Sphaeralcea ‘Hot Pink’

Globe Mallow. Fun and easy to grow perennial that behaves like a sub-shrub. Semi woody wands of very silvery small maple shaped leaves wave to 3′ tall. Lining these silver stems are bowl shaped hot pink flowers. They begin as early as late May and continue unabated for months. As time goes on this perennial for dry, hot locations with good drainage becomes a showy hot pink mass of blooms. Excellent on hot slopes with light but consistent summer water. Very drought adapted but light water appears to improve the performance. Loved by bees, butterflies and other pollinators. By autumn this 3′ x 3′ shrub should be left intact to over winter. In spring when new growth is breaking from the base it may be cut back hard and recovery to bloom is rapid with the onset of warmer weather. Cold hardier if given very good drainage. As far as I can surmise it will take temperatures down to about 10ºF.  A selection or possible hybrid from two southwestern globe mallows.

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Sphaeralcea ‘Newleaze Coral’

An American western native wildflower that was selected for its unique flower color in the UK. Well, welcome home my pretty globe mallow.  A tall growing semi-woody perennial with soft gray/green foliage. From June to September and longer cupped vivid coral flowers line the 3′ stems. It blooms non-stop for up to two months. Very pretty. Full, hot sun and rich, to average WELL DRAINED soil. A natural for a slope or included in a border where you water just on occasion. Very drought adapted for full hot sun. Do not cut this big wavy perennial back in autumn- leave the top growth as added winter protection. Cut back by 2/3 when you see new growth pushing in spring. Good drainage is key for the combination of wet + arctic air. Dry its hardy way below 0ºF- moist- well, a lot warmer. Excellent long blooming tall plant for seasonal containers as well. Does not like shade. Don’t even try. To 2′ wide.

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This is the true Varnished leaf Spiraea that is  native in the Portland area. The large fluffy inflorescences – almost furry and true  tiny petals.   This too is a wonderful shrub that is tolerant of a host of situations. It is native in the Portland, city limits and knowing where it grows will lead to success with this easy going native. To about 3′ x 3′ and increasing laterally by stolons. This low deciduous shrub is primarily  a resident of high douglas fir overstory, but it can alsmost make appearance at the wetter end of oak savanna. The flowers appear from late spring to early summer. They are natural landing pads for butterflies even hummingbirds appear.  Best in an open north exposure with regular H20 then the following year less to none. Its naturally one of the most drought adapted of this genus. Give this plant room to spread, interweave its way around Holodiscus and Symphoricarpos, Gaulthria shallon. in rich soil ( to begin its life and establish)  Fall color can be yellow to peach and can also not really happen. Wonderful plant. Oregon native plant.

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Spiraea splendens (densiflora)

Subalpine Rose Spiraea is native to the higher elevations of the the Cascades. Above 4500′ in sunny, moist glens it makes carpets of deep rose pink umbels from low rounded shrubs. To 30″ tall by 4′ wide in garden conditions, Rich soil with regular irrigation. Moderately fast growing to this dimension. The emerging soft green leaves take on hints of blue as they mature. Bloom at low elevation is May-July but in its highest native haunts bloom can be delayed to late summer. Deciduous shrub with wonderful orange/ red fall color if brief. Easy to grow native garden plant with regular irrigation. Established plants can take deep watering every two weeks. Remember that this as with all Spiraeas have little tolerance for drought and they don’t necessarily wilt going straight to crispy (a look not as fixable as wilting). Mulch heavily for the first few seasons. Avoid blasting, reflected heat and and hot dry situations. Wonderful combined with Rhododendrons and Azaleas for similar cultural conditions. In its native haunt it can be found with Pacific Rhododendron, Helenium, Delphiniums and Veratrum. I’ve never seen it afflicted by disease. Watch for aphids, hose those off if they appear. Beautiful in bloom. Very cold hardy. Oregon native plant.

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Spiraea x pyramidata

This is our local form of the Pyramid Spiraea an attractive naturally occurring hybrid between two local species. Spiraea douglasii (dark pink flowered) and Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida (white flowered).  Its a larger plant and much more controlled than  its parent S. douglasii and it inherits some of the drought adaptation of Birch leaf Spiraea. To 5′ tall and 4′ wide this upright growing shrub produces pyramid shaped inflorescences of the softest pink- intermediate between the two species. This form was found just east of Portland. Full sun and occasional deep soaks in dry summers. Tolerates part shade at the expense of a tidy, upright habit. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering. Adaptable to wild areas. Deciduous shrub that turns to tones of yellow and flaming orange in mid autumn. This twiggy shrub would make a great hedgerow plant. Blooms late May to early July. Flowers turn to tan seed heads that persist on the plant. Cold hardy and not difficult to grow. Not bothered by pests or disease. Not fussy about soils adaptable from sand to clay. Oregon native plant.

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Stachys coccinea ‘Coral’

For flowers in this genus this is THE plant. Upright growing plant from a clump that rises to 2′ and produces multiple spikes of bright coral colored flowers. They are arranged in symmetrical whorls up the stem. Loved by hummingbirds who constantly seek nectar from the flowers that appear from late spring to late summer. When flower spikes are spent simply cut them away and water and more will arrive. Very easy to grow long blooming perennial for full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer water. Very drought adapted when established. Works well in borders and even seasonal containers. The leaves have a very familiar lemon lime aroma. Dies to a low clump of foliage in winter.

