Deer Resistant Ground Cover Plants for Part Shade

valygirlJune 2, 2014

Hi, I would appreciate suggestions on the subject -- areas with some morning sun & some filtered sun all day long under elm trees. Low growing ground covers, perennials or evergreens, no more than 2 feet tall. As deer resistant as possible. Plants that are doing well so far in the area are Bishops Weed, Geraniums, Snow in Summer, Valerian. Could use ideas for more plants! Thank you...

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi ValyGirl,

If you have Bishop's Weed, a/k/a Snow-on-the-Mountain, in there, that stuff is EXTREMELY invasive and will wind up taking over the entire area. The comment in my "most used" perennial "picture" book, has this comment by the description of Aegopodium!

"If you are moving away from neighbors that you can't stand, plant this on the property line just before you go. You can rest assured you will have gotten even for every wrong, no matter how great."

If you've put it in fairly recently, you may want to reconsider your decision to grow it before it becomes well established. It is extremely difficult to eradicate when it starts to spread.

Two of the things you already have, Geraniums and snow-in-summer are listed on my list of deer resistant plants and will probably work for you--depending on your deer! No plant is "deer proof," and what they will or won't eat depends on the time of the year and stage of growth, the availability of other food, and the deer themselves! A couple more short groundcover things on my list are Ajuga and Lamium maculatum, both are sun or shade and both should do well with the light you've described--and both are controllable! Galium, sweet woodruff is another one that should do well in your light, but it too can become invasive after 2 or 3 years--but nothing like Aegopodium!

Linked below is the Rutgers "deer resistance" list. It's the best one I've ever found, and you can vary your parameters when looking for things, and the plants are rated by "degree" of "resistance!" The things I've listed are all on either the "perennials" list, or the "groundcovers" list, so be sure you check all the different permutations so you don't miss something!

I don't know what you mean by valerian. That's a common name used for at least two different things that I know of, and both of those are at least 3' tall, so I kind of doubt that you have either of those! Neither of them (Valeriana officinalis and Centranthus ruber) are listed on the Rutgers list.

Check out their list and see if you can find something you really like--but if you decide to leave the Aegopodium in there, know that in a few years it will completely take over anything else you have planted there and the other things will "struggle" at best, and die at worst.

Hope you wind up with some things you really like,

Here is a link that might be useful: Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 6:50PM
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Yes, I've heard that before about the Bishop's Weed, did not know that about Snow-In-Summer. The BW has been there for 3 years & has only spread to about 4 feet wide. This is a rock area near the patio. It was intended by the landscaper (6 years ago) to be xeric, mostly perennials. But I've cheated & am replacing each year with more shrubs. Here are a few pictures...

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 10:13AM
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OK, I guess they only let you upload one photo. Here is the 2nd. In the first photo, you can see the Bishop's Weed way in the back. As far as invasive, does it suddenly happen after a few years? I am puzzled. The Snow-In-Summer has popped up a few little reseedings, but it's kind of nice. There is the Valerian (pinkish red flowers) & yes it is over 2 feet tall, but that's OK. The areas I want lower plants are in front of a water feature. You can't see it, but it starts about 6 feet behind that BW. We don't want our view blocked of the waterfall. In this second photo, you can see that I am replacing perennials with small spireas, which seem to be handling part shade well so far.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 10:22AM
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Wow, Skybird, I just printed out the 9 page "Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance" -- this is really great! Thank you!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 10:28AM
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