Susceptibility of Plants to Deer Damage–2003

James City County-Williamsburg Master Gardeners conducted a survey of local residents in order to identify the shrubs, perennials, bulbs and annuals that are often or sometimes browsed by deer in this area, as well as those that usually are not. Among the participants of the survey were landscapers and other professionals, Master Gardeners, members of all local garden clubs, and other residents of neighborhoods where deer damage occurs. The lists below are based on the participants’ personal experiences while living in this area.

The likelihood of any plant being browsed by deer is affected by many variables, including whether the plant is located near the path frequently followed by deer, density of deer population, degree of hunger, availability of preferred food, and the season of the year. Remember: although they have preferences, if deer are hungry enough, they will eat just about anything.

Rarely Damaged: The following plants were reported to be Rarely Damaged by the majority of survey participants. A small number reported they were sometimes or often browsed.

Shrubs Reported Rarely Damaged

  • Abelia (Abelia)
  • Alberta spruce (Picea glauca albertiana)
  • Barberry (Berberis spp.)
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.)
  • Bird’s nest spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’)
  • Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
  • Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
  • Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.)
  • Chaste bush (Vitex)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)
  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
  • Daphne (Daphne spp.)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
  • Fothergilla (Fothergilla)
  • Gardenia (Gardenia)
  • Holly:
    • Burford (Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii’)
    • Carissa (I. cornuta ‘Carissa’)
    • Chinese (I. cornuta)
    • Compacta (I. crenata ‘Compacta’)
    • English (I. aquifolium)
    • Foster (I. x attenuata ‘Foster Holly’)
    • Greenleaf (I. opaca ‘Greenleaf’)
    • Helleri (I. crenata ‘Helleri’)
    • Hetzi (I. crenata ‘Hetzi’)
    • Inkberry (I. glabra)
    • Japanese (I. crenata)
    • Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria)
  • Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
  • Laurel (Laurus spp.)
  • Leucothoe (Leuchthoe spp.)
  • Lilac (Syringa spp.)
  • Loropetalum (Loropetalum)
  • Magnolia (Magnolia spp.)
  • Mock orange (Philadelphus spp.)
  • Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
  • Nandina/Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)
  • Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium)
  • Pieris (Pieris japonica)
  • Poet’s laurel (Danae racemosa)
  • Pyracantha/Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
  • Russian olive (Elaeaganus angustifolia)
  • Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius)
  • Spirea (Spiraea spp.)
  • St. Johnswort (Hypericum spp.)
  • Sweet pepperbush (Clethra)
  • Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
  • Viburnum:
    • Doublefile (V. plicatum f. tomentosum)
    • Judd (V. x judii)
    • Koreanspice (V. carlesii)
    • Shasta (V. plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Shasta’)
  • Wax Myrtle/Bayberry (Myrica cerifera)
  • Weigelia (Weigelia florida)
  • Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)
  • Witch-hazel (Hamamelis spp.)

Perennials Reported Rarely Damaged

  • Ajuga/Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
  • Artemesia (Artemesia spp.)
  • Basket of gold (Alyssum saxatile)
  • Beard tongue (Penstemon spp.)
  • Beebalm (Monarda spp.)
  • Bellflower (Campanula spp.)
  • Bergenia (Bergenia)
  • Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.)
  • Blue star (Amsonia spp.)
  • Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Catmint (Nepeta spp.)
  • Christmas rose, Lenten rose (Helleborus spp.)
  • Clematis (Clematis spp.)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)
  • Cranesbill geranium (Geranium spp.)
  • Creeping phlox (Phlox stolinifera)
  • False indigo (Baptisia spp.)
  • Fern:
    • Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
    • Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum)
    • Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
    • Southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillis-veneris)
  • Foamflower (Tiarella spp.)
  • Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis)
  • Geum (Geum spp.)
  • Heather (Calluna spp.)
  • Iris (Iris spp.)
  • Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida)
  • Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina)
  • Lavender (Lavendula spp.)
  • Lavender cotton (Santolina spp.)
  • Monkshood (Aconitum spp.)
  • Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)
  • Ornamental Grass:
    • Blue fescue (Festuca ovina var. glauca)
    • Fountain grass (Pennisetum spp.)
    • Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)
    • Silver grass (Miscanthus spp.)
  • Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)
  • Peony (Paeonia spp.)
  • Periwinkle (Vinca minor, Vinca major)
  • Pincushion flower (Scabiosa spp.)
  • Pinks (Dianthus)
  • Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)
  • Poppy (Papaver spp.)
  • Purple cone flower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Russian sage (Pervoskia)
  • Sage (Salvia spp.)
  • Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum)
  • Speedwell (Veronica spp.)
  • Spotted dead nettle (Lamium maculatum)
  • Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis)
  • Sundrop (Oenothera spp.)
  • Tickseed (Coreopsis)
  • Verbena (Verbena)
  • Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
  • Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
  • Yarrow (Achillea spp.)
  • Yucca (Yucca)

(Note: our survey did not include edible plants, therefore culinary herbs were not listed. However, it is generally agreed that most culinary herbs are deer resistant.)

