If you have deer that frequent your yard, you likely have received some plant damage from their grazing. In some areas, it is not uncommon for a garden to be decimated over night from hungry herd. While it may seem that deer have no particular favorites when it comes to vegetation, they actually do have preferences for certain plants over others.
Deer will eat almost anything plant-related, especially when food is scarce. This includes marigolds. However, there is some good news regarding this plant. Michigan State University has developed a comprehensive list of plants that are rarely, seldom, or frequently damaged by deer. You can reference the list here. The marigold (tagetes spp.) is classified by the university as a plant that is rarely damaged by deer.
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If your yard is visited by deer often, we suggest planting just one marigold in an well-traveled location to test the deer’s taste buds. If a couple of weeks pass and there are no bites, you can then plant more. Again, there is no guarantee that the deer will always leave the marigolds undisturbed.
Keep in mind that some marigolds produce a more pungent smell than others. The powerful smell of marigolds, when pronounced, is what is believed to deter deer from these plants. You should consider smell as you purchase marigolds when deer are a concern in your yard. As most hunters know, the sense of smell of deer is outstanding. There is no doubt that a deer will be able to pick up on an unpleasant smell before feasting.
The only way to completely ward off deer is to build a tall fence around the yard or the garden area. This, of course, is not a practical solution for many given the cost or potential eyesore it creates if cheap looking garden fencing is used. You may want to consider these other solutions to keep away deer so that you can maintain your beautiful yard with less worry about deer making your plants a nightly buffet.