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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








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