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Asparagus is one of the most delicious and prized perennial vegetables you can grow. A productive asparagus bed takes three or four years to produce a harvest, but this gourmet vegetable is definitely worth the wait! But do deer eat asparagus or is it deer resistant?
Is your asparagus bed safe from these beautiful garden visitors?
In This Guide:
Do Deer Eat Asparagus In the Garden?
Asparagus is one of the best vegetables to grow in a deer-resistant garden. Not only will deer avoid eating asparagus, but this plant can also serve as an excellent barrier to protect more vulnerable vegetable plants.
Asparagus is a remarkable plant that grows from a crown – an intricate and widespread root network that sends up shoots over a wide area. Harvest the delicate shoots, or spears, in spring. They’re young and tender – a real delicacy!
Luckily, deer do not seem to enjoy asparagus spears as much as we do for some reason! The stems and ferns of asparagus are not toxic to deer, but they will shun the tender shoots in favor of other food sources.
Later in the year, leave the last few asparagus spears to bolt to enable the crown to draw in energy for the following year’s crop. Each spear grows rapidly into a tall, fern-like plant, creating a 5-foot-tall screen of greenery.
Deer don’t seem interested in eating these airy leaves and tend to leave them alone. Bolted asparagus is useful as a screen to hide other vegetables that deer might find flavorsome.
How to Keep Deer Out of Your Asparagus Plants
While deer will not eat asparagus, these beautiful garden visitors can do considerable damage as they pass through in search of food! It can be heartbreaking to see your delicate asparagus spears destroyed by a group of wandering deer.
Luckily, deer are unlikely to permanently damage asparagus plants, as the crown of the plant will send up more spears. To maximize your harvest, it is a good idea to protect the asparagus bed from deer during the spring and early summer.
The best way to keep deer out of your asparagus plants is to use electric fencing posts. The advantage to this is that they can be placed temporarily around your asparagus bed during harvest season, then removed for the remainder of the year.
Deer in rural areas can also be deterred using noisy or colorful objects, but these are no match for deer that are used to living in and around people.
Can Deer Eat Asparagus, or Is It Bad for Them?
The spears and fronds of asparagus plants are not toxic and can be eaten by deer. However, deer don’t seem particularly keen on the taste of this gourmet vegetable, so you will find that they are unlikely to eat it. Some gardeners report that deer develop a taste for tender young asparagus spears, but these will not harm deer if eaten.
The berries of asparagus contain sapogenins that are mildly toxic to both deer and humans. The berries commonly appear later in summer on tall asparagus fronds. They cause a mild digestive upset if eaten, and deer tend to avoid them.
Verdict: Is Asparagus Deer Resistant?
The good news is that asparagus is one of the best plants to grow in a deer-resistant vegetable garden! Deer rarely eat these perennial plants and can provide a valuable barrier for other vegetables. And if your asparagus does get nibbled or trampled by deer, it will quickly bounce back and send up new shoots!
So, if you’re planning a deer-resistant vegetable plot, an asparagus bed should be on your list. You only need the patience to wait three or more years for your first harvest!