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

Thursday - August 23, 2012

From: North Oaks, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Deer Resistant, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of St. Paul, MN. Since the hills are in the front of the house we would like a variety of colorful, attractive species to frame our midcentury rambler. Yet, we do not want deer to use the plants as their daily snack!

ANSWER:

You do realize that the double whammy of deer resistance and erosion control makes this a difficult question to answer. Let's start with the hardest one, deer resistance, and then see what plants native to Minnesota that are considered deer resistant will also work in erosion control. You should probably draw a rough map of your property indicating what areas are in full sun (6 hours or more of sun a day), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun) or shade (2 hours or less of sun). You can then specify those selections when you do your own search.

We will begin by going to our Recommended Species page, which is composed of many lists to help gardeners find good native plants for their needs. On that page, we will click on Deer Resistant Species, native plants which deer tend to avoid. This gives us 344 results. Using the sidebar on the right hand side of the page, click on Minnesota in the State drop-down menu. This list has 71 plants that resulted from that search. Select a plant, perhaps Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush) . Scroll down the webpage to Benefits, under which it says "Deer Resistance: High". Not all of the plants on the Deer Resistant lists will have a "High" classification, so you need to work through the list, selecting plants you might use and check their resistance possibilities. We are going to make a sample list of plants we find in this way. You will note there are a lot of grasses on this list, which is good because grasses, with their long fibrous roots, are very good for erosion control and deer seem to avoid the grasses. Since you will have no septic lines to deal with, as many property owners do, we we can also suggest some woody plants, trees and shrubs, that could work. Using this resource, you can  design your own garden. Please note this paragraph at the top of the Deer Resistant Species List:

"Deer Resistant Species

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."

Translation: If they can eat it, they will come.

One last thing. This is just a sample list, but you will have difficulty finding them or any others you may select from our Native Plant Database in your large commercial nurseries or home improvement stores. Go to our National Suppliers Directory and enter your town and state or your zip code in the "Enter Search Location" box. You will get a list of native seed suppliers, nurseries and consultants for your general area. There is contact information for each, so you can call or e-mail  before you go for information.

Plants with high deer resistance for Minnesota:

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Aristida purpurea (Purple threeawn)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss)

Coreopsis tinctoria (Plains coreopsis)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)

Euphorbia marginata (Snow on the mountain)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Physostegia virginiana (Fall obedient plant)

Ptelea trifoliata (Wafer ash)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, projected height and moisture needs.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Plains coreopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria



Snow on the mountain
Euphorbia marginata

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Fall obedient plant
Physostegia virginiana




More Erosion Control Questions

Erosion Control in Bartlesville OK
May 10, 2012 - What kind of plants can we use to stop erosion and loss of bank on a creek that is mostly shaded? Is there any free advice/plants for people that are losing land due to water levels rising/dropping?
view the full question and answer

Stream Bank Erosion Control for Bryan/College Station
August 16, 2012 - I live in the Bryan/College Station area and need a ground cover to abate erosion on the bank of an intermittent stream. The bank is shaded. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Erosion prevention on shady Pennsylvania stream
July 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a few species to plant along a stream channel to help reduce erosion during heavy rains. The soil is moist and in full shade. Ferns and thorny bushes are the only current vegetation...
view the full question and answer

Plants to control hillside erosion in Virginia.
November 21, 2007 - Good Morning, Mr Smarty Plants, I need your advice and guidance. I live in a condo complex in Virginia and we have a hill/slope that is eroding. It also has two very nice tall trees that partially sh...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping for slope in Kansas City
October 08, 2008 - We have a down sloping back yard and patio on the lower area. We need some water absorbing plants near the foundation and some in the front of the house, where water isn't a problem. We are allergic ...
view the full question and answer

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