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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 13, 2009

From: Kewadin, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer resistant low-lying plants for Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I want to create a bed of low lying plants (under 4 ft.)in the front of my cottage. The soil is completely sandy and gets eastern sun in the AM. There are many deer in the area.


First of all, please visit our Recommended Species page and select Michigan from the map or pull-down menu.  This will give you a list of more than 150 commercially available native plants for landscaping in your state.  You can modify that list to include only plants that suit your needs by using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option.  For instance, you might want to pick "Herb" or "Fern" under Habit (general appearance) and/or "Part shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day" under Light requirement.  Next, you need to check to see that the plants you choose are deer resistant.  There is a Deer Resistant Species list on the Wildflower Center webpage.  For a list more geared to your area there is Easywildflowers (self-described as a site "for and about wildflower seeds and wildflower potted plants native to the Midwest and Eastern USA" with a Deer Resistant Native Plants list.  Also, there is a list of Deer-resistant Plants from the Deer-Resistant Landscape Nursery in Clare, Michigan, but you need to be aware that not all the plants listed there are native to Michigan.

Here are a few recommendations from these lists:

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asarum canadense (Canadian wildginger)

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Liatris aspera (tall blazing star)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)

Deer generally avoid ferns, so you could also use ferns (e.g.,  Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern)

and Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)).

Aquilegia canadensis

Asarum canadense

Asclepias incarnata

Asclepias tuberosa

Coreopsis lanceolata

Liatris aspera

Lobelia siphilitica

Monarda fistulosa

Rudbeckia hirta

Sanguinaria canadensis

Athyrium filix-femina

Polystichum acrostichoides




More Deer Resistant Questions

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

Deer resistant plants for erosion control on steep hill
June 28, 2009 - I would like control a steep hill behind my house that is red clay, northern exposure with little sun. What plants would you recommend that deer will not eat?
view the full question and answer

Is Ruellia deer resistant
June 19, 2008 - Is Ruellia deer resistant? I have white Ruellia, 18 -20 inches tall.
view the full question and answer

Are birdhouse gourds deer-resistant?
January 24, 2009 - Bird house gourds: they smell nasty (to this human being) but I NEED to know if deer are as repelled as a human by the strong odor put off by the plants.
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant native plants for Eagle Scout project in Urbandale IA
April 27, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My son is planning his Eagle Scout Project doing some landscaping for the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. The facility has asked him to use only plants native to Iowa. Can you su...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center