We’ve grown a lot of Aloes with purported cold and wet hardiness and this is the one that has been the most successful. A large succulent shrubby plant with rosettes of deep green succulent foliage. In late summer to autumn a showy display of large yellow flower spikes can occur. Very pretty and loved by all nectar seeking folks. Give this South African perennial VERY GOOD DRAINAGE in full sun and a warm position. A slope is always helpful. Amend the soil with plenty of gravel and sand as well as compost- these guys do need to eat- so a little handful of organic fertilizer is recommended. Capable of freezing to the ground (below 15ºF) and resprouting from the base when truly warm weather arrives. Plant on a south or west facing slope preferably against a warm wall or boulder for added reflected heat. Easy, if large, container plant that you should protect from temperatures in the teens. To 3′ x 3′ on average in our climate. Mostly evergreen here. Combine with Agave, Cactus which will also increase their growth rate if you provide light, consistent water during hot weather.
Biome: Hot Aspects
Its surprising in our climate that heat is as big of an issue as it is. But there are scores of sunburned and toasted plants littering our city by the end of summer. We average just 2.o” of rain during June-August and you have to take into account reflected heat. That could be heat emanating from an asphalt street such as occurs in a hellstrip or the accumulated heat of a hot wall. Both can conspire to fry plants. Luckily, we grow a LOT of plants adapted to excess heat. These plants won’t fry on the first day above 95ºF. Some plants revel in reflected heat, they come from hotter climates and need warmth to both bloom and to ripen wood for winter. That means it receives enough heating calories to ensure winter hardiness. Currently, Portland averages 14 days above 90ºF per year. By the next decade that number will have more than doubled. Part of gardening with climate change is to anticipate those effects and adapt to them. Increasingly, we will be considered a hot summer climate. We should garden accordingly.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Threadleaf Bluestar is a fantastic native North American perennial with many seasons of interest. To 4′ tall this strongly clump-forming perennial has thread-like green leaves that line the sturdy, very vertical stems. Upon rising in late spring they host clusters of star shaped, fragrant (yep) blue flowers. Very pretty. The green, fine-textured foliage holds space as a blowsy presence in borders, gravel gardens, hellstrips. In autumn the entire plant turns shocking yellow and stays that way for weeks. Fall color at ground level and it rocks. Light but consistent summer water to aid in establishment. Very drought tolerant then. Full sun in any soil type but for permanently boggy. Good deer resistance. They will try it once but not again- for what it’s worth. Completely deciduous in winter. Emerges mid-spring. Very long lived, no-fuss perennial. Mix with ornamental grasses, cacti, just about anything.
Anchusa azurea ‘Dropmore’
Alkanet, Italian Bugloss- neither name is very appealing but I’m here to testify that if you are a connoisseur of the color blue this big showy perennial is for you. To 4′ tall multiple spikes bear rich, deep, true blue flowers in one bodacious cloud. This form is not only a superior blue, but its a more reliable perennial. Most live 2-3 years but this often persists for longer. This borage forms a basal rosette of rough leaves- this is important to identify the inevitable seedlings- they are dark, dark green and spiny. Blooms first year from seed. A Spectacular plant for a young garden, a dry garden, wild border or in its most classic home the cottage garden. Full sun and average to enriched soil that drains quickly. Light consistent water to establish then drought adapted. Long, long blooming plant that often has bumble bees fast asleep in the cup shaped flowers. Very cool. Obvious pollinator gem. Very climate adapted plant.
A customer of ours from the N. Oregon Coast (Gearhart) brought us divisions of the large, green-flowered Kangaroo Paw species. It had thrived in her garden there for 20 years and formed a huge patch. She had divisions aplenty. We’ve since found that it isn’t quite hardy inland but it’s still a durable, cool, long-blooming plant. Easy container plant that you can protect if the temperature threatens to drop below 20ºF. In summer they send up 4′ spikes with their green, curiously fuzzy paw-shaped flowers. They remain in bloom for weeks. Full sun and fertile well-drained soil with regular water. Easy to divide. Multiples quickly.
Cute little perennial Snapdragon species native to the mountains adjacent to the Mediterranean. Gray-green, almost succulent foliage is lush and is great with the profuse white snapdragon flowers which appear from late spring to mid summer. Full sun and rich to average, well-drained soil. Light summer water. Gets by with none but doesn’t look as good. Dies completely to the ground in winter and quickly resprouts from the base in spring. Rock gardens, gravel gardens, borders, hellstrips. Seeds around, and finds places that it likes. That could be the cracks in a wall or even pavement.
