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 06, 2009

From: Rindge, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen shrubs for Rindge, NH
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We are building a new house and I want to get shrubs/bushes that stay green all year long (ie:hollyberry)to put in front and around our house. Which of these would go closest to the house? I'd like to know which ones attract deer since we'll be surrounded by 30 acres of forest-I don't want the deer to eat my landscaping efforts.


We're not quite sure what you mean by which ones would go closest to the house. If you are looking for deer resistance, and find some shrubs not very resistant, they should go closest to the house, where human activity and lights at night might discourage the deer. Might. In our Special Collections, we have a list of Deer Resistant Species. To quote from the introduction to that 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. Try using some of the plants listed here to minimize deer damage to your landscape."

We are going to our Deer Resistant Species list, and search on New Hampshire and shrubs (Habit) and see what we can find. Evergreen in USDA Hardiness Zone 5a (average annual minimum temperatures -20 to -15 deg F.) could be an issue, so we might also look at some conifers, which will get pretty big but might work for the borders of your property. Okay, that yielded exactly one plant suggestion:

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) - evergreen, 6 to 12 ft., blooms white, pink June to September, high water use, part shade or shade, deer resistance moderate

So, we're going back to our Native Plant Database and try again, selecting on New Hampshire and shrubs (for Habit) in hopes of finding some evergreen plants that we think might not be as palatable to deer. From that, we got these evergreen shrubs, but no word on the deer resistance of any of them.

Arctostaphylos alpina (alpine bearberry) - less than 6 inches tall, leaves turn scarlet in fall and persist for some time, blooms white, pink April and May

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) - evergreen to 3 ft. tall, spreads up to 15 ft., blooms white, pink March to June

Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf) - evergreen, to 3 ft. high, blooms white April to May, water use high, sun

Gaultheria hispidula (creeping snowberry) - evergreen to 6 inches high, blooms white April, May, medium water use, shade - pictures

Ilex glabra (inkberry) - evergreen, 6 to 12 ft. tall, blooms white May to July, water use high, part shade

Juniperus communis var. depressa (common juniper) - spreading evergreen, 3 to 6 ft. tall, sun, prickly, aromatic, which could keep deer off, maybe. Pictures

Some tree possibilities

Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar) - evergreen, 40 to 75 ft tall

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) -evergreen, 30 to 40 ft., low water use, sun, part shade or shade, another prickly aromatic juniper

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) - evergreen to 30 ft., medium water use, sun, part shade, shade

Ilex opaca (American holly) - it was mentioned that a holly was desired. This one is evergreen, spine tipped leaves to discourage deer. However, it lacks solid cold hardiness to Zone 5. With luck, and planted in a sheltered space, plus some milder winters, this could live a long time. It is native to North America but not to New Hampshire.

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Arctostaphylos alpina

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Chamaedaphne calyculata

Ilex glabra


Juniperus virginiana

Thuja occidentalis

Ilex opaca








More Shrubs Questions

Male and Female Rhus virens Differences?
June 27, 2015 - I would like to plant a Rhus virens in my yard to attract birds. I want to make sure I get a female plant so there will be berries. How can I tell a male from a female plant?
view the full question and answer

Drought-tolerant trees for planters in San Diego
August 09, 2012 - We need some ideas for a drought tolerant tree that will provide shade (4 foot raised planters in sunny location) not get too big when mature, and not too messy. San Diego
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub from Kuala Lumpur
April 24, 2011 - I am seeing too much of shrubs used for landscaping that looks like dill, its stems are pretty woody and its leaves looks and smells like dill, are they the same? Can I consume this shrub that looks l...
view the full question and answer

Need a drought resistant, maintenance free tree in Thomasville, GA.
April 20, 2012 - I have been through many tree forums and asked several nurseries about a good tree to plant but nobody has provided an adequate answer and I hope you can help. I live in SW Georgia (Zone 8) and need ...
view the full question and answer

Wilting stems on beautyberry in Georgetown, TX
August 16, 2009 - Last summer I discovered that a 4-year old beautyberry had one (of many) stems that died. Leaves on this single stem wilted and dried up. This year the same happened to two or three stems. The rest of...
view the full question and answer

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