Do Deer Eat Elderberry Bushes?

AdobeStock Deer Elderberry photoDo deer eat elderberry bush? Deer eat many varieties of trees, shrubs, and even young plants. However, this article will discuss elderberry bushes.

Elderberry bushes are deciduous shrubs that bear diverse varieties of small berries. The simple fruits are often ingredients in jellies, jams, and wines. Native Americans first harvested elderberries. These shrubs can be highly beneficial in many gardens. Still, the question in the hearts of many potential growers is – “do deer eat elderberry bush?” The shortest answer is Yes and No.

Like squirrels, birds, and bears, deer can eat different parts of the Elderberry bushes. However, some reports consider these shrubs as being highly deer-resistant. So the difference is really about your location. For instance, some growers in Illinois and Pennsylvania say that deer eat some bush parts. The edible portions include ripe elderberries, steams, and leaves. Tennessee growers have seen this shrub as the top choice among other food sources. Reports show that deer eat elderberry bushes first instead of different options.

Therefore, you may see some damage if you live in regions with high deer activity. Your elderberry bushes can be eaten, preventing you from making jams or wine. Deer can become familiar with the beautiful berries and seek them as food. If you’re in any of these situations, you must consider deterrent techniques.

Here are Some Methods You Can Use:


Prevent deer from eating your elderberry bush by making or buying some deer repellents. Once you have a good batch, you can protect your beautiful shrubs. However, you need to rotate between products to keep deer away from the elderberries. At a minimum, use at least two or three different repellents. Deer quickly adapt to smells, so you need to change the scents so they don’t become familiar with them.

Protect Young Plants

Deer usually prefer tender new growth, especially when they’re well fertilized. Consider temporary fencing for your new elderberry saplings and transplants. This technique will keep all nibbling wildlife away from your young bushes. Fencing also protects young plants from being foraged or trampled during mid-season. Since permanent fences cost a lot of money, a temporary solution can prevent deer damage. Netting or garden gates are less expensive and safeguard plants until they mature. Wire cages or tree shelters can also help stop deer from eating your elderberry bush. You can also put up a fishing line to repel and scare deer away.

Use Deterrents

Encourage deer to leave your elderberries alone by using deterrents. There are many different products, but you must combine visual and auditory devices. Using two deterrents will give you maximum results and protect your shrubs. For example, get a moving scare device (auditory) to go with a scarecrow. Other ideas include strobe or flashing lights with scary-eyed balloons. However, deer are very persistent, so the systems need to be in place at all times. If not, your elderberry bushes can become a regular meal. Areas with higher deer populations observe these habits often.

Concluding Thoughts

Do Deer Eat Elderberry Bushes?

If you’ve been asked – do deer eat elderberries – in the past, now you know that the answer depends. Every situation is unique, so there’s no definitive answer. Elderberries are commonly on lists as deer-resistant plants. However, the bushes might be eaten in your region. So, if you plan on cultivating elderberries, you need deer deterrence. Add some techniques to protect your beautiful small fruits. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

If you are looking for an easy-to-use deer repellent that repels by scent, taste, and fear try Nature’s MACE. They offer premium deer repellents with a 100% money-back guarantee.

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Nicholas is a partner and co-founder at Nature's MACE. Nicholas received his Bachelor's in Business Administration from Penn State University. His mission is to create and promote natural substitutes for toxic pesticides. He hopes to prevent people, pets, and the environment from being negatively affected by potentially harmful pesticides.

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