Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - January 02, 2010

From: Town of Holland, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Native grasses for New York to feed deer
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What native grasses do you recommend to encourage deer forage in feed plots?

ANSWER:

Grasses are, generally, a very small percentage of the deer's diet.  For instance, the Texas Department of Wildlife's publication "White-tailed Deer Management in the Texas Hill Country" says that, since mature grasses are not easily digested by deer, they tend to eat grasses only when they are young and tender.  In fact, grasses make up less than 10% of their diet at any time of the year. They are more inclined to eat forbs (broadleaf herbaceous plants generally thought of as weeds or wildflowers) and browse (leaves and twigs of shrubs and trees).  

That said, here is a list of grasses native to New York that deer will eat when they begin to sprout in the spring and are young and tender.  As the grasses mature and go to seed, they have the added benefit of being attractive to birds and small mammals. 

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass)  Not only will the deer eat the young foliage of gamagrass, but they also love to eat the corn-like seed grains.

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Native forbs are more likely to attract the deer to your feed lot than any grasses you plant.   Here are a few New York native forbs that you could plant that deer like to eat:

Desmodium canadense (showy ticktrefoil)

Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke)

Chelone glabra (white turtlehead)

Impatiens capensis (jewelweed)

New York trilliums, such as Trillium cernuum (whip-poor-will flower) and Trillium grandiflorum (white trillium).

Finally, here is a list of Winter Deer Foods, featuring browse—shrubs and trees, compiled by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Since you are involved in setting up and maintaining a food plot for deer, it would probably be a good idea to read Deer Feeding Regulations from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

You can also read more about Food Plots for White-tailed Deer from Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, but you should realize that most of the plants they recommend (e.g., alfalfa, the clovers and soybeans) are not native to New York or North America.

Here are photos of the plants above from our Image Gallery:


Elymus canadensis

Andropogon gerardii

Sorghastrum nutans

Tripsacum dactyloides

Panicum virgatum

Bouteloua curtipendula

Desmodium canadense

Helianthus tuberosus

Chelone glabra

Trillium cernuum

Trillium grandiflorum

 

 

 

 



 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Help! The deer are eating my landscape.
March 14, 2004 - Help! The deer are eating my landscape. Is there anything I can plant that they won’t eat?
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant Plants for Newton Square, PA
August 25, 2014 - I'm looking for highly deer resistant plants native to PA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Connecticut Plants for a Steep Slope
September 09, 2015 - I am looking for the best plants to retain a steep, dry, fully shaded slope in zone 5, Connecticut. It must be deer resistant. Plant height is not a factor.
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant native ground cover for part sun in Lago Vista TX
May 01, 2010 - Looking for a ground cover in an area that gets partial sun, is level and good drainage. Area is 10' x 20'. Thought about Trachelospermun Asiaticum (Asiatic Jasmine) but what ever I go with it has t...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering possumhaw seedlings indoors in Pflugerville, TX.
September 30, 2009 - Can possumhaw (Ilex decidua) seedlings be kept indoors over the winter? The goal is to protect them from deer and there is no other good option (i.e., no protected outdoor porch, etc.), unless you ca...
view the full question and answer

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