Deer Resistant Trees And Shrubs For Iowa

J&J's deer small croppedHome gardeners should realize that no plant species is completely deer-resistant. Deer will browse even on the most resistant plants when faced with starvation. However, careful plant selection, along with repellents and fencing, can reduce deer damage.

Damage caused by deer browsing on trees and shrubs can be a problem in some rural and suburban areas in Iowa. The amount of damage depends upon seasonal factors, weather conditions, availability of alternative foods, and plant palatability.

Prevention of deer browsing is difficult. Home gardeners may be able to avoid some deer damage by careful plant selection. Horticulturists and wildlife specialists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have identified trees and shrubs that are rarely or seldom, occasionally, and frequently damaged by deer. Those plant species adapted to Iowa are listed below.

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Plants Rarely or Seldom Severely Damaged By Deer
Common nameBotanical name
BarberryBerberis spp.
Redosier DogwoodCornus sericea
ForsythiaForsythia spp.
HoneylocustGleditsia triacanthos
BeautybushKolkwitzia amabilis
Norway SprucePicea abies
White SprucePicea glauca
Colorado SprucePicea pungens
Mugo PinePinus mugo
Austrian PinePinus nigra
Scotch PinePinus sylvestris
Common LilacSyringa vulgaris
Plants Occasionally Severely Damaged By Deer
Common NameBotanical Name
White FirAbies concolor
Red MapleAcer rubrum
Silver MapleAcer saccharinum
Sugar MapleAcer saccharum
Common HorsechestnutAesculus hippocastanum
ServiceberryAmelanchier spp.
CotoneasterCotoneaster spp.
WitchhazelHamamelis viginiana
Rose of SharonHibiscus syriacus
HydrangeaHydrangea spp.
PrivetLigustrum spp.
Eastern White PinePinus strobus
PotentillaPotentilla fruticosa
Douglas FirPseudotsuga menziesii
White OakQuercus alba
Northern Red OakQuercus rubra
WillowSalix spp.
Anthony Waterer SpireaSpiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’
Bridalwreath SpireaSpiraea pruniflora
Persian LilacSyringa x persica
Japanese Tree LilacSyringa reticulata
American LindenTillia americana
Canadian HemlockTsuda canadensis
Old Fashioned WeigelaWeigela florida
Plants Frequently Severely Damaged By Deer
Common NameBotanical name
Norway MapleAcer platanoides
Eastern RedbudCercis canadensis
ClematisClematis spp.
Corneliancherry DogwoodCornus mas
Winged Euonymous (Burning Bush)Euonymous alatus
Apples, CrabapplesMalus spp.
Cherries, PlumsPrunus spp.
RhododendronsRhododendrons spp.
Hybrid Tea RoseRosa x hybrid
YewsTaxus spp.
American ArbovitaeThuja occidentalis

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