Medicinal Herbs: Repel deer with aromatic plants (2023)

  1. Heim
  2. garden, lawn and landscape
  3. gardening techniques
  • English
  • Spanish

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Many of the plants that enhance the flavor of our food also leave behind a rich aroma when we brush them in the garden, cut a few for soup, or dry them in the fall.

Although aromatic and pleasant to us, many herbs have the opposite effect on deer and other animals, who find them unpalatable. For this reason, herbs are among the best plants to ward off garden chewers, said Linda McMahan, a horticulturist at Oregon State University.

She gives advice on how to use aromatic herbs to our advantage.

"A word of caution: Even the hardiest deer-resistant plants may not always make a good deterrent," she said. "Deer in one area, even in a neighborhood, may learn to tolerate some plants while deer in other areas may avoid them."

Many herbs come from the Mediterranean or other dry summer regions of the world and are familiar to us for culinary reasons. The same smells that enhance a stew will often deter deer. Sage, for example, is botanically known as Salvia officinalis and many variegated cultivars are available in addition to the standard sage green.

The same goes for rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), oregano (Origanum), mint (Mentha), thyme, including creeping thyme (Thymus species and cultivars), and dill (Anethumus graveolens).

Other attractive and traditional aromatic herbs that deer usually repel are lavender of all kinds (Lavandula), catnip (Nepeta), Germander (Teucrium), and lavender cotton (Santolina).

For shrubs, try aromatic ones like mugwort (Artemisia), Pacific wax myrtle (Myrica californica), or fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatic). Dwarf or deciduous conifers often do well and are all aromatic and include juniper, cedar and Mugo pine (Pinus mugo).

While not foolproof, you can experiment with other strong-smelling plants to see which ones work in your area. McMahan recommends checking USDA growing zones before planting, as various areas of the Pacific Northwest have conditions that may not be suitable for all plants listed here. Oregon has six of the 11 plant hardiness zones in the United States.

Medicinal Herbs: Repel deer with aromatic plants (1)

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Explore more OSU Extension resources:gardening techniques,wildlife

Was this page helpful?

Related content from the OSU extension

Photo: Steve Bowers (cropped from original)

Eight things to consider when building a pond on your wooded lot.

Few amenities add value to a wooded lot better than a pond. When built properly, ponds can provide water for livestock and wildlife, fishing, boating, swimming, fire safety, aesthetics, and increased land value. ...

Lauren Grand |July 2020 |Article

(Video) How to Deer Proof Your Garden

Photo: Oregon State University (cropped from original)

In Lane County: Upcoming Classes, Events & More!

Find out about upcoming courses and events being offered in Lane County by OSU Extension Programs. Plus, expansion-related news and education.


Woodland Notes-Newsletter

The Woodland Notes newsletter where you can read about forestry and Christmas tree information on tree care and health and find local forestry events covering Clackamas, Marion and Hood River counties. and other interesting articles for forest owners/farmers.


Tree protection on building and development sites

This publication is a guide to the protection, conservation, selection, maintenance, removal and replacement of trees on development sites in the Pacific Northwest.

December 2009 |OSU extension catalogPeer-Review (Orange-Level)

Photo: Sight and Sound Services (cropped from original)

Bees in the Forest: Encouraging pollinator habitat in your eastern forest

This is an introductory video that describes the needs of pollinators and how those needs can be met by forests in eastern Oregon.

Jacob Putney, Brad Withrow-Robinson, Lauren Grand, Pat McAbery |November 2022 |VideoPeer-Review (Graustufe)

Photo: Sight and Sound Services (cropped from original)

Bees in the forest: Controlling invasive species with solarization

This video describes the solarization process and how it promotes native plants and pollinator habitat.

Hayley Brazier, Jacob Putney, Brad Withrow-Robinson, Lauren Grand, Pat McAbery |November 2022 |VideoPeer-Review (Graustufe)

(Video) 10 Best Deer Resistant Perennial Plants For Your Home Yard 🌻 Perennial Plants to Resist Deer 🦌

Photo: Sight and Sound Services (cropped from original)

Bees in the forest: using prescribed fire to improve pollinator habitat

This video explains how the High Desert Museum uses prescribed fire to maintain forest health while promoting pollinator habitats.

