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
3 ratings

Tuesday - March 15, 2011

From: Romeo, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer Damage to Pencil Holly in Michigan
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus


I have 5 sky pencil holly bushes that are about 3 feet tall each..they don't grow very fast. I was looking forward to them reaching the 7 feet mark one day, as they are going to serve as a screen behind a statue. We live in the woods and the deer ate half of the foliage off of them and some of the tops of the branches. It's been a rough winter here in Michigan. They look pathetic now..do you think they will come back/recover this spring? Thank you for your time.


Pencil holly is native to Japan and we are only able to answer questions about plants native to the United States. However it is my personal experience that, unless you provide protection for your plants, deer will eat most of them. I recently planted around 200 trees and shrubs on a new property and ended up having to build a little circular fence around each tree/shrub to protect it from deer.  And if any branches grew out through the wire, the deer ate them.

The branches on evergreens will not grow back and you will no longer have a screen to the ground. And if the trees without tops even live, they will probably  be distorted. Contact a nursery or your county agriculture agent for more help.


More Deer Resistant Questions

Is it deer or ducks eating plants in Granbury, TX?
May 18, 2009 - I have some salvia and coreopsis that were recently beheaded along with some blooms on Knockout roses. I had just recently put out some Deerscram, but we've had some ducks visiting recently. Could ...
view the full question and answer

Height of plastic tree guards to protect against deer
August 27, 2008 - How high do the plastic tree guards used to prevent deer rubbing need to be? I live in northeastern Pa.
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant groundcover for Tampa, Florida
June 06, 2009 - I live in Tampa, FL and have a deer problem. I was wondering if you would give me some suggestions for deer resistant ground covers that are hearty and flower but most of all "DEER RESISTANT"!!! ...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants from New Braunfels TX
August 31, 2012 - I have a 1/2 yard covered by a tree, shady. Bermuda grass previous owner planted has all turned brown this summer. I don't have lots of money to work with but would love to landscape that side of fr...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant native plants for Eagle Scout project in Urbandale IA
April 27, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My son is planning his Eagle Scout Project doing some landscaping for the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. The facility has asked him to use only plants native to Iowa. Can you su...
view the full question and answer

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