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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - May 02, 2009

From: Fredericksburg, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer resistance of peonies in Virginia
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Are peony's deer resistant - I'm in Virginia

ANSWER:

There are 2 members of the Paeonia genus native to North America. Neither of them appear on our Deer Resistant Species list. Also, neither Paeonia brownii (Brown's peony) nor Paeonia californica (California peony) are native to Virginia. So, we're thinking you are asking about Paeonia lactiflora, which is native to Siberia, China and Japan. It is the large, showy flower you usually think of when you consider peonies.  At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are focused on the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. We are asked many, many questions about deer resistant plants, and our simple answer is there aren't many.

In trying to find some more information for you, since we have none in our Native Plant Database, of course, we found a site from a Deer Resistant Landscape Nursery that made some positive comments about the deer resistance of peonies. Another site from Northern Gardening.com with positive comments was Got a Deer Problem?

On the other hand, quoting from our own Deer Resistant Species list:

"Few plants are completely deer resistant. Several factors influence deer browsing including the density of the deer population, environmental conditions such as drought, and plant palatability. Deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough, leathery and/or hairy or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap."

Final answer: Who knows?


Paeonia brownii

Paeonia californica

 

 

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