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Do deer eat watermelon fruit and rinds? What about the plants, do deer eat watermelon plants? Yes, maybe, and potentially.

Deer like sweet fruits like apples and persimmons, and they’ve been known to dig into a watermelon occasionally. They don’t like bitter foods, so if the rind is bitter, they may not touch it. But if it’s attached to that sweet fruit, you may also see them eat the rind.

The plant parts are another story, as they have textures that deer aren’t fond of. Watermelon leaves and stems are covered in prickly hairs. Deer are sensitive to funny textures so they may leave your plants alone. Overall, you have to assume watermelon plants are not deer-resistant. Often, the plant gets damaged in the eating process!

Do Deer Eat Watermelon Rinds?

A young female deer eating a green watermelon rind
A deer eating a green watermelon rind

Eating juicy, delicious watermelon comes with a trash problem in the form of green rinds. You can take the white portion and make watermelon pickles, but the green portion is pretty much inedible for humans.

With fall and winter approaching and leading to a scarcity of food for the deer in your area, you may think giving the rinds to the deer as supplemental food might be nice.

Deer will eat watermelon rinds to an extent if the rinds aren’t bitter; deer don’t like bitter foods, but they do like sweeter foods like the fruit of the watermelon. If the rinds are on the sweeter side, deer might eat them.

But as you’d suspect, there’s a problem. Deers need well-rounded diets with lots of nutrition, and watermelon, both the fruit and the rind, does not have everything the deer needs to survive.

If you’re concerned about the health of the deer in your area over winter, contact your local wildlife extension for help.

Do Deer Eat Watermelon Plants?

Watermelon plants – not the fruit, but the foliage and stems – have leaves that have a somewhat rough texture. The stems and vines are also covered with a layer of hairlike structures. Both of these make watermelon plants unappetizing to deer, who aren’t keen on eating things with rough textures.

However, be aware that if there is nothing else to eat and the deer in your yard is starving, it may still try to eat the leaves anyway to feed itself. The plants are not toxic to deer, so the animals would still consider them edible enough if faced with food scarcity.

If you find that something has been gnawing on the leaves and stems of your watermelon plants, you can contact a nursery or garden center to ask about identification. If you live near a university agricultural extension, check out their website; it should have information on common local pests.

Do Watermelon Plants Grow Back If a Deer Eats Them?

A beautiful watermelon plant with fruit
A beautiful watermelon!

Whether a watermelon plant grows back after a deer nibbles on it depends on how much of the plant was eaten. If the deer got one or two leaves, you’d still have your watermelon plant for the season. If the deer chewed up most of the plant, it’s not coming back.

Watermelon plants are annuals, so once that plant is gone, you’d have to plant a new one and take more precautions against deer getting into your yard.

If it’s still early enough in the season, or if you have a long growing season, that may allow you to have watermelons still. But if it’s too late in the growing season, you won’t have time to grow another plant.

You can see why it’s so frustrating to have deer eat what you try to grow for yourself!

How Do I Keep Deer From Eating My Watermelon?

You’re not going to be able to stop deer from eating watermelon fruit if they can reach the plant. Even if things in your yard are more attractive to the deer, they can still break open a watermelon fruit or two anyway if the fruits are right in front of them.

You need to keep the deer away from the watermelon plants to begin with, either by excluding deer from your yard or by making it unpleasant for the deer to reach the plants.

You can always try enclosing your yard with a deer fence or, if the yard is huge, enclosing the section with the fruit and vegetable garden with deer fencing.

Another option is placing netting over the plants that prevent the deer from chewing on the fruit. However, that may not stop the deer from stomping on the fruit to open it if they can see and reach it.

If your city or county (or HOA) does not allow a tall enough fence to keep out deer, you may need to combine fencing – using the tallest fencing allowed in your area – with barrier plantings of things that deer abhor.

These can include flowers that are toxic to deer, which the deer will not want to eat, and plants with rough, prickly textures that deer prefer to avoid. You essentially want to make the deer realize that trying to get to your watermelon plants just won’t be worth it.

Verdict: Are Watermelons Deer-Resistant?

Watermelons would not be considered deer-resistant because deer do eat watermelon fruit and rinds. You’d have to plant watermelons in an area protected from deer to avoid having the animals decide that juicy-looking melon would make a great snack.

Deer can be tough to deal with if you don’t want them eating the watermelons that you’re trying to grow for yourself. If you want them to stay away, look into exclusion methods like fencing preventing them from reaching the plants.

If you don’t want to use that method or can’t, for whatever reason, you can also use plants that deer hate as a barrier that makes it difficult for the deer to get to your fruit and vegetable garden.

And, if you’re trying to feed deer over the winter instead of keeping them away during summer, you can give them watermelon, but not in large amounts. A good commercial deer feed is best. Keep in mind that it is illegal to feed deer in some areas. Check your local regulations before doing so!

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