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Mr. Smarty Plants - Deer resistant plants for campground in West Virginia

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Friday - February 24, 2006

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer resistant plants for campground in West Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 what plants to use so that we can draw the small wildlife and the deer but we have a problem finding plants that the deer will not destroy. We can plant those types away from our sites and still enjoy the deer population. We live in the Grafton area of West Virginia which is about 25 miles south of Morgantown and the W. Va. University. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

ANSWER:

First of all, there are no plants that are absolutely deer proof. When food is scarce they eat many things that they wouldn't touch in times of plenty. With that caveat, here is a short list of plants that are attractive to insects, birds and other mammals but that deer tend to avoid:

1. Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) with flowers that attract butterflies and other insects.
2. Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) with flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
3. American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) with berries for birds and small mammals.
4. American holly (Ilex opaca) with berries for birds and small mammals.

Here are a few plants that deer don't usually eat and are attractive, but may or may not attract other small wildlife:
5. Yarrow, or milfoil, (Achillea millefolium)
6. Any of the Genus Iris, such as Virginia iris (Iris virginica)
7. Any of the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family) such as Lyre-leaf sage (Salvia lyrata) or Hedge nettle (Stachys tenuifolia)

You can find a list of deer-resistant Texas native plants (some of which are also native to West Virginia) on the Native Plant Society of Texas web site. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden also publishes a list of deer resistant plants; however, please be aware that not all the plants on the Cincinnati list are native plants. You might also like to check out two articles, "Creating a Wildlife Garden" and "Wildlife Gardening Bibliography", in our Native Plant Library.
 

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