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
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

Non-native crape myrtle resistance to deer from Annapolis MD
April 06, 2013 - Is Crape Myrtle tree resistant to deers? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant vines for trellis
December 07, 2009 - We would love to have a blooming vine on our trellis, but the deer devour ever attempt. Please recommend something! Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Deer deterrent for Texas Persimmon
September 23, 2004 - The deer have destroyed my Texas Persimmon by standing on their hind legs and pulling down the branches--either ripping them off entirely or twisting them. I didn't realize the persimmon fruit would...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant trees for privacy in Texas
January 09, 2015 - I need to find a deer resistant tall shrub or tree to plant and hide the deer fence my neighbor just put up on our property line. My property has full sun in parts and mostly shady in other parts and ...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, Shaded Privacy Hedge for Wakefield RI
September 12, 2013 - We recently removed the dead undergrowth of white pines that were used for privacy. We need advice as to what type of evergreen would be suitable for growth beneath the branches above. It is VERY shad...
view the full question and answer

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