A Plant that Deters Deer

cilantro leafThis tip was offered by a guest at our Smart Gardening Workshop on “Deer-Resistant Gardening”. See what plant you might try as a way to ward off deer.

This gardener, whose name and location we didn’t catch, swears by coriander as a plant that wards off deer. She recommends keeping pots of it around deer-favored plants you wish to protect. She also snips its leaves and drapes them over the stems of susceptible plants, though she notes this obviously has to be repeated.

Coriander is also known as cilantro and Chinese parsley. (In cooking, this plant’s seeds are “coriander” and its leaves are “cilantro.”) It is an annual herb that likes full sun and warm but not hot temperatures. (It will start to go to seed, or bolt, when temperatures reach the high 70s.) It needs good drainage and can survive some light frost.

File under: worth trying.

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33 thoughts on “A Plant that Deters Deer

  1. I put bamboo sticks in and around deer favorite plants, when they bend over to eat the plants the bamboo sticks poke them in the nose and eyes and they leave the plants alone, works..

  2. It is way too hot here in Montgomery, Alabama to grow coriander but I find Irish Spring Soap works great against deer. That and moth balls. I buy the small sample size soap at the big box store and put in plastic mesh bags that turkeys and oranges come in. I hang one off my live oak tree. The deer don’t pass it and I can happily hang my impatiens underneath. I have one on the ground by the rose and another by the hydrangeas. Works great!

  3. read an article a few years ago.. how deer love plants fertilzed with nitrogen. planted shore juniper and inkberry holly on a commercial with deer.. inkberry had tag that said deer proof. so nursery plants are feed with lots of nitrogen to get them nice and green.. so the deer loved them even though normally wouldnt touch them. and most people who garden will fertilze there plants every year.. instead use compost..

  4. I live where there are a bunch of deer… they eat everything with time. Only good solution I found is a water sprinkler with a motion dector.. They hate it when the water comes on!

  5. Sorry but this is not a practical solution. Fences are the most effective followed by scent repellents applied often. Ask anyone who grows food crops and ornamentals in areas with high deer populations. Save the cilantro for cooking. Nice try but lets stick to the science part of horticulture for a solution. Don’t mean to sound snarky but this is not effective and a waste of time and cilantro. Why would you publish such bunk?

    • Well, I have cilantro that reseeds itself all over my property, and I’ll be happy to check on the deer reactions, and try her idea. I do think it’s a bit snarky to put down a fellow gardener’s attempt to be helpful.

  6. We live in a rural area in SE MI and of course there are plenty of deer around. However, so far my 2 dogs, a hound and a Pit Bull have kept the deer from eating everything.

    • maybe oprah has a solution !! couldn’t help myself, lots of oprah hype the last couple days !! my deer in port townsend washington sound like the norm – their munching habits change….they were here first, so guess learn to live with them….

      • True, deer were here first, but not in the numbers we have today. The herds are totally out of control. Living with them is nice, unless you depend on your garden to feed your family or to make your living. In that case, simply living with them is not an option and practical solutions that work to keep them out are the only solution.

        • We have moved into the deer’s habitat. There is less and less space for them to live. No wonder they are a problem. We also contend with coyotes, bobcats, and now bears for the same reason.

    • I have a dog that keeps everything away from my yard too. She’s great for deer, raccoons, blue heron ( I have a Koi pond). I have roses planted down my driveway so I know she’s working at night as well. I’m willing to try anything to keep the deer from my tall German iris this year. They seem to be a deer favorite though the critters used to leave them alone! I appreciate all the suggestions from other gardeners, keep up the good work!

  7. Always nice to find something new to try, and at least the cilantro is an herb that I like. The deer around my central Wisconsin home are so bad, they even eat my daffodils!

  8. It has been my experience that different herds of deer eat (and avoid)different different things…..your best bet is to see what works in your neighborhood. Scented foliage is always a good first criterion.

  9. The best best plant to deter deer, and they HATE it is Russian Sage. It is the ONLY plant they don’t eat. Deer here in So West Colorado eat everything, even geraniums, but they HATE Russian Sage and if you put a border of it, they wont pass through. Its the only thing that works.

  10. Coriander reseeds itself like crazy; be forewarned. What I have used, is Aconitum (Monkshood), Monarda (Beebalm). I have planted a living wall across their path, and they do not go through it. Also, Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’, or ‘Ingwerson’s Variety’ works well. They will not walk through it.

  11. I have coriander self seeding in my garden and have found the deer damage much less. Now I just leave the coriander there and incorporate it in. Same with chives. They’re pretty when they bloom and the deer, bunnies, and ground hogs don’t like it

  12. I can try but I’m skeptical. I have 40 undeveloped acres behind my house, and I have herds of deer in my backyard at any time. Herds and herds. I spray either Bobbex or Liquid Fence every 2 weeks but they browse anyway, especially when it’s time to spray again. They have eaten all the “deer-resistant” plants such as scratchy, picky junipers and viburnum. They chewed the daffodils, which they hate, then spit them on the ground, I guess in disgust? The studies say the amount of deer browsing depends on your deer density per acre. With the high densities very few control measures work. But I will try anything, since my hilly, rocky lot would be hard to fence. Worth a shot!

  13. Grasses may also deter deer. Deer seem to be afraid of their movement in the wind. I think it has something to do with the deer’s vision and the instinct to flee from anything that moves in the distance. I’ve planted large grasses to block the ends of my perennial bed, and so far I’ve had no problems. Rabbits are another issue, however. I’m getting some milorganite today!

  14. Unfortunately, coriander/cilantro is hard for us to keep here, since our temperatures jump into the 90s in spring just when I start growing some. But I use this trick with mint, which is a rampant grower around the greenhouse. So far, it’s kept the deer from eating our blueberries and hosta in the the children’s garden.

  15. There are lots of plants that deer won’t eat or don’t like. Unfortunately, most of the time they will just pass them by and go for the ones they do like. You’d have to have a pretty small garden to have enough coriander to protect everything. The best deer deterent in our 10 acres of formal gardens has been Milorganite. Not expensive to use even in a big garden and is also a fertilizer. Keeps bunnies and groundhogs away too.

    • Thanks for the Milorganite suggestion I have deer, groundhogs and bunnies chomping on everything. So I used it my flower bed and no one ate anything overnight. BUT the wild turkeys came by and scratched out the newly planted bed. Maybe turkeys don’t smell it???

  16. It makes sense to me that this might work as coriander has a very powerful nose. I’ll definitely give it a try and pass this tip on to friends who have bigger dear problems than I do. Thanks.

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