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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - November 19, 2012

From: Janesville, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Lists, Deer Resistant, Groundcovers
Title: Groundcovers for hillside in Northern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have read numerous posts on here, but I have not found my exact situation. I live in Northern California. I am looking for some type of ground cover to grow on a hillside. Directly above the hillside are oak trees and pine trees. I have a herd of deer that basically live on my property. I want to plant something that they can enjoy and so can I. Is there such a thing? If not, I would like to know what to plant that is low to the ground, can withstand freezing temperatures, highly deer resistant and spreads quickly.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is a little confused!   Do you want plants that the deer will eat, i.e., plants that they "enjoy" eating? Or, do you want deer resistant plants?  Well, whichever it is I think there are a few of each listed below.  All of these native plants appear in Lassen County on the USDA Plants Database distribution maps.

Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana artemisia) is highly deer resistant according to the list from Shaw Nature Reserve of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Atriplex confertifolia (Shadscale) is NOT deer resistant.  They will browse this plant.  Here is more information from Utah State University.

Ceanothus prostratus (Prostrate ceanothus) and you can read more about it from Las Pilitas Nursery and from Seven Oaks Native Nursery.  It rates an 8 on the Las Pilitas' Deer and Fire List with 10 being most resistant and 1 being least resistant.

Eriophyllum lanatum (Common woolly sunflower) is very deer resistant according to the list from Blackfoot Native Plants.  Here is more information from American Beauties Native Plants.

Krascheninnikovia lanata (Winterfat) is NOT deer resistant.  They will browse this plant.  Here is more information from Utah State University.

Lupinus argenteus (Silvery lupine) is deer resistant.

Mahonia repens (Creeping barberry) is deer resistant according the University of California's Marin Master Gardeners.

Mahonia aquifolium (Hollyleaved barberry) rates a 6 on Las Pilitas' Deer and Fire List.

Stanleya pinnata (Desert princes' plume) rates a 5 on Las Pilitas' Deer and Fire List.

Symphoricarpos mollis (Creeping snowberry) is deer resistant according the University of California's Sonoma County Master Gardeners.  You can read more about it from Theodore Payne Foundation and from CalFlora.

Yerba Buena Nursery in Woodside, CA also has a Deer Resistant Native Plant List and you can learn more about deer resistant native plants from the California Native Plant Society's Oh Dear! Deer Resistant Native Plants.

 

From the Image Gallery


Louisiana artemisia
Artemisia ludoviciana

Shadscale
Atriplex confertifolia

Common woolly sunflower
Eriophyllum lanatum

Winterfat
Krascheninnikovia lanata

Silvery lupine
Lupinus argenteus

Creeping barberry
Mahonia repens

Holly-leaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

Desert princes' plume
Stanleya pinnata

Creeping snowberry
Symphoricarpos mollis

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