Hayley Brazier, Jacob Putney, Brad Withrow-Robinson, Lauren Grand, Pat McAbery |November 2022 |VideoPeer-Review (Graustufe)

Photo: Christina Freihauf (detail from the original)

Episode 3: How forests grow

In this episode of In The Woods, Jacob Putney joins John Bailey in learning the basics of forest growth.

Jacob Putney |March 2022|podcast episode

Photo credit: Insects (a Peterson Field Guide) by Donald J. Borror & Richard White (cropped from the original)

Entomology for Gardeners

Your garden is full of insects - some friends, some enemies. Learn how to identify insects so you know how to react when you see them in your garden.

Jean R. Natter |January 2019 |Article

Photo: Christina Freihauf (detail from the original)

Episode 9: Wild Animals

In this episode, Lauren Grand talks to Thomas Stokely about the relationship between forests and wildlife.

Lauren Grand, Thomas Stokely |March 2022 |podcast episode

(Video) Best ways to stop deer from eating your plants

Photo: Christina Freihauf (detail from the original)

Episode 11: Difficult situations

In this episode, Lauren Grand and Emily Jane Davis discuss strategies to help landowners deal with difficult situations.

Lauren Grand, Emily Jane Davis |March 2022 |podcast episode

Photo: Christina Freihauf (detail from the original)

Episode 13: Forest management

In this episode, Jacob Putney talks to Glenn Ahrens about the importance of forest management. Ahrens is an assistant professor at Oregon State University's College of Forestry and an advisory officer for Clackamas, Marion, and Hood River counties.

Jacob Putney, Glenn Ahrens |March 2022 |podcast episode

Photo: Christina Freihauf (detail from the original)

Episode 15: Reforestation

In this episode, Stephen Fitzgerald talks to Carli Morgan about reforestation at the McDonald-Dunn Forest plantation. Morgan manages the reforestation, forest inventory and GIS programs for the OSU research forests.

Stephen Fitzgerald, Carli Morgan |March 2022|podcast episode

Photo: Christina Freihauf (detail from the original)

Episode 4: Forest Health

In this episode, Jacob Putney is joined by Dave Shaw, a forest health specialist at Oregon State University. They discuss a variety of forest health issues such as drought, insects and disease, and the impacts these agents have on the growth of individual trees and forests.

Jacob Putney, David C. Shaw |March 2022|podcast episode

Colorful houseplants make adorable gifts for the holidays

Colorful African violets, gloxinia, cyclamen, orchids, ornamental peppers and Christmas cacti are in bloom and readily available.

Kym Pokorny | 12/12/2020 |news post

(Video) How to Deer-Proof Shrubs | This Old House

Photo credit: vintagepix - (cropped from original)

Construction of a landscape retaining wall

Retaining walls are popular features in commercial and residential landscaping projects. They can be installed by yourself, which makes them very inexpensive. The following is a do-it-yourself guide to installing a retaining wall using a designed block system.

June 2018 |Article

Environmental factors affecting plant growth

Learn about the environmental factors that affect plant growth: light, temperature, water, humidity and nutrition. Directly or indirectly, most plant problems are caused by environmental stress.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden |January 2008|ArticlePeer-Review (Graustufe)

Photo: Christina Freihauf (detail from the original)

Episode 18: Smallholder Management

In this episode, Lauren Grand and Lindsay Reaves talk about forest management at the Bauman Family Tree Farm. Reaves lives and works on the farm with her husband Tom Bauman.

Lauren Grand, Lindsay Reaves |April 2022 |podcast episode

Medicinal Herbs: Repel deer with aromatic plants (20)

Have a question? Ask an expert!

(Video) Edible Plants That Deer Hate To Eat

Ask an Expert is one way to get answers from the Oregon State University Extension Service. We have experts in family and health, community development, nutrition and agriculture, coastal issues, forestry, youth programs and gardening.

