Friday, May 25, 2007

Deer Resistant Shrubs for Zone 5

We are trying to replace a dead Arborvitae hedge (death due to deer browsing) with another non-invasive hedge plant. What would you recommend? I saw some beautiful dwarf quince bushes at White Flower Farm website…do you know if deer eat quince? We are located in zone 5, in Northwestern Ct. and our property abuts a fairly large nature preserve so we do share our land with the creatures who live in it. Currently, the aroborvitae hedge is quite an eyesore as they have been nibbled to brown repeatedly over the past 5 years. What about dwarf lilacs? DO deer like to eat those? The soil is a bit acid due to the dominance of a very large Norway spruce and a very large hemlock.

As I am sure you know, living right near a nature preserve does make the challenge greater and the list less guaranteed, but hopefully I can suggest a few different shrubs that might stand a chance.

I would stay away from quince (Chaenomeles spp.). Lilacs (Syringa spp.) do stand a much better chance, even though some references said to stay away from the cultivar ’Miss Kim’.

I’m glad that you are aware of the threat of invasives and avoid planting them. These deer resistant recommendations I would definitely stay away from: rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus); Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia); and burning bush (Euonymus alatus).

Since deciduous shrubs seem to be ok with you, I would suggest researching these shrubs or small trees:
smoketree (Cotinus) – prefers sun, a great plant for the foliage color and the plume of flowers
serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
shadbush (Amelanchier Canadensis) – both provide a very natural look but can be used as a looser kind of hedging
bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) – the strong fragrance of the stems and foliage deters deer very well in my opinion
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum spp.) - make sure you pick a species hardy to zone 5
cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.)

Regarding evergreens, consider:
leucothoe (Leucothoe spp.) – great woodland option that can tolerate some shade
mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) – does best if you have a little elevation to your property
Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) - I am not sure this is cold hardy enough for zone 5, confirm with your local garden center

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