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Mr. Smarty Plants - Climbing vines that are deer resistant

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Friday - July 12, 2013

From: Columbia, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Deer Resistant, Vines
Title: Climbing vines that are deer resistant
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Please find plants that are climbing vines and are deer resistant

ANSWER:

Deer resistance is a relative thing, depending upon the availability (or not) of other more desirable food.  So there is no guarantee.  But I have in mind several vine species, ranging from the very deer-resistant Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) to Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), which deer love to nibble on.  The following species are probably in between in their palatability.  Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine), Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper), Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine), Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle), Clematis crispa (Swamp leatherflower) and Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet).

In my experience, deer do not bother Carolina jessamine or Crossvine, but they love Trumpet creeper.  Actually, that works out well, because Trumpet creeper tends to produce underground runners that send up shoots in areas where you don't want them to be.

You did not tell me what sort of site you have for the vines.  Some of the above species prefer full sun while others will grow in shade.  Some are evergreen and others deciduous.  Some grow to a greater height than others.  Reading about them on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database will give you the information you need to choose a vine suited to your needs.

I have observed that here in Texas (where the deer are rather small), any foliage at least 4 feet above the ground is not eaten by deer.  And they do not generally eat stems free of leaves.  So if you protect your vines until they grow high enough, you can enjoy most of the ones I have listed.

Most of the species listed above should be available at one of your local plant nurseries.  Some are shown in the images below.

 

From the Image Gallery


American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Swamp leatherflower
Clematis crispa

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

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