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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.

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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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Thursday - July 08, 2010

From: Post Falls, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Deer Resistant, Shade Tolerant, Ferns, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?

ANSWER:

There are several ways to approach finding deer resistant plants for Idaho.  First of all, please visit the Idaho Recommended page where you will find a list of commercially available native plants suitable for landscaping in Idaho.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option in the sidebar to pick out the criteria you need.  For instance, we know that if the plants are going to grow under grand fir trees, they need to be able to grow in the shade or part shade so you will choose 'Shade...' and 'Part shade...' under LIGHT REQUIREMENT.  You could also choose other criteria that suit your site. As you scroll down the list that this generates and see something you like, open the page and scroll down to the BENEFIT section.  Often (but not always) you will find a Deer Resistant: entry.  Here are a couple of suggestions from the list:

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan), highly deer resistant 

Zinnia grandiflora (Rocky Mountain zinnia), highly deer resistant 

We have a list for Deer Resistant Species  on our webpage, but many of those plants aren't native to your area.  You can, however, use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to pick the plants that are Idaho natives under SELECT STATE OR PROVINCE. Here area couple from that list:

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot), highly deer resistant

Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed), highly deer resistant

I did find a Deer Resistant Plants list and accompanying advice about dealing with deer from your neighboring state, Washington. The list does have plants that are not native to Idaho. You can check their nativity by entering their botanical (or common) name in our Native Plant Database and then scrolling down the plant's page to the DISTRIBUTION area. Here are a few plants from the Washington list:

Mahonia nervosa (Cascade barberry) and here is more information.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) and here is more information.

Polystichum munitum (western swordfern) and here is more information.

Ribes sanguineum (redflower currant) and here is more information.

I also found a list of Deer-Resistant Plants for Central Oregon, from Oregon State University Extension Service.  You should note that the list from Oregon includes some plants that are cultivated non-native plants and some that are native to North America, but not to Idaho.   Again, you can check their nativity by entering their botanical (or common) name in our Native Plant Database. If it is in our Native Plant Database, it is native to North America and you can check to see if it is native to Idaho by scrolling down the plant's page to the DISTRIBUTION area.

Additionally, the Idaho Native Plant Society has a number of excellent native plant guides.  In particular, see  Landscaping with Native Plants of the Intermountain Region and Native Plants of Northern Idaho for Landscaping and Restoration.  The University of Idaho Extension Service also has a publication, Bulletin 862, Short-Season, High-Altitude Gardening: Landscaping with Native Plants. None of these lists indicates whether or not the plant is deer resistant, but you can check them against the deer resistant lists given above.

Finally, you can read an earlier Mr. Smarty Plants' question about deer resistant plants in Idaho.

 

From the Image Gallery


Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Plains zinnia
Zinnia grandiflora

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Plains coreopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Western swordfern
Polystichum munitum

Redflower currant
Ribes sanguineum

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