Do Deer Eat Potato Leaves?

bart1(6/7 Northern VA)March 14, 2011

For the first time, I'm planting some potatoes outside of my fenced-in garden. I have them in some raised beds which I sometimes put up some temporary fencing around. Will I need to fence these potato plants to protect them from deer or will they be ok just sitting out in the open?



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Interesting question! I thought they don't eat potatoes leaves, but last year they ate my purple potatoes leaves. I am not sure is it because of this particular potatoes, but my previous experiences with other kind of potatoes were not bothered by deer.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 12:06PM
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I can honestly say that, in my 40-ish years of gardening, potatoes are one of the only vegetables I've never seen animals strip. Insects, yes, Colorado Potato Beetle and certain others (flea beetles?), but NEVER animals. I don't even seem to recall any nibbles, to the best of my knowledge.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 12:46PM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

Deer eat anything if they are hungry enough and potatoes for sure. The only thing they haven't eaten is my rosemary.....They don't like stinky plants.......but yes you need a fence..........

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 1:11PM
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I can provide first-hand commentary - that deer do eat potato leaves.

I had some in a bin last year - uncovered. Unfortunately I walked out and saw a deer just eating away at the potato plants. After that, I ensure to put the deer netting over the top of them.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Garden Blog

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 2:03PM
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YES, you plant it & they will come......To eat!
Anyone in S.C. need a place to hunt Deer?
I have a herd eating my garden every year.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 8:28PM
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Yes, they eat mine some years worse than others. It is far from their favorite but if there isn't much else, and early in the season there often isn't, they will munch it.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 8:37PM
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If there is almost anything else near the potatoes, stuff like grass or shrubs, they will eat those instead. I have always planted potatoes outside, in wood chip patches in corners of the lawn where I did not want to mow. Some patches are literally five feet from deer trails. Encouraged, I planted a large sunchoke patch, and it was destroyed completely.

Potato leaves are toxic, and they really are low in the list of foods for all critters. Evaluate your site and see if they will be left alone. If there is enough grass, I say they will be.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 11:22PM
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I dunno Glib, IME they don't prefer grass, they wiped me out completely once and there was plenty of grass. I agree any tasty shrubs will be preferred. Depending on the soil type and other factors (like when one plants their taters) there may be other things to distract. I plant pretty early because our sandy soil warms early and gets dry early.

The local CSA grower has had a lot of problems with deer and potatoes, both eating foliage and pawing up tubers. In any case, small patches are easy to encircle with some 4' fencing, the patch should be small enough that the fence doesn't need posts and that the deer won't like the idea of jumping inside. Probably if it doesn't exceed 10 feet in diameter will do the trick. One could do the same with that true deer-candy, sweet potatoes.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 8:10AM
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Yes they eat (some) of them. But doesn't matter. Enuf leaves remnain to stil grow some decent half ass tattors.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 10:27PM
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Sorry glib, you are right about the potatoes, tomatoes & egg plant, as well as the hot & sweet peppers are in the toxic Nightshade family.
All were in my garden for the past 3 years & the tender new growth was eaten every week end.
The deer walked over 75 acres of grass & wild herbs to get to my garden. Stopping only to eat my fruit tree leaves, before mowing my garden.
Some one said they smell minerals in the plants & eat them.
They eat organic when they can get it.:-)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 10:41PM
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I guess deer don't know about the nightshades. Maybe some pamphlets left in strategic places would do the trick?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 6:44AM
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Deer will eat anything once
Back in NJ they even munched on my digitalis (foxglove)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 9:04AM
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I must have been extremely lucky then. Or perhaps it is a family tradition of my local deer herd. They leave bamboo alone, too, but they got parsnip (and sunchokes, as mentioned above).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 4:48PM
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Weird! I grow lots of parsnip and I don't recall ever seeing any browsed. Maybe one of has the backwards deer.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 8:40PM
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