En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - January 30, 2012

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant, Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What shrubs can I plant on a wet slope that gets partial sun that will help control erosion? They need to be something the deer won't eat! We have lots of deer.

ANSWER:

Let's begin with the hardest part of your question first-deer resistant. You do know, we are sure, that there few plants that deer won't eat. We have a list of Deer Resistant Plants, with 344 plants on it. When we sorted that list by Pennsylvania and part shade (2-6 hours of sun a day) we got a list of 62, but we knew from experience that many of those were listed as  "moderate deer resistance," and that's not what you are looking for. So we looked again at plants native to Pennsylvania that we knew were highly resistant and came up with a list of 12 plants of various habits.

Please heed the paragraph that leads into our list of deer resistant plants:

"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."

So, with a palette of 12 plants to work from (and we will list them), we can try to establish how good they would be at controlling erosion. You may notice from our list that there are a number of grasses listed as highly deer resistant. That is good news, because grasses are also the most effective plants at controlling erosion with their long fibrous roots, hold their place in the soil year-round and are attractive landscape elements, and deer tend not to browse grasses.

Shrubs that spread by roots and form thickets:

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Grasses with deep fibrous roots:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Tree:

Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)

Wildflowers:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin)

Ratibida columnifera (Mexican hat)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Follow the plant links to our webpage on each plant to determine how well it will work for the area you are concerned with. You can then go to our National Suppliers Directory, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environment consultants. All have contact information and can give you information on plants for your specific area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

Mexican hat
Ratibida columnifera

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Replacing St. Augustine grass from Dallas TX
April 10, 2014 - Dear Mr. Pants, we are replacing dying St. Augustine grass in a small, sunny back yard with ground cover. What are your recommendations for a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover? We will till a...
view the full question and answer

Erosion tolerant plants for shade from Kerrville TX
August 06, 2013 - We have just cleared a lot of cedar out of a small draw and would like to know the best groundcovers, shrubs, etc. to plant to hold the soil. Deep shade most of the day.
view the full question and answer

Plants for slope on Orcas Island, WA
July 21, 2011 - Hi! What a great site! Okay, I have a home on Orcas Island, WA. We live here from about June through September, but only visit once a month or so the other times of the year. We are looking for somet...
view the full question and answer

Need some help with a Buffalo grass planting in Salado, TX
October 23, 2009 - Recently we planted buffalo grass sod in the spring of 2007. During the summer I had a problem with barnyard grass due to a lot of rain. During 2008 I had a problem with nut grass. I had been advise...
view the full question and answer

Native plants to provide nitrogen for compost in Houston
March 27, 2010 - I leave my clippings on the lawn so I don't have enough 'green' for my compost. I'd like to plant an unobtrusive area with some native that I can mow on a monthly basis. The area is in partial...
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