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?


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
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

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

Rattan vine for deer in Washington County, TX
December 17, 2010 - My property in Washington County has a lot of very old rattan vine, much of which is 3" in diameter. All of the leaf and berry production on these vines is well over 50' above the ground. I manage...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant native plants for privacy fence in Bandera, TX
March 24, 2008 - I am trying to have a living privacy fence of some type of evergreen shrubs that would grow about 6ft tall and that would be deer resistant. It would be good if didn't need a lot of maintenance. Do y...
view the full question and answer

Deer and rabbit repelling plants at nature sanctuary in Waterford VA
May 11, 2010 - We have established a native pollinator garden at our nature sanctuary. Last summer deer and perhaps rabbits devastated it. Now people are proposing surrounding it with boxwood which deer don't like-...
view the full question and answer

Are Verbena Annuals Deer Resistant?
March 25, 2015 - Are Verbena Estrella Pink Star annuals deer resistant?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center