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?


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
6 ratings

Sunday - June 01, 2008

From: Brenham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Native plants for deer
Answered by: Nan Hampton


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 cover but are they actually eating it or do they prefer my neighbor's veggies?


Wow! I think this is the first time we have gotten a question looking for plants that deer LIKE to eat. It is usually the reverse.

First of all, grass is not a large component of the deer's food. They do eat it, but mostly when it is young and tender and provides the highest nourishment or as a last resort when nothing else is available. Their major foods are forbs (herbaceous plants) and browse (foliage of shrubs and trees). They will also eat mast (acorns, persimmons, mesquite beans, cedar berries and other fruits) which is, I suppose, a sort of subset of browse. There is an excellent article, White-tailed Deer Management in the Texas Hill Country by W. E. Armstrong and E. L. Young, from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that goes into depth about managing the land for deer. In appendices at the end of the article there are lists of preferred deer food—Appendix B: Deer Browse Plants and Appendix C: Common Forbs of the Edwards Plateau. Since Brenham and Washington County are east of the Texas Hill Country, not all of the plants listed are going to be native to your area. I've picked out a few of the ones that are native to Washington County and that deer do prefer.


Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm)

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn)

Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak)

Quercus stellata (post oak)

Celtis laevigata (sugarberry)

Sideroxylon lanuginosum (gum bully)

Smilax bona-nox (saw greenbrier)

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy) (go figure!)


Phacelia congesta (bluecurls)

Commelina erecta (whitemouth dayflower)

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Calylophus berlandieri (Berlandier's sundrops)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)

Eustoma exaltatum (catchfly prairie gentian)

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow)

Callirhoe pedata (palmleaf poppymallow)

Ulmus crassifolia

Frangula caroliniana

Quercus marilandica

Quercus stellata

Celtis laevigata

Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Smilax bona-nox

Cercis canadensis

Toxicodendron radicans

Phacelia congesta

Commelina erecta

Engelmannia peristenia

Calylophus berlandieri

Helianthus maximiliani

Eustoma exaltatum

Callirhoe involucrata

Callirhoe pedata



More Deer Resistant Questions

Deer-resistant plants for under cedar and oak trees in Austin
June 22, 2010 - I have about 1.5 acres in southern Travis county. It's full of mature live oaks and cedar trees, and the soil is full of limestone. I've been gathering the limestone and using them to create raise...
view the full question and answer

Need a deer resistant plant that will grow in clay soil in Missouri.
June 22, 2009 - I need a plant or bush that is deer resistant and that will grow in clay soil. Can you help me?
view the full question and answer

Need deer resistant plants for a shady north facing garden in Raliegh, NC.
June 22, 2012 - I am in need of Deer Resistant Native Shade plants for a North Facing Garden. It is 3 feet wide by 20 feet long. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you, Eaten Alive
view the full question and answer

Prunus subhirtella deer resistance in Ironwood MI
May 06, 2009 - Is the double flowering prunus pendula subhirtella deer "food"?
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, sun tolerant plants for landscaping
April 19, 2007 - I live in Driftwood and am looking for flowering, deer-resistant plants for the northern side of my house; however the house turn just enough to the west that the flowerbed receives about 3 hours of a...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center