Do Deer Eat Pumpkins Or Pumpkin Plants?

Do deer eat pumpkins or the pumpkin plants? You want to plant them in your garden this year, but wonder if it's worth the effort. Deer tend to mow down just about everything. Will your pumpkin patch be safe? We looked into this to help you decide what to plant in your garden this year. 

Deer will eat your pumpkins. In the early growing season, they love the tender young leaves and shoots. Then in the fall, they'll come back around to bust open the ripe fruit and eat the pumpkin guts.

A deer eating pumpkins, Do Deer Eat Pumpkins or Pumpkin Plants?

We're going to look at how to protect your pumpkin patch from deer. We're also going to explore our research on other animals that will eat your pumpkin plants. So keep reading to find out more.

Do Deer Eat Pumpkin Plants And Fruit?

Though you may choose to give your neighborhood deer your worn out jack-o-lantern, you probably don't want them munching on your garden beauties. So, do deer eat pumpkin plants?

Pumpkin plants, much like other vining vegetables, grow on fuzzy stalks that then produce flowers ahead of the fruit. Deer don't love fuzzy stalks as much as other choices, so the vines themselves aren't in that much danger. However, deer adore flowers, and those delectable pumpkin blossoms are like candy to them. And herein lies the problem, once they eat the bloom, you're not going to have much luck getting a pumpkin from your plant.

What can you do? There are a couple of tricks you can try. Plant some marigolds around the borders of your garden. The marigold smell is a turn-off to deer, and it will keep them away.

You can also try netting. Drape it over the patch to keep deer out. This will also help keep other creatures out, like rabbits and birds.

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Do Deer Eat The Ripe Pumpkins?

As the pictures show you, yes, deer will eat the ripe pumpkins. Though they're not wild about the tough outer skin, they love the soft interior and the pumpkin seeds. They have no problem using their hooves or antlers, to crack open the pumpkins you've spent months growing. 

Besides netting and deer fences, there are other repellants and measures you can try to keep deer out of the garden.

Deer Repellant is a pre-mixed solution that coats your plants with one spray. Repulsed by both the smell and the taste, deer will stay far away from your plants.

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If you'd prefer not to spray directly onto your plants, this deer repellant hanging bags are another choice. Hang near, or on the plants, you're trying to save, and the deer won't come near. You can even create a perimeter of these around your entire garden to keep deer and rabbits out.

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Ultrasound technology is another option for keeping deer out of the garden. These devices work by emitting a high-pitched frequency that is uncomfortable and frightening, though not harmful, to garden pests. Stake it out in the garden or hang it from a ceiling.

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Do Rabbits Eat Pumpkins?

Rabbits will eat your tender pumpkin plant sprouts and maybe even new, young fruit. But, if you have other delicacies, like lettuce and green beans, they'll eat those plants first. To keep rabbits out of your pumpkin patch, you'll need to get defensive. You can try fencing or netting, and if those ideas don't work, there are repellants and traps. Some gardeners even go as far as hunting pesky rabbits.

Garden netting like this works to keep pests, like rabbits, away from your plants. Use tomato stakes or PVC pipes with zip ties to create a cage around your plants.

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A repellant like this is easy to use. Just sprinkle around your plants that you want to protect. It's environmentally safe and works by releasing an odor that produces predator fear in the rabbits.

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What Other Animals Could Be Eating Your Pumpkins?

Besides deer and rabbits, other animals that love pumpkins and pumpkin plants are mice and moles, squirrels and chipmunks, and the biggest invader of all, woodchucks. Mice and moles are easy to control. If you get a good garden or barn cat, the mice and moles will spread the word a predator is in the area and stay clear.

For squirrels and chipmunks, you'll need to protect your fruit. A good pepper spray applied directly to the surface of the pumpkin, should keep them away. The same cat you use for the mice will also hunt chipmunks, but may not do much good for squirrels.

This peppermint and cinnamon oil spray is safe to use on your pumpkins but will turn off the squirrels and chipmunks.

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Lastly, if you are unlucky enough to end up with a woodchuck in your garden, you're going to have to trap it or hunt it. Call your local wildlife organization to find out about relocating the animal once trapped. They will also have humane traps for loan in many instances.

How To Keep Squirrels Away From Your Cute Front Porch Pumpkins

You put your heart and soul into creating the cutest fall front porch display ever. So when you come home from work and find it decimated by a pack of hapless squirrels, it's all-out war. Squirrels are notorious for making an excellent meal of front porch pumpkins. They can't help themselves; they love the seeds! 

If you're not planning on eating your pumpkins, then you could use a predator spray like this Fox Urine.

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Keep in mind that it does have an odor that you may not want on your front porch.

If you want something tolerable, then use the pepper spray we showcased above. You will need to reapply it after any rain that drenches your porch pumpkins. 

Another trick is to cover your pumpkin with petroleum jelly or a vapor rub. Because squirrels don't like sticky things, this can be effective, though maybe a little messy.

Does Hairspray Keep Squirrels Away From Pumpkins?

Yes, if you spray your pumpkins with a thick layer of hairspray, it will act as a deterrent to squirrels. Because of the smell, texture, and taste, they'll stay away. However, you'll need to reapply the hairspray every few days as it doesn't last very long.

You could also add an owl statue to your display. Owls are natural squirrel predators.

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With a little bit of hard work and a few extra steps, you can have a vegetable garden and live in harmony with your wild neighbors. Hungry deer don't have to keep you from having a patch of pumpkins. Just use your deterrents and be vigilant about keeping them away. If you're curious about what other things deer eat (so much!), please check out some of our posts here at on the topic:

Do Deer Eat Impatiens? [And How To Protect Your Impatiens From Them]

Are Roses Deer-Resistant? [And How to Protect Your Roses From Deer]

Are Sunflowers Deer Resistant? [and How to Protect Your Plants]

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