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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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Monday - June 01, 2009

From: Valparaiso, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Deer resistant, fast growing trees for screening
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Deer resistant, fast growing, native plants (trees) as a visual block.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants assumes you want some recommendations for the description above?  So, there are a couple of ways to approach this problem.  First, we could go to our Recommended Species page where we find a link to "Deer Resistant - Native Plants That Deer Tend to Avoid" under SPECIAL COLLECTIONS.  This is a list of more than 340 native species that are deer resistant.  We can limit that list by using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choosing 'Indiana' from the Select State or Province option and 'Tree' from General Appearance.  This narrows us down to 9 species:

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) 

Celtis laevigata (sugarberry)

Crataegus viridis (green hawthorn)

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)

Populus deltoides (eastern cottonwood)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)

Viburnum rufidulum (rusty blackhaw)

The deer resistant plant list above doesn't contain all native tree species that occur in Indiana so we can take another approach by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and choosing Indiana from the Select State or Province option and then 'Tree' from Habit (general appearance).  This will give a list of more than 173 trees that are native to Indiana. Next we need to come up with a list of deer resistant trees native to Indiana.  There is a list on pp.14-15 of the USDA Wildlife Conflicts Information for Indiana.  Not all the plants on this list are native to Indiana, but by comparing the list to our COMBINATION SEARCH list we can find which ones are.  The trees on this list are ranked:

RARELY DAMAGED:

Betula papyrifera (paper birch)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

SELDOM SEVERELY DAMAGED:

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood)

Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust)

Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)

Pinus resinosa (red pine)

Sassafras albidum (sassafras)

To help you make a choice from the trees of these lists you will need to compare the GROWING CONDITIONS shown on their pages to that of your site.

Finally, you need to realize that even plants that are labeled "highly resistant" to deer are sometimes eaten by deer when environmental conditions have made their preferred food difficult to find.

 

 

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