Do Deer Eat Tomatoes

Do Deer Eat Tomatoes and Tomato Plants (How To Prevent Them)

Yes, we know that deers are cute, but there is nothing adorable about them making their way into your beloved garden and making dinner of your cherished tomatoes. What is even more annoying is that they eat both the stems, leaves, and all.

Yes, deer eat tomatoes anywhere they find them, and luckily, there are a few tell-tales that hint if deers are responsible for eating up the tomato plants in your garden or if you are making aspersion against our sweet old deer species.

If you are sure deer are eating your tomatoes, relax because we’ve got simple and effective ways of sorting that problem. Commercial repellents and fencing are 2 of them.

Do Deer Eat Tomatoes and Tomato Plants?

Before we attempt to answer these questions, there are a few interesting facts about deer that you will love to know:

1. Deers are herbivores that feed on almost all kinds of plants, from nuts to acorns, fruit trees, and bushes, and of course, your tomato is part of the menu.

2. A deer can consume nearly 8% of its body daily. This means that a deer weighing 170 pounds can consume about 13 pounds of food daily. Do you now understand why they tend to eat almost everything?

3. Deer can travel up to a mile in search of food each day; you don’t have to live close to the wood before these unwanted visitors come to your garden; they can travel so far in search of food.

4. Deers enjoy a wide array of foods, from peppers to squash, beet greens, cucumbers, beans, grapes, strawberries, and many others. So even if you don’t have tomatoes in your garden, there are still loads of reasons why deers can come calling.

5. Deers are social animals and walk in a group called a herd. There are herds of deer whose members are in their thousands. This means that when deer invade your garden, you are likely not dealing with just 1stray animal.

6. Deers are considered the biggest threat to humans among all mammals in North America; this tells you that deer, once considered wild animals, are now living among humans more or less.

So back to our question, do deer eat tomatoes? Oh, YES, they do, since they are herbivores that eat so many different kinds of plants, tomatoes inclusive. They might not go out of their way in search of tomatoes to eat, but if they find them, they eat.

Deer prefer to eat the leaves and stems of tomatoes, but that doesn’t mean they will soar the tomato fruit either. It’s just that they will eat the greenery more than the fruits.

But do you know that in reality, tomatoes are not good for deers, but one wonders why they eat them in the first place ( perhaps it’s the same reason we drink bottles of soda and bars of chocolates daily when we know they are not good for us)?

Tomato plants contain a toxic compound called solanine, poisonous to deer and other animals. Other plants have this solanine compound, including peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and almost all nightshade family members.

This compound solanine is concentrated mostly in the green part of the tomato plants like the leaves and stems and even in unripe fruits, and if deer eat a lot of these tomato leaves and stems at once, it can lead to serious health challenges for them. However, some tomato leaves and stems here are not problematic for deer.

READ: What Can I Feed The Deer In My Yard?

How To Identify Damage Done By Deer On A Tomato Garden

Even though we know that deer can snack on your tomato plants, so will a good number of other animals like raccoons, Chipmunks, rabbits, and the likes. However, a few things will reveal if deer are responsible for chewing on your tomato plants.

1. If the damage to your tomato plant is to the lower-hanging tomatoes, then the likely culprits should be either raccoons or groundhogs.

2. Tomato hornworms usually defoliated the entire plant, or they might go leaf by leaf but never the fruit. Because they are green and fit perfectly into the greenery, they might stay undetected. Still, if you find dark green droppings or their green caterpillar perched near the tomatoes, then the hornworms are responsible.

3. If the almost ripe or even ripe tomatoes are the ones that were nibbled on towards the top of the plant, then you should suspect squirrels or chipmunks or even birds

4. Rabbits will usually neatly eat the stems and leaves of the tomatoes near the ground level, while voles which usually follow tunnels to people’s gardens, will tear at the stems.

Deer damage to a tomato garden will look like a rabbit attack, but they are not as neat in eating like rabbits. Deer usually eat all the parts of the tomato plant; they can eat a lot in one go. 

So if a lot of the foliage of the leaves gets torn off, with some of the tomatoes nibbled at, then it is likely deer damage. You can confirm if deer attacked your garden by checking for hoof prints in your soil.

How To Prevent Deers From Eating Your Tomato Plants

Deers are persistent feeders, and once they have made a habit of feeding in a place, it will take drastic but not fatal measures to stop them. 

Your best bet is to keep them from feeding on your tomatoes or even the whole garden entirely. The sooner you commence these prevention techniques, the better the chances they are effective.

You can combine a number of these techniques to ensure that deers steer clear of your backyard and garden.

Here are some of the ways you can keep deer away from your tomato plant in your garden:

READ: Does Dawn Dish Soap Keep Deer Away?

