Plant Preferences

Plants have specific preferences when it comes to the amount of sun and shade they get each day, their salt tolerance, moist or dry soil conditions, and which season they should be transplanted.

Here we provide several lists of plant preferences for various growing conditions and seasons in the northeastern United States as well as growth habits such as trees with surface rooting.

Due to varying microclimates and specific onsite conditions, these plant lists should be considered a basic guide, not the final word.  Bob

Spireas are deer-resistant shrubs.

Spireas are deer-resistant shrubs.


DEER-RESISTANT PLANTS

The most difficult list of all to prepare...
trying to name the plants deer won't eat, because under harsh winter conditions, they will browse on just about anything. That being said, our experience shows the least-preferred deer plants are those listed below.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Acer - Maple
Aesculus parviflora - Bottlebush Buckeye
Agastache - Hyssop
Ageratum - Ageratum
Antirrhinum - Snapdragons
Aralia spinosa - Devil's Walkingstick
Artemesia - Silver Mound
Astilbe - Astilbe
Baptesia australis - False Indigo
Berberis - Barberry
Betula - Birch
Buxus - Boxwood
Caryopteris - Bluebeard
Cephalotaxus harringtonia - Plum Yew
Cercis - Redbud
Chaemomeles - Quince
Chamaecyparis pisifera - False Cypress
Clethra alnifolia - Summersweet
Coreopsis verticillata - Threadleaf Coreopsis
Cornus - Dogwood
Cotoneaster - Cotoneaster
Craetegus - Hawthorn
Crocus - Crocus
Dicentra - Bleeding Heart
Echinacea - Coneflower
Elaeagnus - Russian Olive
Fagus - Beech
Forsythia - Forsythia
Fraxinus - Ash
Gleditsia - Honeylocust
Gingko - Gingko
Helleborus - Christmas Rose
Ilex glabra - Inkberry
Iris - Iris
Larix - Larch
Lavandula - Lavender
Leucothoe - Leucothoe
Ligularia - Ligularia
Liquidamber - Sweetgum
Liriodendron - Tulip Tree
Magnolia - Magnolia
Mahonia - Oregon Grape
Microbiota decussata - Siberian Cypress
Miscanthus - Maiden Grass
Myrica - Bayberry
Narcissus - Daffodil
Pachysandra - Pachysandra
Paeonia - Peony
Perovskia atriplicifolia - Russian Sage
Picea pungens - Colorado Blue Spruce
Pieris - Andromeda
Pinus mugo - Mugho Pine
Platanus - London Plane
Potentilla - Potentilla
Pyracantha - Firethorn
Rogersia - Rodgersflower
Rudbeckia - Rudbeckia
Salix - Willow
Salvia - Salvia
Sedum - Sedum
Spirea - Spirea
Stachys byzantian - Lamb's Ears
Syringa - Lilac
Thuja plicata - Western Arborvitae
Tilia - Linden
Ulmus - Elm
Viburnum - Viburnum
Vitex - Chaste Tree
Weigela - Weigela
Woundwort - Yarrow
Yucca filamentosa - Yucca
Zelkova - Zelkova
Order protective deer netting here


