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Do Deer Eat Basil? (Read This First!)

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Many of us enjoy growing our herbs in our gardens. And you may also be scared of deers damaging the plants in the garden. Let’s be frank! There is really no plant that is deer-resistant. 

If there is a scarcity of food, a deer would eat everything available. However, are you wondering if deers eat basil or not? 

If you are wondering about this, then you are in the right place. Today we are here to have a detailed discussion on whether deers eat basil or not. So, without a further due, let’s start!

Do deer eat basil?

Deers do not eat basil. Basil is one of those aromatic herbs that deers would love to avoid. However, one thing about deers is that they are quite adaptive. Therefore, if they are hungry and can’t find anything to eat, they may end up eating basil and other deer-resistant plants.   

The heaviest browsing by the deers is done from October to February. It is known to us that animals like deers and rabbits avoid highly aromatic herbs. Herbs like sage, basil, and lavender are usually avoided by deers. 

However, deers are highly adaptable. If there is not enough food source around them, they will not hesitate to eat basil and other plants.    

Sweet basil:

Sweet basil is not consumed by deers. Deers have a highly sensitive smelling sense. Therefore, they will avoid any herb or plant that has an aromatic smell. The same goes for sweet basil. From pizzas to pesto, sweet basils compliment literally everything. 

Fresh basil has an amazing smell. You wouldn’t even necessarily chop them before adding them; you can simply roughly tear them and add to your dishes. 

However, deers will most likely resist the basil plants if there are other food options available. Such as, apples, blackberries, broccoli, cabbage etc.   

Greek basil:

Greek basil is a staple for pesto sauces. Apart from that they are also used in tomato sauces, pasta sauces and pizzas. You can also add younger greek basil leaves to your salads. They give a flavorsome addition to the salad. 

And if the basil is self-grown in your garden, then it has no comparison. However, greek basils are also not eaten by deers. After all, they belong to the aromatic herbs family. 

For instance, they are considered inedible for deers. However, scarcity of food may cause them to eat your greek basils too. You never know!      

African blue basil:

African blue basil is high in vitamin A and C. It also has antioxidants that boosts the immune system and helps in digestion of protein. Additionally, they also promote vitamin K in your body.    

It also has various medicinal uses. African blue basil is also best suited for fresh flavoring and garnishing in dishes. However, these basils are a no-no for deers. 

No matter how appetizing they look, they would still have a strong herby smell to them. This is something the deers would enjoy the least. Therefore, the chances are high that deers will avoid eating them.   

Holy basil:

Holy basil. Well, the name says a lot. However, apart from being used in different rituals these basils also have multiple medicinal uses. 

It can help you protect you from infections, help you control your blood sugar level, keep cholesterol in control and protect your stomach. 

Apart from these, it is a great remedy for cold and fever. It’s generally considered as an adaptogen that helps your body deal with stress. 

However, with no exception holy basil is also not consumed by deers. However, if they cannot find enough food sources, they may not think twice before striking on your holy basil plants.        

Do deer like to eat basil leaves and plants?

Deers do not like to eat basil leaves or plants. However, they are adaptive animals. They can have a tendency to eat any plants that are available. Usually, their diet consists of apples, broccolis, acorns, leafy vegetables etc. These are some foods that deers enjoy eating.   

Moreover, their diets may change depending on the region and weather. The weather has a great impact on their diet. If they cannot find their regular food, they may attempt to eat your basil leaves and plants. 

Why don’t deer like basil?

Basils have a strong herby smell, which is why deers don’t like basil.  Basil is a great ingredient for medicinal uses, making pesto, sauces and even salads. Apart from that, you can also make essential oils using basil. Additionally, these oils can be used to deter and prevent insects. 

The strong smell is exactly what keeps animals and insects away from the plants. You can also apply basil essential oil in order to prevent insects.  

Basils have an additional flavor to the dish and give off a fresh smell. The fresh and strong smell is exactly why deers do not like basil. Other herbs like sage, dill, thyme are also disliked by deers.  

Is basil deer resistant? 

Basil can keep deer away however, it can’t be called deer resistant. Deers are well known for their adaptable habits. They will eat almost anything that is available near them, if they are facing any food scarcity. However, in most cases, they are to avoid herbs like basil. 

But, you cannot use them as deer-resistant plants. However, insects like japanese beetles, aphids, slugs are most commonly known basil pests. 

Other than them, you may also notice whiteflies, spider mites, caterpillars etc. Moreover, the deers may strike on your homely basil plants if they cannot find enough food around.

How to keep deer away from basil plants?

Deers can be scary at times. They can eat almost anything and everything if necessary. They are one of the most adaptable animals to ever exist on this planet. Here are a few things you can do to keep deer away from basil plants: 

Planting deer-resistant plants: 

There are only a few deer-resistant plants. Other than that, they would consume almost anything. However, plants with a few characteristics are usually avoided by deers. 

Plants that are prickly, foliage or brambles. Plants that have furry leaves. Also, plants that have a strong smell, i.e sage, rosemary, garlic etc. They usually rely on their sense of smell. Therefore, they are most likely to avoid such plants.        

You can also plant plants that are poisonous. Plants that have a thick sap, and have toxins in them are usually avoided by deers. 

However, if you are planting them, make sure your pets aren’t consuming them at any cost. 

Using mass plantation: 

Mass plantation is a technique that can be used to keep deers away. You can do mass plantations using the plants that deers do not like.   

The deers will eat the flowers existing on the outer part and still leave the flowers which are on the inner part of the plantation. 

Installing a tall fence: 

A great way to keep deers away from basil plants is to install a tall fence. A tall fence is the best bet you can have. However, deers are known to jump higher places. Therefore, to have a deer-proof fence, you’d need to build a fence that is at least 8-12 feet high.  

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Planting trees and shrubs inside the fence: 

To demotivate the deers from jumping over a shorter fence, you can plant trees and shrubs inside the fence. If they aren’t able to see a clear landing area, they won’t attempt the jump.    

The trees act more like a second fence without being built. 

Spraying deer resistant: 

If you don’t have an option of putting up a fence, you can get yourself deer-resistant sprays. Just simply spray them around or on the plants and they should keep deers away.   

The scent will most likely keep deers away from your basil plants.      

I Must Garden Deer Repellent: Spice Scent Deer Spray for Gardens & Plants – Natural Ingredients – 32oz Ready to Use

Final thoughts

Deers do not generally eat basil. However, a hungry deer would eat almost anything and everything. However, they would dislike the smell of basil as it smells pretty strong. They are more into leafy vegetables and fresh fruits. Additionally, they won’t think twice before eating basil if necessary.

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