1. Use A Deer Repellent

There are so many materials and substances that repel deer from a place, and you can adopt any of them o push deer away from your space. There are 2 main forms of a deer repellent, and they are

a. Contact Repellent

These are the kind of repellent you spray directly on the tomato plant you want to protect so that when deer come to eat the plant, the offensive taste will put them off.

Many home remedies have a very disgusting smell that will serve as contact repellents, including sprays made from putrescent eggs, capsaicin, garlic, cloves, and the like.

b. Area Repellent

These are the kind of repellents you don’t necessarily put on the plant, but all around the area where the plants grow, these repellents also have a very unpleasant odor that will keep deer away. 

They include the urine of deer predators, which gives deer the impression that the predators are around so that they will move away from such places.

Soap in a nylon sock hung near your tomato plants also gives off an odor the deer can stand. There is a lot of deer repellent that we can find all around us, like pet hair and bone tar meal; wind chimes are an of them.

2. Go For Deer Repellent Plants

If you want to keep deer from feeding on your tomato plants, you have to engage in “companion planting,” which is planting your tomatoes with other deer deterrent plants in the same garden. They don’t like the garden when they perceive the toxic or unpleasant plants.

They will move completely from there even if the tomato plants it wants are there. Here are a few of the plants that deer hate that you can plant together with tomatoes in your garden:

  • Garlic
  • Sage
  • Daffodils
  • Poppies
  • Lavender
  • Andromeda
  • Juniper
  • Boxwood
  • Marigold
  • Onion
  • Scallions
  • chives
  • mints
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • basil
  • rosemary

The list goes on.

3. Get A Dog

This night does not seem like a convenient way of keeping deer away from your garden or a good reason to adopt a dog, but who says you can’t kill 2 birds with 1 stone? 

If you love dogs and one to adopt 1, see the nuisance deer cause in your garden as a motivation to speed up the adoption process because deer hate big loud dogs.

Dogs are great for keeping deer out of your garden during the day, but at night you want to adopt other techniques since you want your dog properly sheltered and resting then.

4. Trick The Deer

If deer think they can make a deer of your precious tomato, then you’ve earned the right to be sly with them. Do you know that you can con deer into thinking that their natural enemies are within the vicinity by using The Fake Red Cat Eye or MAGIC CAT Solar Red Eyes: These solar-powered lights create an eerie glow that shines in the dark like those of a real predator.

A plastic Owl or Scarecrow placed strategically in your garden will scare the living daylight out of deer who come around.

5. Motion-Activated Sprinkler Works Too

Deer are capricious and restive; they don’t hesitate to move away from loud noises and lots of movement, especially those they are not familiar with; hence you can use a motion-activated that moves and makes notice to scare them away from your garden, even though you might run the risk of over-wetting your garden. Even though this technique is not sustainable, but is effective in the short run.

6. Get A Deer Netting

A netting around your tomato plants or the whole garden is a great way for deer, not just deer, but other animals like rabbits, away from your plant. 

It is set up in the same way you would set up a fence, only that it should be over the top of the garden so that the deer do not have any chance of gaining access to the plants.

7. Commercial Spray To The Rescue

There are different types of commercial deer repellent spray you can get in gardening stores which you can spray around your backyard to keep deer away.

The beauty of this spray is that it is effective and does not harm this deer in any way. The repellents are just made of a repugnant smell that the sensitive nose of deer cannot stand.

8. Installing A Fence Is Very Effective

A fence around your home or garden provides a very effective barrier against the destructive activities of deer in the garden. Because deer can jump over a short fence, you must install a fence that is not less than 8 feet high.

If the fence is an electric fence, the better because bolts of an electric current daze the deer when they come in contact with the fence, and this will keep them away from ever coming close to the fence again.

Electric fences are best switched on at night because that is the night that most deer come out in search of food. If you are not working on a budget, you can also go for a separate fence that you install around each plant. They all work well in keeping deer off your plants.

9. Ultrasonics

Many ultrasonic products are sure to keep deer off your yard when you install them. Ultrasonic products emit a high-frequency sound that our human ears cannot hear, but only deer and other sensitive animals can hear these sounds, and because deers are skittish, they will run away from such places.


Yes, deer love tomato plants, especially the stem and the leaves, even though it is not too good for them. You can, however, adopt a few of the many techniques that there are to prevent them from eating the tomatoes and other crops in the garden.

Ultrasonic deer repellent, motion-activated sprinklers, and commercial repellents are some effective techniques that kick deer out of your garden.

Helpful Article You Can Read:

We trust this article helped you know if deer do eat tomatoes. You may also want to check out What to Do with Deer Poop in the Yard?

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