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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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Tuesday - August 14, 2012

From: Media, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Shade Tolerant
Title: Deer resistant, drought- and shade-tolerant plant for Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, I need a deer/drought resistant, shade tolerant, rocky soil perennial. I would like it to have some winter appeal. I live outside of Philadelphia, PA. Thank you so much for your time!

ANSWER:

You can find a list of Deer Resistant Species on our Recommended Species page; however, I urge you to read our "disclaimer" concerning "deer resistant plants":

"Few plants are completely deer resistant. Several factors influence deer browsing including the density of the deer population, environmental conditions such as drought, and plant palatability. Deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough leathery and/or hairy or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap. Try using some of the plants listed here to minimize deer damage to your landscape."

To find plants that meet your other criteria, use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose "Pennsylvania from the Select State or Province option, "Perennial" from Lifespan, "Shade" and/or "Part shade" from Light Requirement and "Dry" from Soil Moisture.  Here are some suggestions from that list:

GROUNDCOVER PLANTS:

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage) has evergreen leaves and violet/purple blossoms in the spring.

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) may remain green in mild winters.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) is evergreen.

HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS (with showy summer blossoms):

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

SHRUBS:

Ptelea trifoliata (Wafer ash)

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) has colorful fall foliage and red berries that persist through the winter.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) has pink/purple berries that stay on the bush through the winter.

You might find the answer to a previous question about deer resistant plants from someone in Pennsylvania of interest.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Wafer ash
Ptelea trifoliata

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

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