Bulbs Reported Rarely Damaged

  • Amarcrinum (Amarcrinum)
  • Autumn daffodil (Sternbergia)
  • Canna (Canna)
  • Crocus (Crocus spp.)
  • Daffodil (Narcissus spp.)
  • Fall crocus (Colchicum)
  • Fritillaria (Fritillaria spp.)
  • Gladiola (Gladiolus spp.)
  • Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa spp.)
  • Grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.)
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)
  • Magic lily/Resurrection lily (Lycoris squamigera)
  • Naked lady/Magic lily (Amaryllis belladona)
  • Ornamental onion (Allium spp.)
  • Red spider lily (Lycoris radiata)
  • Shamrock (Oxalis)
  • Snowdrop (Galanthus spp.)
  • Snowflake (Leucojum)
  • Squill (Scilla)
  • Striped squill (Puschkinia spp.)
  • Wind Flower (Anemone)
  • Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Annuals Reported Rarely Damaged

  • Ageratum/Floss flower (ageratum houstonianum)
  • Annual pinks (Dianthus spp.)
  • Annual vinca (Catharanthus roseus)
  • Blue Daze (Evolvus ‘Blue Daze’)
  • Browallia (Browallia Speciosa)
  • Cockscomb (Celosia argentea)
  • Coleus (Coleus)
  • Cosmos (Cosmos spp.)
  • Dusty miller (Senecio cineraria)
  • Fairy foam flower (Scaevola)
  • Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana)
  • Four o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa)
  • Lantana (Lantana camara)
  • Larkspur (Consolida)
  • Marigold (Tagetes spp.)
  • Million Bells (Calibrachoa)
  • Moss rose (Portulaca)
  • Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)
  • Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens)
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
  • Spider flower (Cleome)
  • Sweet Allysum (Lobularia maritima)
  • Zinnia (Zinnia)

Frequently Damaged: The following plants were reported to be Frequently Damaged by the overwhelming majority of survey participants

Shrubs Reported Frequently Damaged

  • Aucuba (Aucuba japonica)
  • Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
  • Indian hawthorne (Rhaphiolepsis spp.)
  • Rose (Rosa spp.)

Perennials Reported Frequently Damaged

  • Autumn Joy (Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)
Bulbs Reported Frequently Damaged

  • Lily (Lilium spp.)
  • Tulip (Tulipa spp.)


Annuals Reported Frequently Damaged

  • Impatiens (Impatiens)
  • Pansy (Viola spp.)
Mixed Results: Liriope was reported frequently damaged by a few more survey participants than those who reported it rarely damaged; additionally, many others reported occasional damage. Of the remainder of the plants in the Mixed Results category, a majority of survey participants reported they were rarely damaged; however a number of participants who live in neighborhoods where deer pressure is particularly strong reported damage occurred frequently or occasionally.

 

Shrubs
Mixed Results Reported

  • Burning bush (Euonymus alatus)
  • Camellia (Camellia japonica)
  • Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
  • Flowering quince (Chaenomeles spp.)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
  • Holly
  • Hoogendorn holly (Ilex verticillata ‘Hoogendorn’)
  • Needlepoint holly (I. cornuta ‘Needlepoint’)
  • Nellie Stevens holly (I. crenata ‘Nellie R. Stevens’)
  • Japanese Cleyera (Ternstroemia gymnanthera)
  • Kerria (Kerria japonica)
  • Ligustrum/Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
  • Photinia (Photinia)
  • Red twig dogwood (Cornus alba)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Sasanqua (Camellia sasanqua)
  • Viburnum tinus (Viburnum laurustinus)

Perennials
Mixed Results Reported

  • Aster (Aster spp.)
  • Astilbe (Astilbe spp.)
  • Black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)
  • Blue phlox (Phlox divaricata)
  • Candytuft (Iberis spp.)
  • Chrysanthemum/daisy (Chrysanthemum)
  • Coral bells (Heuchera spp.)
  • Dahlia (Dahlia)
  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)
  • Liriope/lilyturf (Liriope spp.)
  • Tall summer phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Bulbs
Mixed Results Reported

  • Caladium (Caladium)
  • Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
  • Annuals
    Mixed Results Reported

  • Corn flower/Bachelor’s button (Centaurea cyanus)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium)
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus)
  • Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
  • Petunia (Petunia)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
  • Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batata)
  • Wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens)

Our sincere thanks to all who participated in our survey and to those who advised and encouraged us.

James City County-Williamsburg Master Gardeners