Do Deer Eat Marigolds? (No, see why)

Several plants can be destroyed by Deer when they visit your garden. It’s important to know these plants and guard your plants accordingly.


In our previous posts, we’ve established that Impatiens are a delicacy for Deer, but what about Marigolds?

Do deer eat marigolds? No, Deer doesn’t eat Marigold because they’re toxic plants. Marigold plants contain a chemical called thujone which tastes extremely bitter to deer.

To some humans, it even tastes like turpentine or leaves a burning sensation in the mouth. 

Thujone is found throughout the plant but especially within the root and flower head. It’s also been suggested that marigolds have been used as a natural insect repellent since ancient times, so there’s another good reason to grow them in your garden.

Deer get around this problem by simply refusing to eat marigolds – but there are ways that you can help stop deer from eating your plants over the winter if you have a particular problem with these lovely creatures.

Read Also:- Do Deer Eat Zinnia? (No, here’s why)

Do Deer eat Marigolds? 

This is a question often asked by those who have been keeping outdoor plants from being devoured by these four-legged backyard intruders. 

There are many factors that determine whether or not deer will consume a particular plant, including the availability of other food choices, lack of interest due to its taste, and palatability. 

Most gardeners know that deer like to munch on tasty ornamental plants but may never realize that they also enjoy feasting on vegetables and fruits; especially fermenting vegetation. 

Yes, the same critters you see in your backyards can stink up your entire home with their droppings if you let them stay for too long.

The Latin name for marigold is “Tagetes Patula” and is part of the Asteraceae family. According to Purdue University Pest & Diseases Image Gallery, it has also been known as “stinkweed.” So while deer may not find marigolds palatable enough to eat, they will surely enjoy passing their “stink time” in your house.

Although scientific studies have never confirmed whether or not deer can smell (and subsequently determine what smells good), there are many other animals who use smell to help them survive. 

It should be noted that deer’s sense of smell far exceeds that of humans; even though we are pretty good at it too. 

An animal’s ability to smell is directly related to how large its nasal is in proportion with the rest of its head and in deer, the nasal cavity is much larger than in other animals. 

Deer can smell things in mere seconds because of this bigger intake of air. The olfactory lobe (responsible for processing smells) also occupies a much larger portion of the brain than it does in humans or other animals.

Read Also:- Do Deer Eat Bee Balm? (Is It Deer-Repellent)?

Marigold Information

The marigold is one of the most popular flowers in the world. It has long been associated with Mexican festivities, especially Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). 

Marigolds are also an integral part of some traditions through their association with benefits such as wealth and financial well-being, and various customs including wearing them to ward off bad luck. 

However, these flowers have a darker side: if left unchecked, they can quickly take over open areas and reduce biodiversity and crop productivity. 

These invasive species thrive throughout North America and Europe and it’s showing no signs of slowing down their expansion.

A single marigold can produce more than 1,500 seeds per year, and the seeds remain viable for at least 10 years. Their aggressive growth strategies make them difficult to eradicate and many gardeners won’t grow them because of that. 

For deer, marigolds are not only an invasive species but also a tasty treat. So why don’t deer eat marigolds?

Parts of a Marigold

Let’s start by discussing what deer find most appetizing on the marigold: the flowers and buds. This is where they get their marshmallow fix.

The leaves of this plant, however, do not fall under the category of deer food because they contain toxic chemicals called furanocoumarins (I know, a strange name for a toxic chemical). These compounds prevent the deer’s blood cells from properly absorbing iron and other minerals.

Read Also:- Are Spider Plants Poisonous To Cats? (No, here’s why)

Furanocoumarins in Marigolds

The marigold flowers produce an essential oil called bergapten, which is transformed into furanocoumarin by sunlight after its production. 

When consumed by humans, this compound causes phytophotodermatitis (or “Margarita photodermatitis”), an itchy blistering rash that develops on exposed skin when exposed to ultraviolet light. 

The chemicals are present not only in the flowers but also in the stems and leaves of the plant. While these can be handled without harm, they can cause problems when ingested by deer or other animals. 

So, while the small amounts contained in the flowers and buds won’t hurt deer, plants containing both leaves and flowers can cause serious problems.

Why Do Deer Not Eat Marigolds?


