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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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Friday - June 14, 2013

From: Medina, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Drought & Deer Resistant Shrub for Shade in Medina, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We are dedicated to native plants in Medina, but are desperate to find a drought and deer resistant shrub for shade. Would we be too far off base with an oleander bush? We know birds and most butterflies hate them. Please advise.

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants is gratified to hear of your dedication to native plants. Don’t despair – the Wildflower Center has the tools to suggest a number of possible shrubs that are drought resistant and reasonably deer resistant.

First of all, I’m pretty negative on using Oleander.   It does repel birds, butterflies and presumably deer, but do you really want to use a non-native that is poisonous also?  Our attitude about this North African introduction is summarized pretty well in the first part of this earlier response.  

To make some more positive suggestions, the Wildflower Center has built a search capability right into it’s “Recommended Species” page.  As you are in Texas, there are special collections that have been created for our ecoregions.  Medina is in the Edwards Plateau ecoregion.

Then it is simply a process of limiting the search to Shrubs,  “Dry” Soil Moisture, and “Shade” as Light Requirement, and then considering the results.  Deer Resistance is sometimes mentioned as a “BENEFIT”.   When I did this, I was returned five candidates that approach your requirements:
Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea),
Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon),
Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) [high deer resistance],
Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac),
Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) [moderate Deer resistance and an interestingly different choice!]

Hopefully, one of these will be a superior candidate for your shrub!

 

From the Image Gallery


New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

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