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Friday - April 03, 2009

From: Bandera, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Deer resistant shade plants for Southern Texas
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe


Looking for low shrubs and flowers that will grow in full shade and that would be mostly deer resistant. North facing front of our house.


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center works exclusively with native plants, so our answer will deal with native plant solutions. Full shade and deer in combination limit plant choices. Deer never seem to read our opinions about what they don't eat and most flowering plants flower less as the intensity of shade increases. To counter those limits, consider putting plants that are deer candy within a perimeter of deer-resistant plants. Some plants, once well-established, can withstand deer browsing, if you can tolerate them... On the shade issue, the degree of shade your site experiences may or may not be so limiting. High, airy tree canopies permit more light to enter, while high walls, heavy foliage and shade from multiple angles are hard to counter. Here are some suggestions for your space. All are shade tolerant and are somewhat to quite deer resistant.

Our first four suggestions are perennial flowering plants and the fifth is a re-seeding annual, sometimes perennial. The native ruellia is not to be mistaken with Ruellia brittoniana, which is a common non-native which in some areas is classed "invasive".

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Ruellia drummondiana (Drummond's wild petunia) spreads prolifically by root and seed...

Salvia coccinea (blood sage)


The following three suggestions are shrubs. Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), Turk's Cap, can grow leggy, but pruning keeps it bushier and it will bloom fairly readily in shady settings. Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac) and Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) both grow to around six feet and may be larger than you want. The Dwarf Palmetto is very slow-growing, but long-lived and evergreen.

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto)


These last two prefer more moist settings than the previous suggestions:

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)


More suggestions may be found by going to Explore Plants and selecting Recommended Species, where you will find a list of Deer Resistant Species. You can then narrow your search to Texas and restrict for your size, shade and soil moisture conditions.


Solidago nemoralis

Rudbeckia hirta

Aquilegia canadensis

Ruellia drummondiana


Salvia coccinea

Rhus aromatica

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Sabal minor

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Lobelia cardinalis



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