En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - January 03, 2014

From: Saint Louis County, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Deer Resistant, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Deer Resistance and Erosion Control for St. Louis County MO
Answered by: Larry Larson


I am looking for deer and rabbit resistant native plants for erosion control on a steep ravine slope with part sun and part shade in St. Louis County MO.


  Here is a selection of previous Mr Smarty Plant’s responses to questions that involve both erosion control and deer resistance.  Only the first reference is from Missouri, but all give some appropriate direction.

Arnold MO:   Low-maintenance grass for retention pond
Limiting erosion around pond from Brooklyn Park MN
Deer-resistant groundcovers for erosion control
Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama   

  Mr Smarty Plant’s recipe for erosion control is to choose plants that clump and/or have extensive root systems.  These larger root systems tend to hold the soil in place to a larger extent than the size of the plant would suggest.

 There is a special collection of recommended species for Deer resistance.  Rabbit resistance isn’t mentioned in the plant records, but one can hope that deer resistant species are similar.  This link leads to the collection of deer resistant species. 

  Like the other special lists, this can be searched for state, aspect, height and several other important characteristics. Thinking about both of these sets of characteristics, my review of this list suggests the following as suitable plants:

Grasses:   Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama), Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge), Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Shrubs:  Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)Hypericum prolificum (Shrubby st. johnswort). Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

  If you want a little flowering color, there are 43 native wildflowers that also are shown by searching for  “Herbs” in this same collection.


From the Image Gallery

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Shrubby st. john's-wort
Hypericum prolificum

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for a sunny, dry slope in NY
March 01, 2010 - Looking for plants, native to area, that are quick growing to a height of approximately 6" to 12" for a steep slope comprised of shale in a sunny location.
view the full question and answer

What's invading my bermuda grass?
June 11, 2013 - Our grass is being totally overrun by this weed.(I don't know what the name is identify it by the description. It is in Bermuda grass and the only way to describe the weed is to say it looks like big...
view the full question and answer

Lindheimer's muhly, goat food in Fredericksburg TX
July 25, 2011 - How can I eradicate Lindheimers muhly in my pasture and what can I plant in its place that goats will graze on?
view the full question and answer

Identification of native grasses little bluestem and switchgrass
August 09, 2007 - If you drive east of Austin on Hwy 71, there is a bluish looking grass that has become very noticeable since the heavy rains in July. The blades grow straight up and each plant is in clump form. Do ...
view the full question and answer

Should the herbicide Ornamec 170 be used on unwanted grasses?
March 15, 2012 - I have a lovely wildflower garden in a field behind my house; unfortunately, the wildflowers are being smothered by grasses. I understand that Ornamec 170 can be used to control grasses in wildflower...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center