Many people often wonder why deer do not eat marigolds. This is an important question to answer for those who want to protect their yard or garden from these types of creatures. 

Knowing why deer do not eat marigolds will help anyone understand what makes this flowerless than for deer and other animals in general.

The parts of marigold that deer may find appetizing such as buds and flowers are okay for them if they want to partake in it; however, anything else is risky. 

While this animal may be okay with nibbling on small amounts of the plant, ingesting large quantities poses a problem. This occurs due to components that can be found within the marigold including furanocoumarin, which turns into furanocoumarin when exposed to sunlight and its oil bergapten. 

Ingestion of any part of this species by humans causes phytophotodermatitis, which is an itchy blistering rash that develops on exposed skin when exposed to sunlight. The chemicals are present not only in the flowers but also stems and leave of this flower.

Due to the risks associated with eating marigolds, pet owners should consider avoiding using this type of plant when putting together their landscaping plans for pets or livestock around their home. 

By knowing why deer do not eat marigolds, people can ensure they have a safe area for their animals to play in without worrying about any side effects being caused by ingestion. 

Read Also: Succulent Plants: Growing and Caring for Succulent Plants for Beginners

It’s important to note that while deer may be okay with eating small amounts of this flower, large quantities could put them at risk due to toxicity. For this reason alone, it’s important to put together an area for these animals which doesn’t include marigolds.

Deer will not eat Marigolds because they are toxic to them, just like how foxglove is toxic to the heart. And yes, this goes for other types of wildlife too. Just thought that I’d share this knowledge with you guys.

Benefits of Planting Marigolds

Benefits of Planting Marigolds:- A growing number of farmers around the world are finding marigolds to be an effective way to repel deer from their crops. Marigolds contain the Pyrenees, a substance that contains toxins for deer and other animals such as rabbits and raccoons.  

These toxins can sicken any animal that eats the plants after they have been touched by the leaves or roots of the plant. This is why it’s important to keep your marigold plants away from where you let your pets roam (since oftentimes they like to roll in and eat anything they find on the ground).  

Once these chemicals make their way into an animal’s system it causes diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, etc. So not only do the deer not enjoy the taste of marigolds, it can also make them very ill. 

While many studies have been completed to show how effective marigolds are at keeping deer away, there are still skeptics out there that don’t believe in this miracle plant. That’s why people should try it themselves and experience the benefits for themselves.

One farmer who was suffering severe damage to his crops by deer decided to take matters into his own hands. He began planting marigold plants around his fields and noticed immediate improvements in his crop health. 

The plants seemed bigger, healthier, brought forth more fruit, etc. His neighbors scoffed when he told them about all the progress he made simply by sticking some in the ground each spring (they thought he was crazy). 

Soon they all saw the results for themselves, and there were more converts than ever before. The farmer who had started it all decided that it would be beneficial to spread the word about this “miracle flower”, so he began doing just that.  

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He wrote articles for local newspapers, planted marigolds in his garden at home, talked to anyone who would listen… Soon he had a following of people with the same issues as himself who wanted to see marigolds work their magic on their farms as well.

There are many types of marigolds available now to choose from. Make sure you pick the right one based on what you want to do with it. 

Seeds are often preferred over plants because they are much cheaper, can be planted at any time of year (whereas most marigolds available at nurseries are only sold in the spring). 

Some people plant them just along the edge of their property where deer usually come into their garden. They can also be used as hedges around crops that need protecting or even put down as thick mulch after being grown.  

So if you have been looking for an organic way to keep deer out of your garden, look no further than marigolds.

Read Also: Azaleas bush: Planting, Growing plant, and caring your favorite shrub 


Deer are known for nibbling on gardens, and marigolds are no exception. Learn how to protect your marigolds from these graceful but pesky visitors. Discover effective strategies, from plant choices that repel deer to physical deterrents. Dive into the world of deer-resistant gardening and keep your marigolds flourishing. Explore the blog for insights into creating a garden that thrives, even in areas frequented by deer. Enhance your gardening skills and maintain a beautiful, deer-resistant landscape with valuable tips and tricks.


Deer love eating tender shoots and leaves during the winter months, so this time of year is the most important time to ensure that your plants are protected from these furry raiders.

If you need advice about how to deter deer from your marigolds, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

Read Also:- Do Deer Eat Impatiens? (Yes, here’s why)


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