Do Deer Eat Nasturtiums?

Amidst the vibrant tapestry of garden flora, nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp.) stand as a beacon of color and charm. With their brilliant, trumpet-shaped flowers and distinctive, lily pad-like leaves, nasturtiums have long graced gardens with their ornamental beauty and culinary potential. Yet, as these cheerful blooms find their place in landscapes, a question arises: Do deer have a penchant for nasturtiums, or do they, in fact, steer clear? In our exploration of the intricate dance between deer and nasturtiums, we embark on a journey to understand the dynamics of this relationship.

Nasturtium Overview

Before we delve into the world of deer interactions, let’s acquaint ourselves with the allure of nasturtiums:

  • Nature’s Color Palette: Nasturtiums are renowned for their vivid and eye-catching flowers, which come in an array of hues, including fiery oranges, sunny yellows, and rich reds. Their aesthetic appeal makes them a favored choice in gardens and containers.
  • Edible Treasures: Beyond their visual splendor, nasturtiums offer a culinary delight. Their leaves and flowers boast a peppery, slightly spicy flavor, making them a unique addition to salads, garnishes, and even pickles.

The Deer Dilemma: Understanding Deer Feeding Habits

As we explore the deer-nasturtium relationship, it’s essential to unravel the dietary preferences of these graceful yet opportunistic herbivores:

  • Cuisine of Choice: Deer have a diverse diet, often selecting plants with tender, succulent foliage. They are known to browse on a variety of vegetation, including shrubs, flowers, and young trees, which sometimes leads to damage in gardens and landscapes.
  • Feasting Habits: Understanding deer feeding habits is key to comprehending their potential interaction with nasturtiums. While they may consume a wide range of plants, deer tend to show a preference for those with a mild or sweet taste.
  • Seasonal Variations: The likelihood of deer grazing on particular plants can vary with the seasons. During periods of abundant natural forage, deer may be less inclined to sample garden offerings.
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As we journey deeper into this exploration, we will uncover whether nasturtiums fall within the palate of deer and what factors influence these herbivores’ choices in the presence of these colorful garden gems.

Deer and Nasturtiums: Do They Feast or Flee?

The pivotal question in our quest revolves around the compatibility of deer and nasturtiums:

  • Mixed Reactions: Gardeners’ experiences and observations regarding deer interactions with nasturtiums can be diverse. While some may report deer occasionally nibbling on nasturtium foliage, others find their nasturtiums relatively untouched.
  • Taste and Odor as Deterrents: Nasturtiums have some natural defenses that may discourage deer. Their peppery taste can be unappealing to herbivores, and the pungent aroma of nasturtium foliage might act as a natural repellent.
  • Variability Across Regions: The likelihood of deer grazing on nasturtiums can also vary by region and local deer populations. In areas with abundant natural forage, deer may be less inclined to indulge in garden treats.

Factors That Influence Deer Behavior

Understanding why deer make certain choices in the garden setting is essential for a nuanced perspective:

  • Dietary Options: The availability of other food sources in the surrounding environment plays a significant role. When deer have a rich assortment of natural forage, they may be less inclined to venture into gardens.
  • Time of Year: Seasonal variations influence deer behavior. In spring and summer, when lush vegetation is plentiful, garden plants may receive less attention. However, in winter when forage is scarce, deer might explore a wider range of plants.
  • Local Deer Population: The abundance of deer in a particular area can impact their grazing patterns. High deer populations may lead to more frequent encounters with garden plants.
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Strategies for Protecting Nasturtiums from Deer

For gardeners seeking to safeguard their nasturtiums from potential deer browsing, several strategies can prove effective:

  • Deer-Resistant Planting: Surrounding nasturtiums with plants that deer tend to avoid can create a protective barrier. Examples of deer-resistant plants include lavender, rosemary, and salvia.
  • Fencing: Installing deer-resistant fencing around your garden or individual plants can provide a physical barrier to keep deer at bay.
  • Repellents: Utilizing deer repellents that emit scents or tastes disliked by deer can deter them from approaching your nasturtiums.
  • Companion Planting: Experimenting with companion plants that deer favor less can make your garden less appealing to these herbivores.


In our quest to uncover the mysteries of deer and nasturtium interactions, we find a nuanced relationship where the outcome may vary. While nasturtiums possess characteristics that could potentially deter deer, including their peppery flavor and distinctive odor, the behavior of these herbivores is influenced by a multitude of factors.

Gardeners must remain vigilant and be prepared to employ protective measures if they wish to preserve the beauty and flavor of their nasturtiums. Whether deer feast or flee from these vibrant blooms, the garden remains a dynamic arena where nature’s balance unfolds, reminding us of the intricate dance between the wild and the cultivated.