Ask us a question


What plant smell do deer hate the most? ›

10 Plants that Repel Deer in Your Yard
  • Chives.
  • Daffodils.
  • Lamb's ear.
  • Bleeding heart.
  • Marigolds.
  • Russian sage.
  • Bee balm.
  • Oregano.
16 Jun 2022

Is there a scent that repels deer? ›

What smells work best at deterring deer? Some smells that deer react negatively to include eggs, garlic, cloves, and mint. They're also driven away if they smell danger, so using predator scents, such as wolf urine, may work.

What spices will keep deer away? ›

The best natural plant deer repellents include marigolds, lavender, mint, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, and tansy.

What kind of herbs do deer not eat? ›

The deer-resistant herbs with these high ratings include basil, Greek oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Deer keep their distance from these delicious herbs because of the plant's strong-smelling essential oils or the foliage's intense aroma.

Do deer like the smell of cinnamon? ›

Some not-so-awful smells that keep deer away include mint oils (often combined with pepper and garlic), cloves and cinnamon, and citrus.

What is the best homemade deer repellent? ›

5 DIY Deer Repellent Recipes
  • Recipe #1: 3 Tablespoons hot sauce. 3 raw eggs. 3 Tablespoons of minced garlic. ...
  • Recipe #2: 4 Tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper. 1 cup white vinegar. ...
  • Recipe #3: 1 egg. 1/2 cup milk. ...
  • Recipe #4: 1 cup sour cream. 1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap. ...
  • Recipe #5: 1 egg yolk. 1 Tablespoon baking powder.
28 Apr 2017

What essential oils keep deer away? ›

Deer have a strong sense of smell and dislike the scent of peppermint oil. In fact, deer have a stronger olfactory sense than bloodhounds. You can use peppermint oil to repel deer by using a diffuser or a commercial repellent containing peppermint oil near your backyard or garden.

Does eucalyptus repel deer? ›

So, you may wonder – do Deer eat Eucalyptus plants? Fortunately, Deer do not favor Eucalyptus trees. Therefore, Eucalyptus trees are deer-resistant and can be grown in areas where growers need to deter Deer.

Do deer like the smell of mint? ›

Mint is also a good choice for a deer-resistant herb garden. The strong scent of mint is off-putting to deer, who will avoid eating plants that smell strongly of mint. In addition, the leaves of mint plants are usually quite fuzzy, which can also deter deer from taking a bite.

Does cinnamon get rid of deer? ›

Deer often feed on plants you wish to preserve. Create a homemade cinnamon mixture to deter deer from your yard and to take back control of your space. Using cinnamon is cheaper than erecting expensive and unsightly fencing and safer than using toxic substances as deer repellents.

What really keeps deer away from plants? ›

Deer repellents are most often made from putrified eggs, dried blood, garlic, or soaps. Several studies, including this one, have found that egg-based products are the most effective. These include Deer Away, Bobbex, and Liquid Fence. I've used all of these and have had good results.

Is rosemary a deterrent for deer? ›

Rosemary – The wonderful aroma makes this herb popular in kitchens, but it can keep even hungry deer away. Russian Sage – With heavily scented foliage and flowers, this lovely herb deters deer from eating nearby plants.

Will deer eat oregano? ›

What is this? Buy plants deer don't like to eat – In addition to odors, they also don't like eating plants that have a strong flavor. Some good examples are herbs like cilantro, lavender, mint, rosemary, basil, and oregano. This wildflower mix contains several plants that deer don't like the taste of.

Do deer like the smell of herbs? ›

Sometimes deer will even munch on some strong smelling herbs. However this will happen only if deer have no better alternative. If they have plenty of green leaves of other, more appetizing types at their disposal, they will not even get near your thyme and basil.

What is a deer's favorite smell? ›

Deer are attracted to the smell of soil as is, but if you want to up the attraction factor, pour some buck or doe urine, or scrape starter into it. This will create an exceptional trail camera site, as bucks will continue to check the scrape every time they pass by or are in the area.