SALT TOLERANT PLANTS

Whether it's salt granules from deicing operations, or salt mist from highways, salt is brutal on most plants. Below is a list of plants considered to be most tolerant of salty conditions (sometimes gypsum is applied to lawns to counteract the colateral damage from salting sidewalks and roads). This list should only be used as a rough guide since exceptions may occur.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Aesculus hippocastanum - Common Horsechestnut
Amelanchier - Serviceberry
Amorpha fruiticosa - False Indigo
Aronia arbutifolia - Red Chokeberry
Betula - Birch
Carya cordiformis ovata - Bitternut Hickory/Shagbark Hickory
Catalpa speciosa - Northern Catalpa
Celtis occidentalis - Hackberry
Chionanthus virginicus - White Fringetree
Clethra alnifolia - Summersweet
Cotoneaster - Cotoneaster
Eleagnus - Russian Olive
Elymus arenarius - Blue Lyme Grass
Erica - Heath
Fraxinus - Ash
Ginkgo - Ginkgo
Gleditsia - Honeylocust
Gymnocladus - Kentucky Coffee Tree
Hamamelis - Witch Hazel
Hemerocallis - Daylily
Hippophae rhamnoides - Sea Buckthorn
Hydrangea - Hydrangea
Juglans nigra - Black Locust
Liquidamber styraciflua - Sweetgum
Magnolia - Magnolia
Miscanthus sinensis - Maiden Grass
Myrica pennsylvanica - Northern Bayberry
Nyssa sylvatica - Black / Sour Gum
Panicum virgatum - Switch Grass
Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Virginia Creeper
Philadelphus - Mockorange
Photinia - Photinia
Pinus mugho - Mugo Pine
Populus - Poplar
Potentilla fruiticosa - Potentilla
Quercus bicolor macrocarpa - Swamp White Oak/Bur Oak
Rhodotypos - Jetbead
Ribes alpinum - Alpine Currant
Rhus glabra/typhina - Smooth/Staghorn Sumac
Rosa rugosa - Rugosa Rose
Salix - Willow
Sambucus canadensis - American Elderberry
Schizachyrium scoparium - Little Bluestem
Spartina p. 'Aureomarginata' - Cord Grass
Syringa reticulata pekinensis - Japanese Tree/Peking Lilac
Tamarix ramosissima - Tamarix
Taxodium distichum - Bald Cypress
Viburnum dentatum/prunifolium - Arrowwood/Blackhaw Viburnum Waldstenia ternata - Barren Strawberry
Yucca - Yucca


SHADE TOLERANT PLANTS

Shade is one of the most limiting factors when trying to grow full, attractive plants, especially when it's dry shade. Below is a list of plants that will tolerate shade better than others.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Amelanchier - Serviceberry
Astilbe - Astilbe
Berberis - Barberry
Calycanthus - Sweetshrub
Celastrus - Bittersweet
Cercis - Redbud
Chionanthus - Fringetree
Clethra - Clethra
Cornus - Dogwood
Euonymus - Euonymus
Ferns - Ferns
Hamamelis - Witchhazel
Hedera helix - English Ivy
Hosta - Hosta
Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf Hydrangea
Itea - Itea
Kalmia - Mountain Laurel
Leucothoe - Leucothoe
Ligustrum - Honeysuckle
Mahonia - Oregon Grape
Pachysandra - Pachysandra
Pieris - Andromeda
Pyracantha - Pyracantha
Rhamnus - Buckthorn
Rhododendron - Rhododendron
Rhodotypos - Jetbead
Symphoricarpos - Snowberry
Taxus - Yew
Tsuga - Hemlock
Viburnum - Viburnum
Vinca minor - Myrtle


SHADE TOLERANT & DEER-RESISTANT

Shade is a big enough challenge when growing quality landscape plants, so finding ones that are also deer-resistant further shortens that plant list.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Astilbe - Astilbe
Berberis - Barberry
Cercis - Redbud
Cornus - Dogwood
Ferns - Ferns
Leucothoe - Leucothoe
Mahonia - Oregon Grape
Pachysandra - Pachysandra
Pieris - Andromeda
Pyracantha - Pyracantha
Viburnum - Viburnum
Vinca minor - Myrtle
Order deer and rabbit repellent here


PLANTS FOR DRY CONDITIONS

As weather patterns change, some regions have become hotter and drier for longer periods of time, so it is helpful to have a list of plants that best tolerate dry growing conditions.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Acer campestre - Hedge Maple
Ceanothus americanus - New Jersey Tea
Cornus drummondii - Giant Gray Dogwood
Diervilla lonicera - Bush Honeysuckle
Genista t. 'Royal Gold' - Royal Gold Woadwaxen
Koelreutaria paniculata - Golden Rain Tree
Lespedeza t. 'Gilbraltar' - Gilbraltar Bushclover
Maackia amurense - Amur Maackia
Maclura p. 'Whiteshield' - Whiteshield Osage Orange
Myrica pennsylvanica - Northern Bayberry
Quercus coccinea/macrocarpa - Scarlet/Bur Oak
Quercus prinus/rubra - Chestnut/Red Oak
Rhus - Sumac
Rosa rugosa - Rugosa rose
Tamarix r. 'Pink Cascade - 'Pink Cascade Tamarix
Viburnum setigerum - Tea Viburnum


