En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 28, 2009

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer resistant plants for erosion control on steep hill
Answered by: Nan Hampton


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?


Grasses are ideal for erosion control because of their extensive fibrous root systems.  Additionally, deer rarely eat grasses.  Below are grasses native to Pennsylvania that will grow in clay soils in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day).

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Deer also rarely eat ferns and ferns are ideally suited for shady sites.  Here are a few that are native to Pennsylvania.

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Osmunda regalis (royal fern)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)

Woodwardia areolata (netted chainfern)

Here are other plants that you could add to the grass or fern mix that are native to Pennsylvania and deer resistant.

Amorpha fruticosa (desert false indigo)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies)

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage)

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)

Bouteloua curtipendula

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Schizachyrium scoparium

Osmunda cinnamomea

Osmunda regalis

Pteridium aquilinum

Woodwardia areolata

Amorpha fruticosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Monarda fistulosa

Oenothera speciosa

Ratibida columnifera

Phyla nodiflora

Salvia lyrata

Solidago nemoralis







More Deer Resistant Questions

Why is Rhus aromatica more deer resistant from Seattle
December 07, 2009 - I have a large area that I would like to cover with Rhus aromatica. My landscaper says that in his experience, Rhus typhina and glabra in this area are heavily browsed by deer. I noticed in your dat...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for campground in West Virginia
February 24, 2006 - We spend the summers at a campground as permanent campers. We fix up our sites to be a pleasure to spend our time smelling and see the wild life come and perch around the area. We would like to know...
view the full question and answer

Native deer-resistant plants for Virginia
September 26, 2012 - I live in Roanoke/Salem Virginia and want to plant a few plants native to the area along the front yard rock wall. I would prefer they be the same, deer resistant, around 5-6 feet tall max and flower...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistance of non-native Loropetalum
April 01, 2008 - I love Loropetalum (Plum Delight). Is it Deer Resistant?
view the full question and answer

Deer deterrent for Texas Persimmon
September 23, 2004 - The deer have destroyed my Texas Persimmon by standing on their hind legs and pulling down the branches--either ripping them off entirely or twisting them. I didn't realize the persimmon fruit would...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center