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Mr. Smarty Plants - Deer-resistant plants for Williams, OR

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Monday - January 24, 2011

From: Williams, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant plants for Williams, OR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Williams, Oregon. I would like a listing of deer resistant, drought tolerant,evergreen, fast growing, native plants that can be used as a privacy screen on property perimeter.

ANSWER:

It's going to be hard to find even one plant, let alone a list that fill all those requirements. We will start with the hardest (we think it's the hardest): Deer resistance. On our Recommended Species page, we have a list of plants that are considered to have some deer resistance. For extra emphasis, we want to quote the paragraph at the top of that list:

"Few plants are completely deer resistant. Several factors influence deer browsing including the density of the deer population, environmental conditions such as drought, and plant palatability. Deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough leathery and/or hairy or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap. Try using some of the plants listed here to minimize deer damage to your landscape."

The first thing you will do on that list is sort to find plants native to Oregon. Go to the sidebar on the right side of the page and indicate Oregon on the drop-down box for the State. Because you need it for a screen, we would suggest you choose "Shrub" on Habit or General Appearance. If there are other considerations, such as amount of light or moisture of soil, you can indicate that, too. Josephine County, in the southwest corner of the state, is in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b, which means it will be easier to find evergreen plants. We would suggest you used a mixed selection of shrubs, both to avoid one disease or problem damaging your whole hedge, but also for variety of color and texture. We will walk you through one plant and provide a suggested list of others. It will be up to you to follow each plant link to our page on that plant to find out when it blooms, if it is evergreen, water and sunlight requirements, and expected size.

Alas, when we tried this method, we got exactly one shrub that was on the deer resistant list for Oregon, Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush). By reading that page, we noted that it grew to 6 to 10 ft. tall, forms dense thickets, needs sun (6 or more hours of sun a day) or part shade (2 to 6 hours a day), has low water requirements but likes moist soil, can even grow in an aquatic situation. And it's deciduous. Dang.

So, we'll come at it from a different direction, by going to our Native Plant Database, Combination Search, selecting Oregon and, under General Appearance, "shrub." Then, you can take a look at our list, check the pages on each plant, and see what looks promising for your requirements. Once you have begun using this database, you'll learn you can find what you need in native plants, and make your specifications. Your best bet on avoiding deer damage is, again, vary the plant selections and avoid planting anything that is especially vulnerable for deer browsing. Our trial search yielded 154 possibilities; we tried to find as many evergreen shrubs as we could for your sample list.

Shrubs for southwest Oregon:

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Arctostaphylos glandulosa (Eastwood's manzanita)

Arctostaphylos patula (Greenleaf manzanita)

Cercocarpus montanus (Alderleaf mountain mahogany)

Ceanothus velutinus (Snowbrush)

Mahonia aquifolium (Holly-leaf oregon-grape)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastwood's manzanita
Arctostaphylos glandulosa

Greenleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos patula

Alderleaf mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus

Snowbrush
Ceanothus velutinus

Hollyleaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

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