Do Deer Eat Potatoes? Everything You Need To Know

Deer looking for potatoes to eat

Even though these animals are quite common, many people have no idea if deer eat potatoes or not!

This guide will break down if they like potatoes, the situations where they’ll try eating them, and how you can stop them.

Do Deer Eat Potatoes?

There’s nothing more frustrating than caring for a garden, only to have animals ravage it during the night. There are many possible garden raiders, such as rabbits, woodchucks, squirrels, voles and deer, and all of these animals can quickly undo months of hard work.

Deer, those majestic and sweet creatures of the forest, can be absolute terrors when it comes to destroying a garden. Not only will they eat things like lettuce, beets, carrot tops, strawberries and beans, but they will also trample your plants into oblivion.

If you have potatoes in your garden, you may be wondering if deer eat potatoes or not. Fortunately, potatoes are something that most deer tend to avoid.

For one thing, potatoes are root vegetables, and most deer won’t bother digging up potatoes when there are other garden treats that are much easier to eat. However, if food is scarce, or if the deer are particularly hungry, then they will eat anything, including potatoes.

Strangely enough, even though most deer avoid the trouble of digging up regular potatoes, they will often think nothing of digging for beets and sweet potatoes. In general, however, your potatoes and many other root vegetables are fairly safe from marauding deer.

Do Deer Eat Potato Plants?

We’ve already covered that deer typically won’t eat potatoes unless they’re very hungry. The thing with potatoes and other kinds of root vegetables is that while the most edible part of the plant is under the ground, the leaves of the plant are above the ground.

Will deer eat this part of your potatoes? Let’s find out.

For the most part, deer will avoid eating the entire potato plant, and that includes the leaves.

In fact, there are not many animals that will eat the tops of your potato plants. Animals, such as voles and raccoons, will eat the actual potato but will avoid the leaves. However, as we mentioned before, a hungry deer will eat just about anything, so in certain conditions, the leaves of your potatoes are fair game. In general though, deer will totally avoid potato tops.

There are a few reasons why deer usually won’t eat any part of the potato plant. First of all, as we discussed earlier, it’s usually too much of an effort for most deer to bother digging up the root part of the potato. 

Secondly, even though the tops of potatoes may look inviting, they actually have a texture that most deer don’t really care for. When given the option between other kinds of tasty, tender leaves in your garden and the more tough texture of potato leaves, deer are almost always going to choose the tastier plants.

Probably the most significant reason why deer avoid eating potato plants is that the leaves are actually toxic to them. Potatoes are part of the nightshade family, and plants in this family contain a toxic chemical called solanine. Solanine, especially when exposed to sunlight, acts as a natural insecticide and fungicide that protects the plant from insects and fungal invasion. This chemical gives the potato tops a taste that deer dislike.

How To Keep Deer From Eating Potatoes In Your Garden

Even though most deer won’t eat potatoes that you have on your property, this doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down completely. Hungry deer and other animals will eat all parts of your potatoes if they are driven to it, so it’s a good idea to take any steps that are necessary in order to keep deer from destroying your plants.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the things that may work if you’re trying to stop deer from eating your precious potatoes.

1. Try Companion Planting

Companion planting is an old fashioned trick that you can try. This kind of planting entails planting things that are either deer-resistant or deer-repellent near your potato plants and other tempting garden items.

Companion plants you may want to try include lavender, garlic, poppies, sage and daffodils. This method doesn’t always stop deer from eating potatoes, but it’s often more effective when used along with another method.

2. Offend Their Sense of Smell

You might appreciate the fresh, clean scent of a bar of soap, but most deer don’t. To use this method, take a bar of scented soap with the wrapper still on. Poke a few holes in the wrapper, place it into a piece of nylon stocking and hang it up near the perimeter of your garden. The theory is that deer will be repelled by the smell of the soap and decide to go elsewhere instead of eating your potatoes. In order for this trick to have a chance of working, you will need to place several bars of soap in strategic spots around your garden.

Creating an offensive spray may also work. Combine egg yolks and water and place the mixture into a pressure sprayer. Spray the perimeter of your garden with this deer-repelling concoction. It usually takes about five gallons of water mixed with a dozen egg yolks to cover an acre of land.

Another weird hack you can try is to spread human hair around the area where your potatoes are. Where can you get enough hair to make this trick work? Most barber shops and hair salons are quite happy to give away the hair that they collect during the day. We admit that asking for bags of hair may be a little uncomfortable, but many people find that this method is worth the effort.

3. Put Up A Barrier

You may not be too thrilled with the thought of putting up an unsightly barrier around your potatoes, but in some cases, doing so may be the most reliable method at your disposal. 

What kind of barriers are we talking about? There are certain types of netting that’s known to be fairly effective against deer that are trying to eat potatoes, but it usually needs to be used along with a secondary method.

Some people choose to put up fencing around their garden, although this is often a last resort because a lot of gardeners don’t like the look of fencing. Fences range in styles from wire fencing and chain link fencing to traditional wooden fences and even electric fencing. Go with the one that best matches your budget and aesthetic sense.


Deer don’t like potatoes, but they will eat them when desperate. That’s why it’s important to understand what drives them to snack on these foods, and know how to keep them out.

If you’re having trouble with deer eating your potatoes, send us a message. We’ll be happy to give you some feedback and additional tips to try!

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