Do Deer Eat Elderberry Bushes?

Do deer eat elderberry bush? Deer eat many varieties of trees, shrubs, and even young plants. However, in this article, we will talk about the relationship between deer and elderberry bushes.

Elderberry bushes are deciduous shrubs that bear diverse varieties of small berries, used in producing jellies, jams, and wines. These shrubs are natives to America and can be highly beneficial, in many gardens. Still, the question on 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 bush. However, Elderberries are equally reported as highly deer resistant shrubs, so the difference is really about your location. For instance, some growers in Illinois and Pennsylvania have reported deer eating the berries (ripe), steams, and even the leaves of elderberry. Growers in Tennessee also reported that deer feed on their elderberries even when there are other palatable food sources all around.

Therefore, if you live in regions with a high level of deer activity or where deer are generally familiar with elderberries, your beautiful young Elderberries can be easily damaged by them. If any of these situations apply to you, then you must consider using deer deterrent techniques to keep them away.

Here are some methods you can use:


You can create repellents at home or purchase some from your local store. Once you have a good batch, you can effectively deter deer from your elderberries. However, you should rotate between at least two or three repellents. Deer adapt easily to smells, so, changing keeps them from becoming familiar with it.

Protect young plants

Deer usually prefer tender new growth, especially when they are well fertilized. It would help if you considered temporary fencing for your new saplings and transplants to effectively keep all inquisitive nibbling wildlife away. Beyond eating, fencing can also help prevent your young plants from been foraged or trampled during mid-season. Although permanent fencing costs a great deal of money, consider temporary fencing, which is less expensive and useful for safeguarding your plants until they reach maturity. You can also consider using other protection methods such as plastic netting, wire cages, or tree shelters to prevent damage by deer.

Use deterrents

Encourage deer to leave your elderberries by using deterrents. There are a great number of them, but you must combine visual and auditory deterrents for maximum results. For instance, you can combine moving scare devices (auditory deterrents) with scarecrows, strobe or flashing lights, and scare-eye balloons. However, deer are highly persevering, so you must have these systems in place at all times because they will likely keep coming back frequently. These habits have been noticed in places with higher deer populations.

Concluding thoughts

If you have been asked – do deer eat elderberries – in the past, now you know that the answer depends on the unique situation. Elderberries are commonly listed as deer-resistant plants, but they aren’t always so in many regions. Hence, if you plan on cultivating elderberries, you should always add a good number of deer deterrent practices to your list. It is better to be safe than sorry.


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