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Friday - June 06, 2008

From: Canadian Lakes, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant native plants for Michigan
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am looking for a deer-resistant ground cover for a mid-to-northern Michigan (lower peninsula), which can grow in completely sandy soil. Thanks for any advice.


Asking for Michigan, deer resistance, sandy soil AND a ground cover left us with very few choices. Of course, we chose only plants from our Native Plant Database, as that is what the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is all about, the use and preservation of plants native to North America. And, many of the choices we did find have warnings about their toxicity, probably why the deer won't eat them. So, from our Deer Resistant List we chose plants that (mostly) had high deer resistance and would grow in sand, even though they are not, strictly speaking, ground covers. And there were four that could be considered ground covers that met the other criteria, but some of them have minimal deer resistance. Please read the webpage that the links below take you to on each plant. You will have to make the decision on whether you want toxic plants that are deer resistant or plants the deer will probably eat that are non-toxic. For other suggestions, go to this Rutgers Agricultural Station article on plants rated by their resistance to deer browsing. This article from the West Virginia University Extension Service on Resistance of Ornamentals to Deer Damage has another list of "Rarely Damaged" and "Frequently Damaged" plants, and some guidelines to management. When you have made a selection of the plants you are interested in, go to Suppliers on our website, type your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries and seed suppliers in your general area; most with websites or telephone numbers so you can check on availability.


Argemone albiflora (bluestem pricklypoppy)

Cardiospermum halicacabum (love in a puff) - a vine that might be allowed to trail as a ground cover

Datura wrightii (sacred thorn-apple)

Equisetum hyemale var. affine (scouringrush horsetail)

Eupatorium serotinum (lateflowering thoroughwort)

Verbesina encelioides (golden crownbeard)


Hydrocotyle umbellata (manyflower marshpennywort) - deer resistance minimal

Oxalis stricta (common yellow oxalis) - sour tasting

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry) - deer resistance minimal

Solanum rostratum (buffalobur nightshade) - high deer resistance

Argemone albiflora

Cardiospermum halicacabum

Datura wrightii

Equisetum hyemale var. affine

Euphorbia marginata

Eupatorium serotinum

Verbesina encelioides

Hydrocotyle umbellata

Oxalis stricta

Prunella vulgaris

Solanum rostratum




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