Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - November 17, 2009

From: Hillsborough, CA
Region: California
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant groundcover for sunny hillside in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

we are looking for a deer resistant, drought resistant ground cover that we can grow from seed. we have a large,partial sunny hillside, well drained,that is cover with oak leaves and pine needles..and weeds. any suggestions? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Grasses and sedges are one possibility.  Deer generally avoid eating grasses.  Here are a few native to your area and generally available as seeds:

Danthonia californica (California oatgrass) and you can see a photo here

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Calamagrostis foliosa (leafy reed grass) 

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass)

Deschampsia elongata (slender hairgrass)  

Carex praegracilis (clustered field sedge) and here is more information and photos

Carex pansa (sanddune sedge) and here is an indepth article with photos by David Amme from Bay Natives. 

You can see more possibilities for grasses available in your area at Yerba Buena Nursery in Woodside, California and Bay Natives in San Francisco, one of our Associate SuppliersLarner Seeds in Bolinas, California, another of our Suppliers, lists most of the grasses recommended above and other California grass seeds for sale.

Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita and Escondido, California, another of our Suppliers, has an excellent article, California Gardens with Deer Problems, that has further recommendations for deer-resistant native plants.  Here are a few from that article that would be good groundcovers:

Clinopodium douglasii [syn. = Satureja douglasii] (yerba buena) and here are photos and more information

Monardella antonina (San Antonio Hills monardella)—deer avoid most members of the mint family (Family Lamiaceae) because of their strong flavor.

Ferns are also plants that deer avoid.  Since they aren't flowering plants they can't be planted from seed.

Polystichum munitum (western swordfern)

Dryopteris arguta (coastal woodfern)

Adiantum jordanii (California maidenhair) and more information and photos

These ferns as well as some of the other recommendations are available as plants in your area at Bay Natives in San Franciso and Yerba Buena Nursery in Woodside.   You can search for other suppliers in your area that might have seeds or plants of the above recommended species in our National Suppliers Directory.

 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Groundcovers for hillside in Northern California
November 19, 2012 - 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 hillsid...
view the full question and answer

Control for slugs and snails in Arisaema triphyllum
June 06, 2007 - I had a beautiful Jack In The Pulpit growing and something has eaten it. What can I do to help prevent that next year? I live in Northwestern PA.
view the full question and answer

Texas natives that attract butterflies but not deer
December 13, 2012 - I'd like to have some plants in my garden that are butterfly attractors, but that whitetail deer won't like. I can find lists of butterfly plants, and lists of deer-resistant plants -- is there a li...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, Shaded Privacy Hedge for Wakefield RI
September 12, 2013 - We recently removed the dead undergrowth of white pines that were used for privacy. We need advice as to what type of evergreen would be suitable for growth beneath the branches above. It is VERY shad...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistance of Calylophus berlandieri
March 25, 2007 - Is Calylophus drummondii deer resistant? We have a lot of mule deer in se Arizona? Thanks in advance for your advice.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.