Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - November 04, 2008

From: Mariposa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Deer Resistant, Shrubs
Title: Deer eating creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have Creosote Bushes (Larrea tridentata) that grow wild on out 10 acres. The deer eat those plants all year 'round. Probably more in the dry times of the year. Just wanted to let you know that they are NOT deer proof. Thank you,

ANSWER:

Thank you very much for your information.  Most of the lists for deer resistant plants emphasize that the plants are "deer resistant", not "deer proof".  For example, see the following listings of Larrea tridentataCamouflage Gardening by Patti Simons from the Native Plant Society of Texas, Deer Resistant Rarely Damaged Shrubs from Deer-departed.com and the Deer Resistant list from Pacific Coast Home and Garden Center.  But we do know that deer will eat things they aren't "supposed" to eat.  It often depends on the concentration of deer in an area and the availability of preferred food as to whether they will eat plants that have been named "deer resistant".  After environmental conditions have forced them to eat plants that they normally avoid, deer sometimes seem to develop a taste for the usually unpalatable species.  For instance in my urban neighborhood several years ago when there was a drought and a large population of deer, they ate the normally spurned English ivy (Hedera helix)—not such a bad thing since English ivy is on the Plant Conservation Alliances's Alien Plant Working Group "Least Wanted" list.  They ate it down to the bare stems and denuded a lot of lawns.  The ivy being the hardy, invasive plant that it is, recovered; but, strangely, they still eat it sometimes even though they don't seem to be particularly stressed for food right now.

 

From the Image Gallery


Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata

Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata

Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata

More Deer Resistant Questions

Deer and rabbit repelling plants at nature sanctuary in Waterford VA
May 11, 2010 - We have established a native pollinator garden at our nature sanctuary. Last summer deer and perhaps rabbits devastated it. Now people are proposing surrounding it with boxwood which deer don't like-...
view the full question and answer

Perennial ground cover for hillside in Holmdel NJ
April 25, 2014 - I live in NJ. I would like to use a perennial ground cover for my landscaping bed on a hill with full sun and deer resistant. It's a good size landscaping bed that is facing east (southeast). What...
view the full question and answer

Looking for evergreen deer proof plants for full sun
October 17, 2007 - Which plants would be DEER PROOF, will be with almost full sun and will not die completely during winter? besides some plastic ones =) It doesn't matter the size, flowers or not.
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant plants for a steep hillside in Allison Park PA
July 30, 2010 - What do you recommend for a steep hillside, mostly shade and acidic? The deer have eaten everything except the weeds.
view the full question and answer

Critter-Proof Native Plants for Virginia Lawn
April 02, 2015 - We live in a gated community that was part of the Wilderness Battlefield during the Civil War. Our home is on a narrow lot, fully treed except for a postage stamp-sized lawn at lake side. We have de...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.