PLANTS FOR WET CONDITIONS

While very few plants will tolerate soggy soil (wet feet) some varieties adapt better than others to prolonged wet soil conditions. Below is a general list of plants that will best tolerate wet feet.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Acer rubrum - Swamp (Red) Maple
Ajuga - Bugleweed
Amelanchier - Serviceberry
Aronia - Chokeberry
Asimina triloba - Paw Paw
Astilbe - Astilbe
Betula nigra - River Birch
Calycanthus floridus - Sweet Shrub
Cephalanthus occidentalis - Buttonbush
Clethra alnifolia - Summersweet
Chionanthus - Fringetree
Cornus alba/stolonifera - Redtwig/Dogwood shrub
Forsythia - Forsythia
Hemerocallis - Daylilies
Hosta - Hosta
Ilex verticillata - Winterberry
Itea virginica - Sweetspire
Lindera benzoin - Spicebush
Magnolia virginiana - Sweetbay Magnolia
Metasequoia - Dawn Redwood
Miscanthus - Maiden Grass
Myrica pennsylvanica - Northern Bayberry
Nyssa sylvatica - Black Gum
Platanus - Sycamore
Populus - Poplar
Quercus bicolor - Swamp White Oak
Salix - Willow
Sambucus - Elderberry
Taxodium distichum - Bald Cypress
Ulmus americana - American Elm
Viburnum dentatum - Arrowwood Viburnum
Viburnum lentago - Nannyberry
Viburnum trilobum - American Cranberry


SURFACE-ROOTED TREES

Some of the tree species most likely to produce surface roots are those that grow fast. Many of these same trees tolerate adverse growing conditions well, with production of surface roots being an aid to their survival.

ALTERNATIVES TO GROWING LAWNS UNDER TREES
Instead of trying to grow grass over these elevated root systems, sometimes it's better to plant a ground cover such as goldenstar (Chrysogonum virginianum), creeping lily-turf (Liriope spicata), Russian arborvitae (Microbiota decussata), Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens), Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis), creeping myrtle (Vinca minor), or barren strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata).

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Acer platanoides - Norway maple
Acer rubrum - Red maple
Acer saccharinum - Silver maple
Ailanthus altissima - Tree-of-heaven
Alnus spp. - Alder
Betula nigra - River birch
Celtis spp. - Hackberry
Fagus grandifolia - American beech
Gleditsia triacanthos inermis - Thornless honeylocust
Larix decidua - European larch
Liquidambar styraciflua - Sweetgum
Metasequoia glyptostroboides - Dawn redwood
Morus spp. - Mulberry
Picea pungens - Colorado spruce
Platanus spp. - Sycamore or London plane tree
Populus spp. - Poplar
Quercus palustris - Pin oak
Robinia pseudoacacia - Black locust
Salix spp. - Willow
Ulmus spp. - Elm
Taxodium distichum - Bald cypress
Tilia spp. - Linden


SPRING-ONLY TRANSPLANTS

The old rule of thumb is to only transplant fleshy-rooted trees and oaks in Spring. While fall transplants may succeed with special care, below is a list of plants more safely transplanted in Spring.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Betula - Birch
Cercis - Redbud
Cornus - Dogwood
Craetegus - Hawthorn
Liriodendron - Tulip Tree
Liquidambar - Sweetgum
Magnolia - Magnolia
Oxydendron - Sourgum
Platanus - Sycamore
Populus - Poplar
Prunus - Plum
Pyrus - Pear
Quercus - Oak
Salix - Willow
Zelkova - Zelkova


PLANTS RARELY GUARANTEED

The old saying goes, "Doctors don't guarantee life, so why should landscapers and nurserymen?" That being said, common practice in the nursery trade is a 1-year plant guarantee (or at least one growing season). Due to past experience from common planting failures, there are a few plants nurseries won't typically guarantee. Below is a list of these plants.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
Azalea - Azaleas
Cornus florida - Flowering Dogwood
Rhododendron - Rhododendron
Rosa - Roses
Tsuga - Hemlock


SHRUBS FOR WILDLIFE

A list of shrubs that favor wildlife with food and shelter.

BOTANICAL NAME - COMMON NAME
American Cranberry - Viburnum trilobum
Arrowwood Viburnum - Viburnum dentatum
Button Bush - Cephalanthus occidentalis
Choke Berry - Aronia arbutifolia
Hercules' Club - Aralia spinosa
Hornbeam - Carpinus caroliniana
Nannyberry - Viburnum lentago
Shrub Lespedeza - Lespedeza thunbergii
Silky dogwood - Cornus amomum
Winterberry - Ilex verticillata
Witch hazel - Hamamelis virginiana
Order book on native plants