Do deers like the smell of vinegar? ›

Deer, as well as other animals, “including cats, dogs, rabbits, foxes and racoons, [don't like] the scent of vinegar even after it has dried.

Does Irish Spring soap keep deer away? ›

Sprinkle Soap

It may seem silly, but sprinkling soap is a tried and true method of deterring deer from entering and destroying your garden. Cut Irish Spring Original soap into cubes, and place the pieces into the ground around newly growing plants.

What scares deer the most? ›

Research shows that predator urine, from bobcats and coyotes, are the most effective repellents in deterring white-tailed deer specifically. Odor-based repellents can be used to treat individual plants or for area treatments.

How do you keep deer away naturally? ›

Some gardeners swear by hanging fabric softener strips and/or wrapped bars of soap from trees, both of which can confuse a deer's sense of smell. Others point to using hot pepper sprays, garlic and rotten egg mixtures, ammonia-soaked rags, and bags of hair and/or blood meal around the garden for the same reason.

Do deer like the smell of lemon? ›

Deer Hate Citrus

Their smell should repel deer and, not only that, but your yard will smell nice and fruity too!

Does neem oil deter deer? ›

A neem oil spray infused with capsaicin. The oil is for killing powdery mildew, but the pepper will be unpleasant to the deer.

Does clove oil repel deer? ›

It's best to use lighter weight plant extraction oils (aka essential oils) like those from the very plants that deer rarely eat. Deer don't like mint, rosemary, cinnamon and clove.

Does citronella keep deer away? ›

Ever wondered, do deer eat Citronella plants? Citronella plants are deer resistant and heat and drought tolerant. Citronella plants looks great in containers and are ideal for use as a patio or house plant.

Do deers like the smell of rosemary? ›

Fortunately, Rosemary is a perfect deer resistant plant. It also has a beautiful smell that transforms the ambience in your home and gardens. However, deer do not like such scents, so you can enjoy the aroma while keeping deer away.

Do deer like the scent of lavender? ›

These fragrant perennials, most commonly known as herbs, are a lovely addition to any garden. Whether you want them for aesthetic purposes or their utility in the home, Lavender's potent fragrance is the exact reason why deer avoid this plant altogether.

Do deer like the smell of sulfur? ›

You may think they keep deer away because they taste and smell so bad. But the sulfur odor actually promotes a fear response in deer and other herbivores. In the deer brain, the smell of rotting eggs is associated with predator activity.

Will cinnamon hurt any plants? ›

Even with its strong smell, cinnamon will not cause any harm to the plants. In fact, not only will it not injure plants, its antibacterial qualities can also help to prevent mold or mildew from appearing on the soil surface as well, further protecting the plants.

Do deers hate cinnamon? ›

Mint Scent and Spice Scent

Both deer repellents contain eggs and garlic - substances that by themselves repel deer. However, I Must Garden takes repellency to an even higher level by adding botanical oils from plants that deer won't eat - plants such as peppermint, lemongrass, cinnamon and clove.

Do coffee grounds repel deer? ›

Deer have a strong sense of smell, which means that the bitter smell of coffee grounds can be used to keep deer away from your property. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that coffee grounds repel deer, but ground coffee does exude a bitter odor that can support deterring deer nearby your home.

What do deer hate to walk on? ›

Deer don't like to walk on unstable surfaces. If they make a beeline for certain plants, place a sheet of welded-wire fencing on the ground in their pathway.

How do farmers keep deer away? ›

Fencing. Fencing, the construction of a barrier between the crop and the deer, is the most effective long-term solution to deer damage. The basics of fencing apply to both electric and non-electric fencing. It is important to understand that deer can easily jump a fence 10 feet high, but much prefer not to.

Do deer like lemon balm? ›

Lemon Balm: Repels deer. Deer resistant garden, Deer resistant plants, Garden pests.

Does lemongrass repel deer? ›

Due to the strong aroma and flavor of lemongrass, deer tend to avoid this plant. In instances when food is scarce, however, deer will occasionally graze on lemongrass if nothing else is available.

