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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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Friday - September 25, 2009

From: Bastrop, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Evergreen deer resistant shrub for Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Bastrop TX and the deer have decimated the landscaping at the end of our sidewalk. I need to find compact, evergreen shrubs, (flowering would be a bonus), that will do well in shade and grow to be no more than 3'tall - and be deer-resistant.

ANSWER:

Here are several evergreen shrubs that meet at least some of your requirements fairly well:

The first plant that comes to mind is a dwarf cultivar of Morella cerifera (wax myrtle).  These are available in most nurseries.  They will grow in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) and are moderately deer resistant.  Be sure to ask for the dwarf cultivar; otherwise, you will have a shrub that will grow 6-12 feet high.

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) grows only to 3 or 4 feet, is highly deer resistant, but prefers full sun.

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) grows 3-6 feet high, is highly deer resistant and will grow in part shade.

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) is called bear grass, but isn't a grass; instead, it is a member of the Family Liliaceae (Lily Family) that grows to 1.5 to 2 feet.  It is evergreen, highly deer resistant and grows in part shade.

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita) grows to 1-2 feet and is highly deer resistant, but prefers full sun.

You might consider one of the yuccas.  Without the flower stalk they are usually less than two feet high.  Deer will not usually eat the foliage, but they do love the flower stalks.  Both Yucca rupicola (Texas yucca) and Yucca arkansana (Arkansas yucca) will grow in part shade. 

You can see other recommended choices for plants for Central Texas under "Just for Central Texas" on our Recommended Species page.  There is also a link to Deer Resistant Species on that page under "Special Collections", however there aren't many choices in either list for evergreen shrubs less than 3 feet high.

Here are some photos of the above plants from our Image Gallery:


Morella cerifera

Mahonia swaseyi

Mahonia trifoliolata

Nolina texana

Chrysactinia mexicana

Yucca rupicola

Yucca arkansana

 

 

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