from your deer-vulnerable plants, making deer less likely to browse in your garden. But this method is not foolproof, and hungry deer may still find a way to get to your plants as their sence of smell is superb.

Still, if you'd like to try this simple, aromatic method of keeping deer away, here's some data on the above mentioned plants:

  1. Peppermin, Lemon balmmint plant

    Image source: Pexels

    • Height: 12-24 inches (30-61 cm) tall
    • Sun positioning: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5
    • Water requirements: Regular watering, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  2. Spearmint
    • Height: 12-36 inches (30-91 cm) tall
    • Sun positioning: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5
    • Water requirements: Regular watering, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  3. Agastache (Anise Hyssop)blue giant hyssop deer proof plant in mint family

    Image source: Pixabay

    • Height: up to 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) tall and 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) wide.
    • Sun positioning: Anise hyssop prefers full sun to partial shade. It can tolerate some shade, but it will produce fewer flowers in shady areas.
    • Soil: Well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including sandy and clay soils, as long as they are well-draining.
    • Water requirements: Relatively drought-tolerant once established and doesn't require frequent watering. However, it will grow best with regular watering, particularly during dry spells.
  4. Catnip catnip plant deer resistant and attracts ladybugs

    Image source: Pexels

    • Height: 24-36 inches (61-91 cm) tall
    • Sun positioning: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-draining soil with a pH between 6.1 and 7.8
    • Water requirements: Moderate watering, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
  5. Sage sage usually is deer resistant

    Image source: Pexels

    • Height: 18-30 inches (46-76 cm) tall
    • Sun positioning: Full sun
    • Soil: Well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5
    • Water requirements: Infrequent watering, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
    Avoid Salvia Splendens though, deer eat it.

In conclusion, deer do not eat mint family plants, and these plants can be used as a natural deterrent to keep them out of your garden. However, it's essential to remember that deer have a very strong sence of smell, and planting mint family plants is not a guaranteed solution. To protect your garden, you may need to use a combination of natural and man-made methods, such as fencing, repellents, and other deterrents, which we've covered in our post here.

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Plants alphabetically
Aagapanthus [bulbs]anemone [bulbs]armeria [perennials]arugula [annuals]aster [annuals]
Bbamboo [perennials]
Ccalla lilly [bulbs]coneflower [perennials]courgette [annuals]cyclamen [bulbs]
Ffoxglove [perennials]freesia [bulbs]
Hheuchera [perennials]hyacinth [bulbs]hydrangea [shrubs]
Iiris [perennials]
Jjasmine [vines]
Llobularia [annuals]
Mmarigold [annuals]mint [perennials]
Nnasturtium [perennials]
Ppea [vines]purple toadflax [perennials]
Ssalvia splendens [perennials]snowflake [bulbs]sweet potato [annuals]
Ttomato [perennials]

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