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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native deer-resistant plants for Virginia

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Wednesday - September 26, 2012

From: Salem, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant, Shrubs
Title: Native deer-resistant plants for Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Roanoke/Salem Virginia and want to plant a few plants native to the area along the front yard rock wall. I would prefer they be the same, deer resistant, around 5-6 feet tall max and flowering at some point in the year. I will plant either 6 or 9 - depending on how far apart they need to be planted. I would like to know what time of year to plant them as well? Thanks!!

ANSWER:

Our Native Plant Information System has a list of Deer Resistant Species.  Use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to find ones that are native to Virginia by choosing your state from the Select State or Province option and then select "Shrub" under General Appearance.  This will narrow the list to 11 species.  You will have to match the other characteristics of your site to the requirements of the various shrubs.  Some of these have maximum heights that are taller than your preference, but most can be trimmed to stay the height you want.  Here are a few recommendations from the list:

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is evergreen.  It can grow to over 12 feet high, but it grows very slowly and can be pruned.  The female plants produce beautiful red berries (if there is a male plant in the vicinity) that are attractive throughout the winter.

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush) is deciduous and grows from 6 to 10 feet.   Its blooms range from orange to violet and are showy in late spring.

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is evergreen with inconspicous white flowers that yield pale blue berries on female plants.  It grows to 6 to 12 feet.  The leaves when crushed are very aromatic.

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) is deciduous, grows 6-12 feet high and has aromatic leaves and dark red berries.  It also has colorful fall foliage.

Aesculus pavia (Scarlet buckeye) has spectacular flowers.  It is deciduous and the leaved begin to fall by the end of summer.   It can grow as high as 40 feet.

Edge of the Woods Nursery in Pennsylvania has a list of Deer Tolerant Plants (Nothing is Deer Proof) that includes these shrubs:

Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush) is deciduous, grows to 6 to 12 feet and has showy flowers.

 Dirca palustris (Eastern leatherwood) is deciduous, 3 to 6 feet and has showy flowers that last a long time.  Here is more information form University of Connecticut.

Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub) is deciduous, 6 to 12 feet with red flowers.

Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush) is deciduous, 6 to 12 feet with clusters of tiny, yellow flowers and red fruits.

The time to plant shrubs in your neighboring state, West Virginia, (according to Planting Trees and Shrubs from West Virginia University Extension Service) is "in the fall after they have become dormant (about early November) or in the spring before new growth appears (around late March)."  You might also find the articles, Shrubs: Functions, Planting and Maintenance and A Guide to Successful Pruning, Pruning Shrubs, from Virginia Cooperative Extension helpful.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Scarlet buckeye
Aesculus pavia

Coastal sweet pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

Eastern leatherwood
Dirca palustris

Eastern sweetshrub
Calycanthus floridus

Northern spicebush
Lindera benzoin

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