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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.

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

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Friday - April 25, 2014

From: Holmdel, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Perennial ground cover for hillside in Holmdel NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in NJ. I would like to use a perennial ground cover for my landscaping bed on a hill with full sun and deer resistant. It's a good size landscaping bed that is facing east (southeast). What can I use to plant. I do not want to use mulch any more, it's getting to be expensive to have it done twice a year. Thank you.

ANSWER:

First, we will go to our Native Plant Database and see what we can find in the way of low-growing plants, good for full sun and native to New Jersey. We will not only check that the plants we select are native to New Jersey, we will also look at the USDA Plant Profile Map for each plant to see if it is native to Monmouth County or nearby. The reason for that is to make sure the climate, rainfall and soils in your garden are hospitable to the plants we suggest. Then, since "deer resistance" is much harder to find, we will see which of the plants already selected might qualify. You may find that you can make an exception if there are plants you really like that the deer like, too.

We are going to start, going to our Native Plant Database and,  using the selection list on the left-hand side of the page, check New Jersey, "grass or grass-like" for HABIT, "perennial" for DURATION, "sun" (6 or more hours of sun a day, for LIGHT REQUIREMENTS and 1-3 ft for HEIGHT. We will make additional searches for the HABIT of "herb" (heraceous blooming plant), and "shrub," using the same specifications.You can then follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn if its growing conditions match those in your garden. And you can use the same method to look for more plants, maybe with different specifications, that will suit your purposes  better.

Grasses for New Jersey Full Sun Groundcover:

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Carex stipata (Awlfruit sedge)

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple lovegrass)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Herbaceous plants for New Jersey Full Sun Groundcover:

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)

Campanula rotundifolia (Bluebell bellflower)

Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf coreopsis)

Rubus pubescens (Dwarf red blackberry)

Shrubs for New Jersey Full Sun Groundcover:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Rubus odoratus (Purpleflowering raspberry)

Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry)

Now, on to the possibility of deer resistant plants. As you follow these links to our webpages, you will notice (on some of the plants) a phrase "Deer resistance," which will be followed by "Highly Resistant," "Moderately resistant," or, sometimes, "Minimally Resistant." So, we now appoint you Deer Detective. Following is a list of lists from various sources:

From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Deer Resistant Species - 344 plants that are native all over North America.

Once again using the "Narrow Your Search" function on the left-hand side of that page, you can select on New Jersey for the state and Narrow Your Search. This gives you this list of 74 plants native to New Jersey that have at least some resistance to being destroyed by deer. Look that list over, see if it includes some plants we have already recommended. Follow the plant links to others you think you might like better, remembering to check for height, sun exposure, etc. Somewhere in there is the perfect plant (or plants) for your purpose.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Purple lovegrass
Eragrostis spectabilis

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Jack in the pulpit
Arisaema triphyllum

Bluebell bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Threadleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis verticillata

Dwarf red blackberry
Rubus pubescens

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Carolina rose
Rosa carolina

Purple-flowering raspberry
Rubus odoratus

Late lowbush blueberry
Vaccinium angustifolium

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