Spreading Dogbane is a pretty semi-shrubby native perennial that is found in every biome in our area. David Douglas mentioned this billowing perennial with clouds of light pink/white bells. Mostly he hated tripping over it in the Willamette Valley. This very permanent plant spreads to form big drifts in the wild. Streambanks, prairies, alpine meadows it can appear. The rounded downward pointing leaves emerge on semi-woody stems. In June-August clouds of flowers appear for weeks. Loved by pollinators and birds specifically attractive to native hummingbirds and butterflies. To 2′ tall and spreading by stolons to a wide area. Water to establish then none in subsequent years. Mulch after planting. Virtually any somewhat rich soil type including amended sand. Full sun to part shade. Wonderful plant and floral texture for meadows. I have great childhood memories of this plant in July in full bloom perched with our huge native black bumble bees. Very convenient bloom time- it begins to bloom just as most other natives are finished. Dogbane is toxic when consumed by humans or animals- hence the common name. When stems are broken a milky sap is exuded. Moderate deer resistance. Distantly related to milkweed. Once very common in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk. Great performance in hellstrips and verges that are lightly or completely non-irrigated. Give this plant room to spread and plan ahead. Limited availability. Oregon native plant
Pacific Madrone, iconic tree of the Pacific Northwest. Famous for its glossy, russet orange sinuous trunks, exfoliating bark, and round, evergreen foliage. In spring, clusters of white flowers are showy and turn into vivid red berries by autumn. These are loved by birds- especially western tanagers who will quickly strip a tree as flocks move from one to the next. Must be grown from seed and it must be transplanted when small. Just the way it is. Plant it in average, well drained soil. Water lightly through the first summer in subsequent years leave it strictly alone. Full sun is best- tends to wander towards the sun in shade. Underplant with low water natives such as Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, Vancouveria. Slow at first it picks up speed after about 4 years- then it can grow 2′-4′ a year. Somewhat messy tree- loses older leaves in summer and the bark exfoliates all over the place too. Know this and live with it. Ours are raised from seed of trees native to our wholesale nursery site- so its a local strain. Pacific madrone is native from the highest mountains of southern California to southern British Columbia. It is the northern-most broadleaved evergreen tree (native) in North America. Oregon native plant.
This is the standard small tree form of Strawberry Tree that is so important in PNW horticulture. A good looking evergreen tree that eventually forms a rounded dense crown. To 16′ tall and a third as wide in 10 years. Excellent small patio tree- as long as you account for the prodigious autumn fruit drop. Birds and squirrels consume the fruit which is alluded to in the specific name unedo- which means ‘I eat only one.’ I know people who eat them and claim to like them. So to each their own. No denying the electric neon yellow to bright red fruit is striking September to December. White urn shaped flowers appear simultaneously with the fruits in autumn. In time the bark develops to dark brown and shredding. Native to the Mediterranean with a disjunct population in southern Ireland. Drought tolerant when established.
Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’
Compact, everblooming form of Strawberry Tree with a huge attendant crop of vivid fruit in autumn. To 9′ tall and 8′ wide in 10 years in any well drained soil with light summer irrigation- completely drought adapted when established. Good looking, climate adapted evergreen native to the Mediterranean as well as Ireland. Nice specimen or small garden tree. Avoid the coldest, windiest sites. Handsome shredded mid-brown/red bark. Provide good air circulation. Quite a bit slower growing than the species. In time it develops into a rather dense upright shrub- just a tad smaller than the species. Locate away from paths, patios as fruit drop can be messy. A great, easy, dependable broad leaved evergreen for our climate. Related to our native Madrone. Native to Ireland down to Portugal and in to the mediterranean. Prune in early spring if needed.
Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. glandulosa ‘Demeter’
Our employee Adinah spotted this distinct form of our native glandular manzanita in extreme SW Oregon. This form boasts very silver foliage with sharply pointed leaves and the conspicuous glands that identify the species. In mid winter to early spring clusters of pink buds open to pendant urn shaped white flowers. Loved by over wintering Anna’s hummingbirds. A low and spreading Manzanita to 4′ tall by 6′ wide in 7 years. Not as rapid of growth as other varieties. Full sun and average, well drained soil. Do not amend the soil but rely on our own native soils perfect fertility. To further enhance success double dig a wide area around the plants new home. This incorporates oxygen into the soil in a wide area and also allows the percolation of water. Mulch after planting with a coarse bark. Very pretty, very gray dome shaped shrub which eventually reveals contrasting mahogany glossy peeling trunks. A very pretty species that is uncommon in Oregon but whose range extends south all the way to Baja Norte. Once established, do not water- neglect and perfect climate adaptation will do the rest. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
- « Previous Page
- Next Page »