This poor plant though spectacular has a bunch of silly marketing names attached to it. We stick with the original Japanese cultivar name- seems appropriate. No other evergreen vine/groundcover has a foliage display that matches this plant. New leaves emerge bright orange and then morph slowly to patches of light yellow surrounded by dark green. Delightful. We’ve never seen flowers on this cultivar and we don’t need to. Great small scale and vivid ground cover. Mounds and trails to 8″ tall and several feet wide in a single season. It has been surprisingly hardy to cold enduring temps below 10ºF with no harm. Best in part shade to shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. This vine grows when its warm therefore you water it when its warm. Twins around thin objects and will eventually hoist itself skyward. Solidly evergreen. Excellent container plant. Moderate deer resistance.
Biome: Low Water/No Water
Rainfall in the Pacific Northwest takes an annual break during our summers when days are longest and hottest and evaporation far exceeds anything that falls from the sky. It makes sense to seek out plants that are adapted to dry summer conditions. A large selection of these plants are from the Mediterranean or are natives of the West Coast. Most importantly, these plants save water and money without sacrificing good looks. And many drought adapted plants actually shun summer water. Its wise to group these plants together and designate a no water zone. You’ll be amazed at what a beautiful vibrant garden you can have without irrigation. Find the right plants and then trust their built in adaptation- its a simple and smart way to garden. And it saves resources- as well as the gardeners precious time. The following plants once established will weather a hotter than normal summer without undue stress. That is one or more years after installation. The better you treat a plant in the beginning the sooner it will develop drought adaptation. The better established the more drought tolerant.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Red Top’
We’ve grown this excellent small scale groundcover for 20 years and it never fails to find a useful place in gardens. ‘Red Top’ Asian Star Jasmine is named for its bright red new growth which settles down to green with white veins. Each leaf is very pretty but as the plant mounds up and becomes dense its downright elegant. Thick growing ground cover for full sun to full shade in rich, moisture retentive soil. Takes very dry conditions once it has rooted in a bit. Trailing stems will root as they touch the soil providing erosion control. In wind free places with support it will actually climb as a vine and become self adhering to any rough surface. Adult foliage has leaves that are nearly circular and will produce a long season of ivory propeller shaped non-fragrant flowers June – August. Moderate deer resistance. To 10″ tall and 3′ wide as a ground cover. Regular water significantly speeds growth. Good winter appearance. Easy to grow plant.
Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Variegatum’
Variegated Asian Star Jasmine. Excellent evergreen ground cover with playful foliage that looks great year round. Lovely entire leaves are spaced and outlined in cream. Great contrast to the sage green leaf interior. Trailing ground cover (occasionally it can rise up to be a vine- in windfree locations with support) but mainly its value is a year round showy and consistent look. Mounding and trailing it will root into the ground when it feels like it. To 10″ tall and 3′ wide as a ground cover. To 10′ tall as a vine. Full sun to dense shade in rich, well drained soil. But it adapts to harsher sites if given regular water. Excellent under trees, shrubs. Dense enough to discourage weeds. Very cold and drought tolerant. Seldom blooms. Moderate deer resistance. This and all Trachelsospermum asiaticum have two distinct forms of foliage. Juvenile and adult. Juvenile foliage is associated with long trailing and vining material. In wind free, still locations it can rise up as vine and thats when it becomes adult. This plant ONLY BLOOMS ON ADULT foliage. So, that is one reason you seldom see flowers on Asian star jasmine. Over time adult foliage will appear on ground covers. Its less vining and more bushy. Again, until adult foliage forms there will be no flowers.
Not a true Jasmine at all but Star Jasmine is a classic summer blooming evergreen vine in our region. One of the most popular vines and rightly so with its clouds of ivory colored propeller shaped sweetly fragrant flowers for all of summer. Twining vine, provide support- easily guided with the help of #4 gauge copper wire. It has the enviable trait of clothing itself to the ground in evergreen foliage- seldom has bare knees. Full sun to quite a bit of shade, including dry shade. To 12′ tall and 4′ wide in 6 years. Cold hardy to the single digits when established. Can be slightly tender when vines are young- hence the myth that it is not hardy. Regular water in summer speeds growth measurably and should be applied for the first few years. Blooms on wood from the current season. Prune before or after blooming. In warmer climates this vine is only a spring bloomer. In our milder summers with cooler overnight lows in summer it spurs Star Jasmine to bloom for all of our summer. Lucky us. Moderate deer resistance. Drought adapted with age. See below- trained as a free standing hedge in Laurelhurst. Kind of cool.
Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Madison’
Reputed to be a hardier form of Star Jasmine, we really haven’t witnessed that. It seems just as hardy as the commonly grown clone. But it has several important differences. The large deep green leaves are conspicuously convex and thick. In June to September it alights with tons of ivory colored sweetly fragrant pinwheel shaped flowers. These are slightly smaller but come in such fragrant abundance that it doesn’t seem to matter. Evergreen from the base to the top which is nice. No bare knees. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich, well drained soil. Summer water speeds both growth and early establishment. Then light regular summer water. Moderate deer resistance. Twining to 15′ provide support. Fences, pergolas.
Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Pink Showers’
Exciting color variant of star jasmine. Soft pink propeller shaped flowers yield the same sweet perfume. Blooms June-August and prefers part shade and protection from hot sun. The intensity of pink in the flowers is more pronounced in cooler conditions. Strongly twining evergreen vine with deep green, glossy, undulate (wavy) leaves which are handsome year round. To 10′ tall and 4′ wide in 5 years. Good cold hardiness. Provide strong support. Water heavily after planting and for the first summer. This will speed both establishment and growth and lengthen the bloom season. If it never bloomed (and the flowers are beautiful and fragrant) it would be a top notch evergreen vine on those merits. Excellent recent introduction. See video below (img 6053). Just below the main picture. A really great vine.
Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Variegatum’
Nice form of star jasmine with large sage green leaves edged in cream. New growth emerges a very pretty pink. From June to August a continuous supply of clusters of sweetly fragrant ivory flowers. To 12′ tall and twining. Provide sturdy support. A nice attribute of Star Jasmines is their habit of keeping their foliage densely to the ground- never any bare knees. Takes full sun to quite a bit of shade- and still blooms. Slightly more tender than the species it requires a protected location- against a wall is ideal. Regular summer water speeds growth and this intensifies the re-blooming. Evergreen. Moderate deer resistance.
A classic palm in the PNW. Windmill Palm or Trachys as they are also known are extremely popular. And they should be. Moderately fast growing palm to about 18′ tall in 10 years. The trunk is covered in fur and this acts almost like insulation to protect the interior meristem from cold. Very cold hardy to near short dips to 0ºF- many venerable and ancient Windmill Palms can be found in old neighborhoods having gone through the very worst winters of the last 50 or more years. The fronds usually have drooping filifers on the species but that can vary. Male and female and requires one of each for viable fruit set. Following huge aromatic cream colored flower structures pollinated berries drop and will often germinate in open ground. Full sun to full shade. Drought tolerant but regular irrigation in rich soil will speed growth. Excellent performance in tight spaces. Occasionally young palms become nitrogen starved and turn yellowish. To correct simply feed with all organic fertilizer and mulch and water well through summer.
Trachycarpus fortunei var. wagnerianus
Waggies! Our fave hardy palm at Xera. The fronds on this slower growing tree are stiff and tidy and have none of the drooping filaments on the branch tips that the species T. fortunei possesses. To 12′ tall in 7 years. A very clean and tidy looking palm with a distinct asian look. The fronds are even finely outlined in white hairs…more definition for this stately plant. Grows about 2′-3′ a year if well watered. You really can’t water Trachycarpus too much in the ground, it just makes them grow faster. Same wooly trunk as the species. Waggies are recommended for windy cold areas as they are not affected by those conditions. Fantastic cold hardiness not suffering damage until temps dip below about 5ºF. This is a great palm for colder gardens and tolerates quite a bit of shade. Always looks it’s clean best.
Tomcat clover is one of our showiest native clover species. A tough hardy annual that is found from about Salem to Newport south to California. Its a common component of waste places and dry rocky environs. In poor soil it is a somewhat meager plant with just a little fertility its a completely different animal. To 12″ tall but usually half that this sparse but showy clover beckons pollinators when its pink to red and white delicate looking flowers that erupt into bloom in May-July. Very easy to grow in containers with other native annuals. This shares the fecund trait of other clovers and it will already have shed seed by the time you see it in bloom. Excellent forage for native bees- and purported to supply a tangy taste to Tomcat Clover Honey. Water plants from containers to establish, self sown plants get by on natural rainfall alone. Leave the plant well past bloom to shed the following years crop. Give it open disturbed spaces to self sow. The leaves are very much like a clover but the leaflets are a lot thinner. Also found on dry stream banks and with native clumping grasses. Full all day sun. Oregon native plant.