We’re here to help! Wild Yards is a completely free website that is 100% dedicated to helping you create a wildlife-friendly, sustainable yard. Read more
Okra is an often underused and under-appreciated plant. It has a unique taste and texture which is very appealing to many of us. It can also be an absolute pleasure to grow and does take a lot of care which means you want to protect it against local wildlife! This may lead you to wonder, do deer eat okra?
Deer can and will eat okra given the opportunity, though anecdotal evidence suggests this may vary. In some cases, if they are hungry enough, deer will eat okra whole – the vegetable and plant inclusive. Therefore, regardless of your local deer’s tastes, it’s likely worth protecting your crops.
Why do deer like okra?
Okra can appeal to many deer thanks to its mild taste. Even when cooked as part of popular cuisine, some have claimed it even tastes a little like grass – though, as you may know, deer aren’t likely to eat grass unless they have to. So, what makes okra any different?
Young okra plants are likely to be popular with deer thanks to their tender structures. Deer, who have ruminant digestive systems, often choose to feed on gentle, mild-flavored foodstuffs. Their stomachs are much more sensitive than our own!
However, okra can also be quite slimy, which may deter some deer. Given this, it’s never a plant you can rely on to deter deer completely. In fact, there is arguably no such thing as a fully deer-resistant plant – they will scavenge for anything they can find if they need to.
Okra is relatively high in protein, which also makes for a quick fix of energy for deer on the move. Believe it or not, okra can even help support gastrointestinal health – though whether this is the case for deer remains to be seen.
Deer enjoy a variety of plants, and while okra can be a good choice for feeding time, there are snacks they prefer more. For example, growing trees deer love – to produce acorns and soft-shelled nuts – will likely be more prudent for attraction.
How do you keep deer from eating okra?
Suppose you aren’t bringing deer to your yard on purpose. In that case, it may be worth considering physical, opaque fencing – either around your crops themselves or to the edge of your garden where animals regularly trespass.
The goal with physical deterrents for deer is that they do not have a direct eye-line to your crops. They will primarily only choose crops they can see, and won’t willingly leap over fences when they can’t see over the other side. Consider setting up perimeters of a few feet tall to the edge of your yard – and a foot or so tall around your okra.
It may also be worth hanging audio deterrents around your garden – such as wind chimes. Deer flight responses are extraordinarily sensitive. Therefore, by hanging something that even makes a mild amount of noise towards the edge of your garden, you can have greater confidence that animals won’t venture in and steal your hard-grown crops.
Another method of deterrence that some gardeners swear by is planting crops that deer do not like to try and distract them. Of course, you should not have to change your entire fruit and vegetable register to suit the deer – however, planting things such as garlic, onions, cucumber, rosemary, oregano, asparagus, and even rhubarb can help to lower deer interest.
Simply arrange your outer plot with these crops, or even line the fencing with them. Deer will be less interested in what is inside your garden if the outer layers do not appeal to them. You may even wish to grow deer-resistant ferns, too.
Again, these plants and crops simply aren’t favored by deer – they won’t be attracted to them. If you still find deer entering your yard and eating your okra, it may be time to set up physical deterrents.
What animals can eat okra?
Wild animals such as rabbits, voles, chipmunks, squirrels, and even woodchucks are all fans of wild okra. Certain insects are also commonly found to be a problem when it comes to growing the crop, too. Stink bugs, beetles, and aphids in particular are known for eating different parts of the plants, from the okra itself to its leaves.
Therefore, it’s worth setting up protective netting if you start noticing smaller nibbles taken out of your okra leaves. Try to avoid using pesticides, as these can seriously harm the wild visitors to your garden – as well as ourselves, if you spray them all over edible crops you wish to harvest.
What vegetables do deer not eat?
Deer do not like strong-smelling vegetables such as onions, and garlic, in particular, and the scents can help to put them off. If it has a strong smell or a distinct scent, it’s likely deer will look for alternative food sources. It’s a key reason why deer love celery – it is refreshing yet bland!
Despite what people commonly believe, deer do not generally choose to eat root vegetables. While they may occasionally eat the leaves on top, deer are generally not the problem when it comes to the vegetables themselves. This is because they won’t dig for their food – they prefer to eat what’s readily available to them without any major exertion.
Finally, deer greatly dislike fluffy and prickly leaves. Naturally, these can hurt their tongues and are usually avoided – meaning your squash crop, for example, is likely to be safe from their interest.