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
1 rating

Thursday - November 29, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant ground covers
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Are there any deer resistant ground covers? Our asiatic jasmine has been eaten up by the deer.


If you are looking for ground covers without showy flowers, your best natives would be grasses or sedges. For areas with lots of sun Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is an excellent choice. It forms a turf and, not only is it deer-resistant, but it is also drought-resistant and requires very little mowing. It does require at least 6 hours of sunshine every day to thrive and it does turn somewhat brown in the winter. If left unmowed, it grows to 6-12 inches high.

Another grass that is a bit more wispy is Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn). The seedheads turn purple in the fall.

There are several sedges that are evergreen and will grow both in shade and sun:

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Carex planostachys (cedar sedge)

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

If you have lots of sun in your area and you want a groundcover with flowers, you could use:

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita)

These low-growing plants will grow in sun or part shade:

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage)

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Wedelia texana (hairy wedelia)   This plant is listed as moderately resistant to deer, but its growth rate is such that it can usuallly keep up with the deer grazing on it.

Finally, these plants prefer part shade:

Stachys coccinea (scarlet hedgenettle)

Tetraneuris scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy)

Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage)

For all the plants above Mr. Smarty Plants would like to offer the following caveat: These plants have been identified as deer-resistant, but under adverse environmental conditions deer may eat many plants that under normal situations they wouldn't eat!

Bouteloua dactyloides

Aristida purpurea

Carex texensis

Chrysactinia mexicana

Salvia lyrata

Melampodium leucanthum

Wedelia texana

Phyla nodiflora

Stachys coccinea

Tetraneuris scaposa

Salvia roemeriana




More Deer Resistant Questions

Resourses that are being taken away - Tiffin OH
April 03, 2013 - What are resources that are being taken away from humans and organisms?
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant Vine for California
July 24, 2013 - What can I plant to cover a retaining wall in Redwood City, CA that will grow down on it (no dirt below) that deer will not eat? I have just about given up. I have tried jasmine and Gelsemium and regu...
view the full question and answer

Junipers for restoring area in Bulverde TX
November 03, 2012 - Are ashe or virginiana junipers for sale around the hill country? I would like to recreate the natural plant life that was bulldozed next to my home. Do you recommend any other types of juniper that ...
view the full question and answer

Not deer eating the Eve's necklace in San Marcos TX
June 16, 2011 - Dear Mr SP, Re: the Eve's necklace being eaten. I'm so sorry that I didn't tell you in my original question which you were kind enough to answer with the speed of lightening, but I am on the East...
view the full question and answer

Jasminum polyanthum Deer Resistant and Native?
March 07, 2015 - Are Jasminum polyanthum deer resistant? They are selling these plants at Trader Joe's right now so I'm assuming it's native to our area. But the instructions don't say anything about deer.
view the full question and answer

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