How to Garden With Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Overview

Gardening with native plants supports native species of insects, birds and butterflies. In addition, using plants that have adapted to an area means they will be well suited for rainfall, periods of dry weather, soil nutrients and temperature. This cuts down on the need for irrigation and fertilizers. Pacific Northwest natives thrive in the mild climates and often-heavy rainfall of the area. Summers in this area tend to be dryer than the winter months. Frost and snow, while common in winter, are often mild. See the Resources section for a list of Pacific Northwest native plants.

Step 1

Plant red flowering currant shrubs around the back of a garden bed or on a sloped area of the garden. This large, flowering shrub grows up to 6 feet tall and has a rambling, tangled appearance. This Pacific Northwest native prefers rocky, well-draining soil and full sun. Other shrubs native to the Pacific Northwest include the Oregon grape, Pacific rhododendrons, red elderberry, mock orange and the rambling Nootka rose. Plant native shrubs in the fall; the heavy winter rains will help the plants get established before the next spring growing season.

Step 2

Grow an orange honeysuckle vine near a structure. This vine climbs shrubs, trellises and sheds and adds a splash of color with its bright orange flowers. This Pacific Northwest native grows well in partial shade and moist conditions. A favorite of hummingbirds, the orange honeysuckle will attract native wildlife to your garden. Plant native vines in the fall before the winter rains.

Step 3

Plant low-growing ground cover natives in the spring after the last frost has passed. Many low-growing plants, like the wild strawberry, propagate themselves by sending out underground roots--ideal if you want to cover an area of the garden. Native strawberries have delicate white flowers and small, sweet red berries. Vanilla leaf is a delicate ground cover with lush, green foliage. Another popular choice is the native spreading stone cropper, a delicate succulent sedum that grows low to the ground. Most ground covers thrive in partial to full shade and damp soil.

Step 4

Put native, ornamental grasses in the garden to add texture and variety. Plant grasses in full sun and damp soil. Plant hardy grasses any time of year that the ground is workable. Dewey's sedge is an attractive, clumping grass.

References

  • King County (Washington): Native Plant Guide/Red Flowering Currant
  • King County (Washington): Native Plant Guide/Native Plant List
  • Pacific Northwest Native Wildlife Gardening: Why Garden With Natives?

Who Can Help

  • King Country: Native Plant List
  • The United States National Arboretum: USDA Planting Zones Map
Keywords: Pacific Northwest plants, gardening with natives, native Northwest plants

About this Author

Eulalia Palomo has been a freelance writer with Demand Studio since 2009, writing for GardenGuides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine, and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Palomo is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University Online.