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
1 rating

Tuesday - August 14, 2012

From: Media, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Shade Tolerant
Title: Deer resistant, drought- and shade-tolerant plant for Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hello, I need a deer/drought resistant, shade tolerant, rocky soil perennial. I would like it to have some winter appeal. I live outside of Philadelphia, PA. Thank you so much for your time!


You can find a list of Deer Resistant Species on our Recommended Species page; however, I urge you to read our "disclaimer" concerning "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."

To find plants that meet your other criteria, use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose "Pennsylvania from the Select State or Province option, "Perennial" from Lifespan, "Shade" and/or "Part shade" from Light Requirement and "Dry" from Soil Moisture.  Here are some suggestions from that list:


Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage) has evergreen leaves and violet/purple blossoms in the spring.

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) may remain green in mild winters.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) is evergreen.

HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS (with showy summer blossoms):

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)


Ptelea trifoliata (Wafer ash)

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) has colorful fall foliage and red berries that persist through the winter.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) has pink/purple berries that stay on the bush through the winter.

You might find the answer to a previous question about deer resistant plants from someone in Pennsylvania of interest.


From the Image Gallery

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Wafer ash
Ptelea trifoliata

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

More Deer Resistant Questions

Using Sound to Repel Deer
July 15, 2013 - We have several motion activated water scarecrows for deer intrusions and have heard about sound scarecrows. Do you know if they are effective and do they bother pets such as cats, birds, etc.?
view the full question and answer

Perennial ground cover for hillside in Holmdel NJ
April 25, 2014 - I live in NJ. I would like to use a perennial ground cover for my landscaping bed on a hill with full sun and deer resistant. It's a good size landscaping bed that is facing east (southeast). What...
view the full question and answer

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

Arizona centaury near Lost Maples from Austin
November 05, 2012 - I found a clump of Arizona centaury growing/blooming beside a road near Lost Maples State Nat. Area in the Texas hill country last week. Centaurium calycosum is the scientific name. I have 2 questio...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant evergreen shrubs for Saratoga Springs, NY
April 20, 2009 - Deer resistant, evergreen shrubs for Saratoga Springs, NY.
view the full question and answer

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