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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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Tuesday - April 30, 2013

From: Fairfield, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Shade Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Evergreen Hedge Suggestions for CT
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I think I am asking for a lot, but here we go… Is there a deer tolerant evergreen that can grow in the shade and create a hedge of 5 feet tall here in CT? I am not opposed to ivy covering a fence if that is what it takes?

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: Connecticut, Habit – shrub, Duration – perennial, Light requirement – shade, Leaf Retention – evergreen and Size – 3-6 ft.

Once a preliminary list is compiled, the plants have to be assessed for their deer-resistance. Look at the list of deer resistant species that is on our website.

Unfortunately no native plants for your area fit the criteria of being evergreen, deer resistant, shade tolerant, and 5 feet tall.When the search was broadened to include taller plants (without consideration for deer resistance) many Juniperus (junipers), Pinus (pines), Tsuga (hemlock), Thuja (arborvitae), Picea (spruce) and even a holly (Ilex opaca) appeared but they are much taller than your five foot tall hedge requirement.

Also there are several native vines that would cover a fence nicely but none that are evergreen in your region.

So, the shade tolerant, deer resistant, deciduous vine possibilities that could be used as a screen with a solid fence (for year round impact) include:

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet) woody vine to 30 ft. In the fall showy orange capsules split to reveal crimson arils. Deciduous. Deer resistant.

Clematis virginiana (Devil’s darning needles) fine-textured vine to 15 ft. A profusion of small white flowers in summer followed by a plume-like feathery achene.Deciduous. May be browsed occasionally by deer.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) deciduous vine to 40 ft. Brilliant mauve, red and purple fall color. Moderately deer resistant.

Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) deciduous vine to 25 ft. Large drooping clusters of lilac flowers after the plant is in leaf and on new wood. Deer resistant.

 

From the Image Gallery


American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

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