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Stachys lavandulifolia

Curious and pretty small perennial that has lovely leaves that have symmetrical black veins. As the plant expands it sends up spikes clad in frosty hairs around violet purple flowers. The don’t exactly go straight up but wind around a little bit. This gives the whole plant an overall haze that is truly fantastic. Appreciate sunny dry environs with sharp drainage but  as rich of soil as you can muster. Ideally it finds a home in a dry border or rock garden. Winter deciduous perennial to 18″ x 18″ in a season. Blooms repeatedly all summer. Light summer H20 and drought adapted when very established. Mixes well with Cranesbill (Erodium) and Scutellaria suffrutescens. Pretty little cut flower that acts as a boa in a small arrangements. Very good butterfly and pollinator perennial. Absorbs blasting hot locations. Flowers when spent turn to light brown wands of fuzz- this extends this plants season of interest.

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Symphoricarpos albus

Common snowberry is very widespread in our state and is found in a host of biomes This small, deciduous, suckering shrub begins spring with leaves of the freshest green, so fresh they flutter on the late spring early summer breeze. After several weeks of foliage the small white tinted pink flowers are shaped like small bowls and line the stem at every leaf axil. These morph into plush, plump pure white berries that are quite a bit larger than the relatively insignificant flowers. The berries (drupes) are perched in groups on the stems. Their pure white hue is easy to spot for humans and especially birds.They relish the berries while they are toxic for humans.  To 32″ tall forming a dome shaped suckering shrub twice as wide. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Mulch heavily.  The berries last well into winter before becoming animal snacks. The gray thin arching stems create a haze on the forest floor that becomes acid green as leaves appear. Spreads by stolons underground to expand its territory. Its adaptable to both upland quite dry situations as well as vernally wet spots in floodplains and fields. In the Willamette Valley its common associates are with Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)  Quercus garryana  ( Oregon White Oak) and Fraxinus latifolia ( Oregon Ash) as an understory component. Its tolerant of dense shade as long as its deciduous to full hot sun, Very well adapted to the driest summers. In summer the acid green leaves change to a dark blue green and are often afflicted by a strain of powdery mildew- my whole life I’ve known this shrub and I’ve never seen powdery mildew cause any permanent damage- mostly its just a poor aesthetic look for late summer to autumn. Fall color is soft yellow and brief. Branches may be carefully cut in berry and will hold them in arrangements for quite a few days. An excellent forage and cover plant for native fauna.  A great native shrub for beginners. This is the taller form of the two species that we grow. Native to the Portland city limits. Moderate deer resistance. One of our best shrubs for seasonally dry shade.  Oregon native plant.

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Symphoricarpos mollis

Creeping snowberry is widespread in western Oregon and indeed throughout the state. Its a low suckering deciduous shrub that can occupy large areas. To 30″ tall spread is indefinite in rich to average soil with regular water for the first year to establish. Mulch is extremely beneficial and will suppress weeds for the first few years which can arrive in the middle of a patch of this spreading plant. Leaves are fresh green in spring turning blue green with the heat of summer. Small pinkish flowers occur in late spring and morph over the summer into plush white squishy berries. They line the bare stems and are showy until birds make off with them or they remain and rot. The berries are toxic for humans. Fall color is light yellow to very little. Common on undisturbed slopes on the edges of the valley and in the eastern foothills of the Coast Range and western Cascades. Snow berry is often afflicted with powdery mildew in the driest parts of summer. No harm will come to the plant. A wonderful habitat plant. Oregon native plant.

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Symphyotrichum chilense

Pacific Aster is a Xera favorite late blooming native perennial. Masses of thick soft periwinkle flowers with a yellow center on an upright growing plant to 30″ tall forming an expanding clump. Blooms which are loved by native pollinators – they instantly appear, you don’t even have to be patient- are a soft color and open on the plant first on top and then down the sides eventually filling in. Its a cloud of periwinkle. Sometime afflicted with harmless powdery mildew. This is more of a problem near winter and afflicted material can be cut away and disposed then. Otherwise leave it standing and dead to thrill bush tits or some creatures like that. Rich soil with deep infrequent irrigation during summer. Once established it can perform reliably on rainfall alone (it will happily accept regular irrigation as well). Excellent mid-border late perennial that is fantastic with the green flowered late blooming Kniphofia pumila, and  Golden rod Solidago canadensis elongate. Long lived. It may be divided after several years. This plant is common around the Pacific Rim in temperate to colder regions. Its natural range is enormous- notice the specific epithet refers to its Chilean origin,, it is just as native and prolific on the Oregon coast. Often found at the edge of woods or scrublands in the transition to grassland/ dune lands. Its common associates in habitat are Fragaria chilense (another Pacific Rim resident)- we grow the variety ‘Aulon’, as well as Pacific reed grass ( Calamagrostis nutkaenasis). Long blooming. ( AKA Chilean Aster- but that is confusing as it is native in Oregon as well. Great performance at its native Oregon coast on sand to clay soils.  Oregon native plant.

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