Native Plants

      Native plants are growing in popularity thanks to their beauty, adaptability and value to wildlife. Metro natural gardening specialist Carl Grimm showed us what to plant.

      Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soils. They'll also never become invasive in our local natural areas like English ivy and Himalayan blackberry did after they escaped from home gardens long ago. Best of all, native plants support local wildlife like few other plants can. Many butterflies depend on specific native plants for food when they are caterpillars, and beautiful beneficial birds, bees and other bugs use natives for food and shelter.

      "Native" means from around here: the more local the better
      When we say "native plant" we mean one that has grown in an area historically and naturally without human introduction. In many ways, the more local, the better. Using plants native to your ecoregion is a good place to start since an ecoregion has similar soils, climate, geology and wildlife throughout. In the Portland metropolitan area, we are mostly in the Willamette Valley ecoregion, with our edges in the Coast Range and Cascades. The new booklet has a great map to see the ecoregions.

      Always remember - "Right plant, right place"
      For best results, always select plants that will thrive in the sun, soil and space you have in your yard. For even better wildlife habitat, make sure to have different heights of plants from trees to shrubs to groundcovers.

      Trees for shade and nesting spots
      Vine maple fits in small spaces, loves the shade and has beautiful fall color.
      Red alder is a tall slender tree that is easy to grow in dry or wet soil.
      Western hemlock is a majestic conifer providing great shelter for pest-eating songbirds.

      Shrubs for shelter, nectar and fruit
      Dull Oregon grape is a beautiful little evergreen shrub for shade.
      Red flowering currant is a fast-growing deciduous shrub with spring flowers for hummingbirds.
      Salal is another evergreen shrub that gives fall fruit for wildlife and shelter year 'round.

      Annuals and perennials for beauty and bounty
      Douglas aster is a great fall-blooming, sun-loving perennial that gives nectar for pollinators.
      Meadow checkerbloom is a pink perennial providing food for good bugs in sun or part shade.
      Deer fern is a compact evergreen for shady spots and rain gardens.

      Get your free copy of the new Native plants for Willamette Valley yards booklet today!
      Simply call Metro at 503-234-3000, or download from This new resource is a collaboration of 23 agencies and organizations and it features a new plant key to help you select the right plant for the right place more easily, plus maps and more plants than ever.

      Buy native plants at local nurseries, at the Friends of Tualatin Hills Nature Park Fall Native Plant Sale 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, October 5. Or check out the Tryon Creek Watershed Council's Two Dollar Native Plant Sale.