Calamagrostis nutkaensis

Pacific Reed grass is a large and stately grass that is found close to the coast/ beach. A tall growing species with large flat green foliage and tall flowers that are at first green and then age to straw in summer. To 3′ tall on average, this plant can even perform as an epiphyte as is sometimes seen in forests adjacent to the beach. Spreads to form large clumps that are staunchly evergreen. Native from S. Alaska to N. California. This makes a wonderful casual plant with stiffly upright flower spikes. To  3′ wide  and clumping.  Average to amended soil, adaptable to clay soils. This is a great first line grass at the beach. It endures salt spray and poor soils. Easy to grow native grass for rough areas, meadows, forest verges. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. It may be cut back hard in the early spring,  but appearance is very stable throughout the year. Deer resistant. Very easy to grow. Light consistent water  inland, but drought adapted at the coast. Associated plants in the wild are Polypodium scopulorum, Picea sitchensis, Gaultheria shallon (Salal). One of our best native evergreen grasses for our gardens. Oregon native plant.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: , ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6a -5º to -10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


A sparkling little groundcover Hebe with emerald green leaves on trailing black stems and clouds of violet blue flowers in early summer. to 8″ tall spreading to 2′ wide. It covers the ground very densely. It may be used as a small scale ground cover but never more than 4′ x 4′ square feet. Rich to average soil with consistent light water though summer. Cold hardy below 10ºF. Very easy to grow and handsome plant. Hummingbird and Butterflies adore the flowers. Excellent rock garden subject. Very good performance at the coast.  Nice trough plant. Good looking year round. Avoid hot wet soils and compacted droughty places. Ideally sited on a slight slope. Stems will eventually root where they touch. Combine with Penstemon pinifolius ‘Mersea Yellow’. New Zealand.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7b 10º to 5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Broadleaved strawberry or mountain strawberry is a widespread native species with large white flowers in spring that turn to small delicious red fruits in June. A low spreading perennial that also spreads liberally by runners. This tendency ramps up in richer conditions. This tough native form was found by our employee Brandon at Mt. St. Helens. This clone shows impressive vigor and is useful in a  number of ways. A tough species that naturally thrives in clay soils (and clay strawberry pots). It competes admirably with grass and is best between native clumpers. Associated plants in the Willamette Valley are Dichelostemma congestum, Carex tumulicola , Lathyrus nevadensis, and Calochortus tolmiei. Mostly evergreen with many bright red leaves in winter but leaves remain present in all but the coldest situations. In the garden give it rich to average soil and regular irrigation to establish. This variety has enough summer drought adaptation that it will grow sufficiently with little summer water. Cold hardy, tough little plants. Bears one crop of fruit per year. Rescue them from snails and ants. Widespread throughout the region. On the west side it is found everywhere from oak savannas to alpine meadows. In the eastern part of the state it is primarily in the mountains in partly shaded zones where there is adequate moisture. Each plant spreads to about 6″ across and runners expand out more than a foot from that. Oregon native plant.

Xera Plants Introduction

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5a -15º to -20ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Phacelia heterophylla ssp. virgata

Varied leaf Phacelia. For anyone who has hiked and camped in Oregon you are likely already familiar with this silvery plant. The divided and rounded laves are clad in silver fur and the leaves are the highlight of this widespread perennial. The flower which shows great promise as it rises from the cool leaves. It opens and then unfurls and you expect a purple or even red flower but no disappointly- dingy off white is what unfurls. Either way its a pollinator paradise. Size is dependent on the fertility of the soil. Often you see this plant in its early rosette forms along just about any path in the state. Western Oregon to Eastern Oregon this widespread plant is specific to our native pollinators. To 18″-3′ (in really rich soil). Short lived Oregon native perennial. About 3-5 years. Reliably reseeds. Seedlings are easy to spot as they mimic the parent plant. Full sun to a considerable amount of woodland shade. Associated plants in habitat are Sword ferns (Polystichum minutum) and Vancouveria hexandra. Moderately deer resistant. Native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant. 

 

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: , ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn4b -20º to -25ºF
Foliage color: ,  |  Foliage season:


Hebe ‘Blue Mist’

This genus may soon be changed to Veronica. We still list it as Hebe because that is how it is distinctly known in the PNW. This is a good, reliable Hebe (yeah, those exist) with profuse flowers, a dense, layered habit and good looks year round. To 30″ tall and as wide and progressively wider in fat conditions. Plan for this. In May-July a long display of many spikes of flowers they protrude through the waxy forest green foliage. Profuse. The flower buds and initially open flowers are blue and proceed to light blue then white – the mist. This multicolored effect is delightful. Attractive to bees and bumbles and especially butterflies. Full sun to very light shade – successful under a very high tree canopy with bright conditions. Excellent specimen plant with reliable cold hardiness to 10ºF. