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?

Share

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

Saturday - January 16, 2010

From: Sussex, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Pruning Holly after Deer Browse
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Deer have been eating my Holly Bushes. Can I prune now in January? I live in the North of New Jersey. Will they come back fuller? I just planted them in spring last year. How can I get them fuller

ANSWER:

How you deal with this issue really depends on what type of holly you are talking about as well as how extensive the damage is.  We cannot give you any specific advice without seeing the actual plants, so you are really better off seeking advice from an experienced neighbor, county extension service or local garden center. 

As you have seen first hand, when deer are hungry they will eat even prickly, tough holly leaves.  And they love the tender new ones that the tree or shrub regenerates even more.  They are creatures of habit and once they have found something they like, they will come back for more.  So it is likely that they will be back for the fresh growth in the spring.  However,that also means that if you can convince them that your plants are not worth eating, they will skip your property on their nightly rounds. 

It is not a good idea to prune the plants now.  Pruning stimulates growth and if you have early warm weather followed by a freeze you could have new growth too early that would subsequently freeze, causing even more damage to the plant.

There are many, many deer deterrent methods and there are a number of plants that deer prefer over others.  For some reason they are region specific and somewhat hit and miss so again, we recommend you consult a local expert.  Your county extension service will be able to provide a list of plants that are somewhat less palatable to the deer in your area and some suggestions on what deer deterrent methods people in your area have had more success with.

You can take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone with this problem ... I have had deer eat  plants in my gardens in New Jersey, Texas and Ontario!

 

 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Bur oak bark damage done by deer
February 03, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Just noticed that deer have been rubbing the bark on good sized, but young, bur oaks planted last spring. Mostly in one spot on one side of the trunk. Will this kill the ...
view the full question and answer

Information about Maui Red Starflower
April 29, 2008 - I can't find any information on MAUI RED STARFLOWER. I found some in Houston Texas & the card says sun, blooms spring to frost, showy bloom, good in clusters. MY QUESTION was to find out if it is a...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant native plants for Michigan
June 06, 2008 - I am looking for a deer-resistant ground cover for a mid-to-northern Michigan (lower peninsula), which can grow in completely sandy soil. Thanks for any advice.
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant and Drought Tolerant Pink-Flowering Shrub for Austin, TX
April 15, 2013 - Is there a pink-flowering bush that is deer resistant and drought tolerant that would do well in Austin, TX? If not pink flowering, any color of a flowering bush is fine.
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant plants for steep hillside erosion control
June 03, 2008 - Hello, I am looking for advice on native plants to control erosion on a steep hillside in the western cross timbers. This is a shady area under post oaks and cedar elms, in shallow sandy soil mixed w...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center