Asparagus is an easily-grown perennial plant species that are an easy target food for many wild animals. Gardeners often wonder do deer eat asparagus and what can be done to prevent it from happening.
Read on to learn all about the foraging habits of deer, and how to protect your asparagus garden from unwanted attention.
Do Deer Eat Asparagus?
Deer do eat asparagus, but not very often. It’s not exactly on the top of their list when invading someone’s garden, as there are much tastier plants with higher nutritional values out there for them to graze on.
Asparagus is actually a great food for deer, even if it is a bit chewy because it contains plenty of calcium (24 milligrams per 100 grams). Deer need calcium to keep their antlers healthy.
Aside from deer, the most common asparagus pests are pocket gophers, rabbits, and insects.
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Is It Safe for Deer to Eat Asparagus Stalks?
While the stalks of asparagus are generally safe to eat, the fruits and the stems of the asparagus are actually toxic. The level of toxicity is low, but it can cause contact dermatitis when touched while eating the berries can cause gastrointestinal problems.
However, it must be understood that the level of toxicity is so low (while the toxic principle is still unknown) that an animal would have to eat incredible amounts of asparagus berries or the stem to cause serious poisoning.
It’s likely that deer eating the asparagus in your garden won’t come unto any harm because a) they’re most likely only eating the stalks, and b) even if they do eat the berries, they won’t eat enough to suffer serious symptoms.
Will Asparagus Plants Regrow After Deer Eat Them?
You’ll be happy to learn that your asparagus can regrow after deer eat them – although you may have to wait until the following growing season depending on the severity of the damage and provided the crown remains intact.
As a perennial plant, an asparagus crown can keep producing an annual crop for up to 15 years so you won’t have to replant the asparagus if deer eat them. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should allow deer to turn your garden into a buffet.
Are There Deer-Resistant Asparagus Varieties
All asparagus varieties have toxic berries and stems, but one plant, called the asparagus fern, is entirely toxic.
This plant isn’t edible and it’s only grown as decoration because it contains saponins. Asparagus fern is incredibly bitter to the taste (making it a great deterrent for animals) and is also known to irritate the digestive system.
How to Keep Deer from Eating Asparagus
One good thing about asparagus is that it doesn’t take up too much space and you can set up a simple wire cage around it to keep it safe from deer. Wire cages are great for fruits and vegetables that are small and stay close to the ground.
This is a great solution if you only have a small crop of asparagus, but if you have a great number of asparagus, plus other crops that might attract deer, then you’re going to have to invest in a more substantial form of garden protection.
Keeping Deer Out of Your Garden
For a long-term deer-repelling strategy for your garden – especially if you live in a rural location that is regularly frequented by deer – then I recommend either a sturdy form of fencing, or else using tree guards, scaring them, shooting them, or using repellents.
Trapping deer isn’t recommended mostly for two reasons; firstly, deer are strong animals and you could get injured during the process. Secondly, you can’t just release the captured animal anywhere you want – you could disrupt the ecological system if you release them in the wrong spot.
These metal cages are a great way to keep deer from damaging your trees. Male deer are especially well known for rubbing their antlers against trees as they shed the top layer. This can damage the trunk of your tree.
Installing tree guards can also prevent them from reaching the fruit as they can’t approach the tree close enough to use it for climbing support.
However, this isn’t an effective method for asparagus (unless you have only one asparagus plant), and since tree guards aren’t cheap, it can work out to be costly if you have many trees in your garden.
Raising a fence is by far the most effective method of keeping deer out of your garden. While they’re great jumpers, deer aren’t omnipotent creatures and they can’t jump more than 8 feet in height.
Installing an 8-foot-tall fence will most certainly prevent deer from entering your garden.
There is a downside, though – fences aren’t cheap, especially if you have a very large garden. While you don’t have to install a sturdy metal fence, a fence made from cheaper materials is still expensive if your garden is large enough.
Frightening the Intruders
Not only do deer eat asparagus, but there are other wild animals that should be considered a threat too. Rabbits and pocket gophers are two animals that won’t be stopped by a fence because they are agile and great diggers.
A solution that’s effective with all three species is frightening them. None of these animals will fight when challenged – they’ll always run away, and there are easy ways to challenge them.
Firstly, the simplest way of scaring them off is to let your dog into your yard. No deer, rabbit, or gopher will stay in a garden with a dog inside.
The other option is installing a motion sensor and connecting it to your sprinklers. Whenever it’s activated by an intruder, the sensor will kick off the sprinklers and soak the animal, scaring it off.
Shooting the Deer
While shooting the deer is definitely an option, the legality of it is questionable. This depends on the region you live in, as different regions have different laws regarding big game hunting, gun ownership, and hunting season.
Consult your local authority and nearby hunting club before doing anything so drastic.
Making Home-Made Deer Repellent
Repellents are the last method of keeping deer away from your garden, and I have a quick and easy method for making your own. It’s so simple and is easily as effective as buying commercial deer repellent. It will work around any plant or vegetable, from hydrangea right through to asparagus.
Smells That Repel Deer
Smells often used in commercial deer repellent are predator urine (although the effects of these repellents are questionable at best), putrid eggs (the most effective smell), hot sauce, vinegar, garlic, as well as the smell of human hair.
It must be noted that repellents aren’t a viable long-term strategy – they only work as an addition to any of the methods discussed above. If you use it as your only strategy, the deer will become used to it with time.
How to Make Home-Made Deer Repellent
Quick and easy, here’s how to make your own deer repellent!
All you need is two putrid eggs (cooked) and two gallons of water. You can also use any other ingredient mentioned above aside from human hair – that is intended to be spread individually, not as a mixture with water.
Step 1 – Grind the Solid Ingredients
Solid ingredients, such as eggs and garlic, need to be ground in a blender before mixing them with water. You don’t need to do this with liquid ingredients.
Step 2 – Mix with Water
Mix the ingredients with 2 gallons of water and filter all solids from the solution. Pour this mix into a sprayer.
Step 3 – Spray on Plants
All that’s left to do is spray this onto your plants – the mixture will probably smell disgusting. Don’t forget that you have to refresh it every two weeks as it will evaporate. You’ll also need to reapply it after a shower of rain as it is easily washed away.
Verdict: Do Deer Eat Asparagus
Deer eat asparagus, but this behavior is seen rarely. Asparagus doesn’t offer as many nutrients as some other plants often found in gardens. Despite this, deer won’t say no to an open field of asparagus, which is why you need to know how to keep deer from eating asparagus in your garden.
Deter them by building a fence, frightening them, and using repellents. Trapping them and using lethal methods are often dangerous, not to mention that they’re mostly illegal.