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Not only do deer eat celery stalks and leaves, but they also eat a lot of other vegetables, and you’ll need to protect what you’ve planted. The sight of deer munching away on the plants in your garden is one that can haunt gardeners.
You’ve spent all this time trying to get those plants to grow and produce what you’d hoped to have for your own meals, only for these animals to come along and tear everything up.
Now, it’s possible you’re actually planning to feed celery to deer, possibly over winter as a way to give them a supplemental nutrition source. That’s a nice gesture, but be careful. You can give celery to deer, but it must not be their only food source.
In fact, vegetables as a whole should not be their only food source as they will not get enough nutrition to be healthy. Regardless of why you’re curious if deer eat celery stalks and leaves, you don’t want to leave celery out in the open in your garden. It’s very attractive to deer and can lead to problems if the eating isn’t controlled.
Table of contents
Can You Give Celery to Deer?
First, if you’re planning to help keep deer in your area alive over the winter by giving them an extra food source, then technically, you can include celery. However, it’s not recommended as the sole source of food.
In fact, feeding deer is generally not recommended and it’s actually illegal in some cases. Read up on your local laws and guidelines before you feed deer in your area!
The Bangor Daily News says that it’s very common for people to put out vegetable trimmings for deer, but that will potentially make the deer starve to death because the trimmings do not have enough calories or nutrients by themselves. It’s also difficult to create a mix yourself, even if you have other foods like potatoes and oats.
Instead, the Bangor Daily News suggests using a commercially available deer feed mix available at agricultural feed stores to give the deer a complete diet. If you choose to feed deer, keep the feeding area well away from roads and other people’s backyards.
Are There Deer-Resistant Celery Varieties?
Deer and celery are an odd mix. Most sources agree that deer will eat celery to an extent. Whether deer love celery or merely tolerate it when they’re hungry is not that clear, but they do get into the plants and eat them at least when there’s little else about.
Occasionally you’ll see a broad claim that all celery is deer-resistant with nothing to back it up.
If you’re going to plant celery in your garden, then, you need to assume that deer will eat it. The same goes for celery added to a compost heap or garbage pile; wrap the garbage well and keep fresh piles of vegetables on a compost heap covered (use an enclosed bin, if possible).
However, keep your eye on gardening and seed news because plant breeders are forever creating cultivars that increase or decrease certain qualities in plants. You may one day hear of varieties of celery that are less palatable to deer on their own.
How to Keep Deer From Eating Your Celery Plants
If you’ve had trouble in the past with deer eating the celery in your yard, you can approach prevention from a few angles.
One is exclusion, where you keep the deer out of your garden. This would take the form of adding a tall fence to stop the deer from even getting into the yard in the first place.
Remember that deer are jumpers, so that fence needs to be taller than the average jump while still being within legal specifications according to your city or county. Those governments will often put height limits on fences.
Another option is repelling the deer and making them not want to go into your yard. Some repellents are artificial, such as scents, items you hang in your yard, and so on. Others are natural, such as planting a bunch of hedges that deer hate to go near all around the garden.
In that last case, you need to be sure there’s no room for the deer to land if they just try to jump over the hedges. Modern Harvest suggests planting herbs like mint and dill to drive off deer. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension suggests that any pungent-smelling, bitter-tasting, or rough-feeling plant will help.
A third option is diverting the deer’s attention, but you need to do this carefully.
The concept is simple: Plant things that deer adore and that you are willing to sacrifice so that the deer leave the rest of your garden alone. For example, deer love roses and pansies, so having something to satisfy them so they don’t browse further into your yard might help.
But this creates two additional issues that you’ll have to watch out for.
First, having something that attracts deer will, of course, attract deer. If deer are already a problem, that might not be such a big concern for you.
But having things that are attractive to deer could also increase the numbers of deer coming by, and when the attractive stuff is gone, you’ll need a plan to protect what’s left. If you do try that diversion option, be sure you have repellents in place in the part of the garden that you want to protect, too.
Does Celery Grow Back if a Deer Eats It?
Unfortunately, once celery is damaged by deer and eaten away, it’s gone. Celery is a biennial plant, meaning that technically, the plant has a two-year life cycle, and if the roots are left alone, it will grow in different stages over two years (greenery one year and flowers/seeds the next).
However, in the garden, it’s treated as an annual because humans just want those leafy stalks and don’t need flowers or seeds. If deer chomp on a celery plant, it’s gone, and you should dig up the base of the plant that’s in the soil.
Verdict: Is Celery Deer-Resistant?
Celery is not really deer-resistant. Some sources claim it is loved by deer while others claim it is only generally liked but not preferred. Either way, that results in garden damage that cuts into the harvest you were hoping to get.
If you’re planning to grow celery in the garden, you need to protect it from deer if deer are a risk where you live.
Exclusion is easiest, but if you’re limited in what you can do there, repelling them with plants they don’t like is the next step to take. Keep a close eye on your garden because once you start planting edible plants, you’re going to have competition from nature.
Deer are among the most voracious competitors, so don’t assume you won’t ever see them if they’re known to travel in your area.