Is garlic toxic to deer? ›

No, they don't. This is why many gardeners use garlic as a natural deer deterrent. However, if you cannot tolerate the pungent scent of garlic around your home, plants like sage and lavender are also great.

Will deer eat sage? ›

Sage (Salvia spp.)

Deer generally stay away from aromatic herbs and other plants, such as sage, rosemary, and lavender. However, if they do eat one of these plants, they'll likely go for the flowers before the foliage.

Can deer smell a salt lick? ›

Now what? Nothing; deer can smell the salt for miles. They will smell it, crave it and come to you; they need those minerals, guaranteed.

Can deer smell pheromones? ›

Hormones are chemicals in the body that regulate some function. Deer have a Jacobson's organ, or more technically, a “vomeronasal organ,” that transports pheromones to the brain for interpretation.

What plant keeps deer away? ›

Herbs like mint, rosemary, Russian sage and lavender are a good bet, as are peonies, boxwood, onion and garlic. Bitter Taste – Deer tend to avoid yarrow and most ferns, as well as bulbous flowers such as poppies, daffodils and snowdrops.

Do deer hate lavender plants? ›

Generally, deer stay away from aromatic herbs and other plants like Rosemary, Lavender, Salvia, etc. However, if they do decide to take a bite of your plant, it is typically the flowers and not the foliage.

Will mint keep deer away? ›

Mint is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which also includes other deer-resistant herbs like rosemary, basil, and thyme. Mint is also a good choice for a deer-resistant herb garden. The strong scent of mint is off-putting to deer, who will avoid eating plants that smell strongly of mint.

What scares a deer away? ›

A radio, activated by a motion detector can scare off deer. Pie pans, metal cans, or wind chimes suspended by strings make noise when they rattle in the wind, and have also been used to deter damage.

What is poisonous to deer? ›

Common hardy plants that are poisonous or irritating: daffodil (Narcissus), monkshood (Aconitum), bleeding heart (Dicentra), foxglove (Digitalis), spurge (Euphorbia), Lenten and Christmas roses (Helleborus), irises, milkweed (Asclepias), peonies (Paeonia), azaleas and rhododendrons, wisteria and yew (Taxus).

What essential oils do deer hate? ›

Essential Oil Deer Repellent

Add 6 drops of peppermint essential oil and 4 drops of rosemary essential oil to the spray bottle with the vinegar. Tightly close the spray bottle lid and shake to mix the contents together. Spray this mixture onto plants, refraining from spraying anything you plan to eat.

What colors are deer afraid of? ›

They can pick out short (blue) and middle (green) wavelength colors, but they're less sensitive to long wavelength colors such as red and orange. “They're essentially red-green color blind,” said Brian Murphy, a wildlife biologist and the CEO of Quality Deer Management Association.

Do deer eat lemon balm? ›

Lemon Balm: Repels deer. Deer resistant garden, Deer resistant plants, Garden pests.

Can deer smell lavender? ›

Yes, they exist! Deer hate fragrant blooms from certain herbs like lavender and especially sweet-smelling flowers, like peonies.

Do deer like eucalyptus? ›

One more reason we all love it is that the Eucalyptus grows incredibly fast and requires low maintenance. So, you may wonder – do Deer eat Eucalyptus plants? Fortunately, Deer do not favor Eucalyptus trees. Therefore, Eucalyptus trees are deer-resistant and can be grown in areas where growers need to deter Deer.


1. Flowers that deer won't eat - Are they deer proof?
(How To with Doc)
2. Permaculture Food Forest deep dive on support plants, herbs, and deer protection.
(Canadian Permaculture Legacy)
3. Using Herbs in the Landscape
(The Arbor Gate)
4. DEER RESISTANT PLANTS - Factors of Plants Less Favored by Deer
(Plant Vibrations with Devin Wallien)
5. 🦌 ~ Deer resistant ~ Low maintenance Plants ~ 🌱
(Y Garden)
6. These Plants Can Get Rid of Insects, Bedbugs and Mice
(Health Beauty and Lifestyle)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 02/25/2023

Views: 5980

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.