En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Monday - March 17, 2008

From: Chepachet, RI
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Native, deer-resistant evergreen trees for Rhode Island
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What deer proof evergreens can I plant in RI that may make nice xmas trees in a few years?

ANSWER:

First of all, there are not really any "deer proof" plants, only deer resistant ones. When food is short and conditions are tough, deer will eat almost anything—even plants on all the deer-resistant lists. That said, here is information about the deer-resistance of native evergreens (presented below) that grow in Rhode Island.

Deer-Departed.com lists the following species on their "Rarely Damaged Tree" list: Chamaecyparis species, Ilex opaca, Juniperus virginiana, Picea glauca, and Pinus species. Brooklyn Botanic Garden list of Deer-resistant Plants—Shrubs and Trees for the Deer-Plagued Gardener lists Chameaecyparis species and Picea species trees as deer-resistant. Iowa State University Extension Service puts Thuja occidentalis on their "Plants Frequently Severely Damaged". It is possible, however, to protect young trees from nibbling deer by enclosing them in wire cages. Check with you local nurseries for possible solutions.

Below are native evergreen trees that grow in Rhode Island. The information about growth rates for these comes from the U. S. Forest Service. It is possible that there are nursery cultivars of these trees that have been selected for more rapid growth than that listed by the Forest Service.

Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar) has a medium growth rate. In favorable sites they can grow to 10 feet in 7 or 8 years in the South, or 10 years in the Northeast. Here are some photos of Atlantic white cedar.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar), depending on the site, can grow as much as 17 inches in a year.

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) , probably not deer-resistant and generally slow growing (as little as 3 inches/year). Photo of T. occidentalis.

There are several pines, most of which are somewhat deer-resistant:

Pinus banksiana (jack pine) grows slowly in the first 3 years, but after this period their growth rate increases considerably so that they may be 3 feet by 4 years. Photos of P. banksiana.

Pinus resinosa (red pine) grows slowly in the wild and may take as long as 10 years to reach 4.5 feet. Photo of P. resinosa.

Pinus rigida (pitch pine) is another slow grower requiring 8 years to reach 2 feet. Photos of P. rigida.

Pinus strobus (eastern white pine) grows slowly for first 2 to 3 years, but then increases rapidly so that by 10 years they have reached 10-15 feet.

Spruces:

Picea glauca (white spruce) is another slow grower, reaching less than 20 inches after 4-6 years. Photos of P. glauca.

Picea mariana (black spruce) growth reaches 5-13 feet at 10 years in plantations. Photos of P. mariana.

Finally, an evergreen non-conifer, Ilex opaca (American holly), can grow 3 to 4 feet a year under optimal conditions, but usually grows much slower. Here is more information about its growth.


Juniperus virginiana

Pinus strobus

Ilex opaca

 



 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Deer and rabbit resistant alpine plants for New Mexico
December 21, 2007 - What plants, including wildflowers, would you recommend for a somewhat windy, southeast exposure with rocky soil at 9150ft in Angel Fire, New Mexico, that are deer, rabbit, and chipmonk resistant? (I ...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for a bioswale in NJ
May 06, 2011 - We live in Morris County, New Jersey, on the edge of a nature preserve, i.e., deer are a bane to everything we plant. We recently had to have a swale dug on the west end of our house to deal alleviat...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for deer
June 01, 2008 - I live on 5 acres near Brenham and want to plant FOR the deer, without using non-natives. I leave unmowed islands of Buffalo grass, little bluestem and many native forbs. I know they are using it for ...
view the full question and answer

Does deer repellant really work from Hope NJ
November 10, 2009 - Does Deer Stopper by Messina Wildlife really work as an organic pest repellent?
view the full question and answer

Deer proof ground cover for sunny area in Mississippi
June 09, 2012 - I am looking for a low ground cover that will thrive in a sunny location and is deer proof
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center