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
3 ratings

Friday - May 06, 2011

From: Parsippany, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer resistant plants for a bioswale in NJ
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We live in Morris County, New Jersey, on the edge of a nature preserve, i.e., deer are a bane to everything we plant. We recently had to have a swale dug on the west end of our house to deal alleviate water issues with our basement. The swale works great, but because our soil has such a high clay content the drainage rate is extremely poor and we have substantial pooling than can take at least a day or two to drain after a good rain (and can remain boggy for another day or two afterward). Are there any highly deer resistant, thirsty shrubs that we could plant either on the bank of the swale or in it to help abate the water issue? The area is pretty much in the sun all day. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Well ... you have two fairly significant challenges here.

I think you probably already know that there is no such thing as a highly deer resistant shrub.  When they are hungry enough they will eat whatever is there, whether it is fuzzy, thorny or even poisonous.  Once that is all gone, they ring your doorbell and ask for lettuce!  I shouldn't joke about them ... they are a huge problem all over North America ... this Green Guru has battled them in gardens in NJ, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ontario.  The damage they do to the cultivated landscape is enormous, but the damage they are doing to the understory and forest floor of the woodland ecosystem in the northeast now will affect the future of that ecosystem in ways that it is hard to imagine at this point.

You may find these links helpful.  One is an article by Horticulture magazine and the other a list for your area put together by Rutgers.

Your second challenge is the swale.  As you say, you are looking for plants that are adapted to the dry conditions that persist most of the time but can handle periods of extreme wetness.  It so happens that planting a bioswale or rain garden is a very effective way to slow down stormwater run-off so that the water will infiltrate the soil instead of washing soil and pollutants into sewers and ultimately streams and lakes. 

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has published a very informative article about rain gardens and how to construct them as well as a plant list you will find helpful. Hopefully, you will find some plants on both lists!

You can find more information about rain gardens and sustainable gardening at the Landscape for Life website.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Have deer eaten the flowers of my Esperanza?
June 16, 2009 - My wife and I planted an Esperanza plant and it seemed to be doing well. It had numerous blossoms and we were excited at the prospect of having a beautiful plant that was alledgedly a "deer proof" ...
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

Looking for evergreen deer proof plants for full sun
October 17, 2007 - Which plants would be DEER PROOF, will be with almost full sun and will not die completely during winter? besides some plastic ones =) It doesn't matter the size, flowers or not.
view the full question and answer

Overwintering possumhaw seedlings indoors in Pflugerville, TX.
September 30, 2009 - Can possumhaw (Ilex decidua) seedlings be kept indoors over the winter? The goal is to protect them from deer and there is no other good option (i.e., no protected outdoor porch, etc.), unless you ca...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for Toronto, Ontario
March 02, 2009 - What are the native trees and shrubs that are resistant to deer browsing and rubbing?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center