Choosing Hardy Native Plants for Your Garden

      Late spring is a great time to plant new landscape plants. Local nurseries have many types of plants in-stock, so it should be easy to find the right plants to fill in that hole in the landscape or plant a whole new area. OSU Extension Service Community & Urban Horticulturist Weston Miller shared how your garden will benefit if, when choosing new landscape plants, you look for plants that are both drought resistant and pest resistant to get the most out of your new plants. Plants that are native to the Northwest grow well because they are adapted to the soil and climate conditions of our area. Native plants also provide habitat for beneficial insects and songbirds and can also be beautiful.

      o Some great evergreen native shrubs include: Oregon grape, Pacific wax myrtle, evergreen huckleberry and ceanothus. Attractive native deciduous shrubs include red flowering currant, Pacific ninebark, mock orange, and native viburnum. Kinnickinnick and spreading ceanothus are nice native ground covers.
      o There are many native herbaceous perennial plants that perform well in the landscape too. Look for yarrow, Oregon sunshine, Indian blanket, Douglas or Oregon iris, native strawberries, and native grasses like Idaho fescue.
      o For shadier areas, sword fern, fringe cup, bleeding heart, and columbine are good native plant choices.
      o Other adapted plants that are pest and disease-resistant include: Mint-family herbs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, agastache, and santolina are tough, short-lived perennial plants that need minimal water once established and also provide food for honeybees and other insects.
      o Choose other plants that come from Mediterranean climates in various parts of the world. Plants from these areas should tolerate our wet winters and dry summers.

      Regardless of what plants you choose, successful establishment of new plants begins with proper soil preparation and irrigation. Make sure that you have good drainage. Use raised beds if you are in doubt of your soil texture. Other tips:

      o Prepare the soil by putting 4-6 inches of compost on the soil surface. Add the compost with a digging fork or garden spade. Dig the compost into the soil throughout the planting area and not just in the planting hole.
      o The planting hole should be twice as wide and as deep as the plant that you are establishing. Make sure that the final soil level is about the same as the level in the container.
      o Make sure that you water your plants very well. At this time of year, fill the planting hole with water and let it drain before you plant. Also, dunk the container in a bucket of water and keep it submerged until it stops bubbling. These steps will ensure that wet roots are going into wet soil.
      o Make sure to water any plants that you install this spring at least weekly during the 2014 growing season. Hand water or use soaker hoses or drip irrigation.
      o Next year, most of the plants mentioned here will survive without supplemental irrigation since they will be well established.

      For any gardening or landscaping question, contact local Master Gardener volunteers. Master Gardeners are trained by OSU Extension service to help answer the public's questions about sustainable gardening. To find your local Master Gardeners click here.