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Do Deer Eat Nasturtium? Test!

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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

While walking our dog on the road one day, my eye fell on some pretty flowers on this climber. So I took a sample home, to find out what that was and whether deer might like it. Turned out, it was nasturtium.

do deer eat nasturtium

Nasturtium, (Tropaeolum majus), aka Indian cress, is an annual plant (in warm enough zones it can be a perennial) of the family Tropaeolaceae, cultivated mainly as an ornamental for its attractive leaves and flowers. Plants may be climbing, cascading, or bushy and may reach as high as 3 meters (10 feet).
Growing nasturtium is easy, even inexperienced gardeners can handle it.
However, first thing we noticed upon bringing some vines and leaving them in the water in our garden, is that it quickly became ants favorite spot!
"Nasturtiums are usually planted as a sacrificial "trap crop" near vegetable gardens to lure sap-sucking insects like aphids, spider mites, whiteflies and leafhoppers away from the vegetable crop." Source

So what did our deer think of it? Did they eat nasturtium?

Watch in this short video what happened when deer were offered nasturtium plant and see for yourself how enthusiastic (not) they were about chewing on this one.

Health and culinary benefits of nasturtiums

Despite deer frowning upon it, he whole plant of nasturtium is edible for us humans, from the flowers to the leaves and is packed full of flavour and beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Indian cress is thought to help fight depression, irritability, anxiety. In folk medicine, it is used as a diuretic and for the treatment of kidney and urinary tract diseases, as well as to help patients with atherosclerosis and metabolic disorder. The medicinal and dietary properties of the plant are also claimed to improve overall immunity, perhaps due to the vitamins C and A content, and the state of eyesight, hair and skin.

Regarding culinary use, nasturtium leaves have a peppery and slightly spicy flavor, and when paired with milder greens could be used in summer salads, while nasturtium seeds make great caper substitutes (pickles recipe). 

nasturtium seeds

Nasturtium seeds. Image credit: Pixabay

⚘ If you're planning on buying nasturtium seeds, here is a link to Amazon's Choice option (we get a small comission at no additional cost to you if you purchase through that link)

How to protect your plants from hungry deer

As stated previously, nasturtium is looking pretty deer proof. But it's unlikely your garden consists solely of this plant. So you might still be wondering, what can you do to protect your yard from deer visits. Luckily for you, we've dedicated an entire post to this question and covered a myriad of different methods employed to keep deer away. From deer repellents to motion-activated sprinklers, we've reviewed them in this guide.

Conclusion: nasturtium is an easy to grow, deer-resistant plant that has culinary and medicinal use, or can be seen as a sacrificial plant to help fight pests in the garden. Deer walk away completely uninterested in Indian cress.

Oh 🦌, oh deer, why can't ya' eat,
these lovely nasturtiums so sweet?
It's a tasty treat, I insist,
so why don't you take a good whiff?

You don't like their yellow hue,
or their spicy taste, is that it too?

The old deer chuckled in dismay,
at the thought of eating nasturtiums for his lunch that day.
"No chance of that happening," he spoke with a gruff,
"My life is already spicy enough!"

ᐉ Are you growing nasturtiums? Have you had any luck planting sacrificial plants? Let us know in the comments below or ask a question.

Last modified 17 September 2023 at 14:32

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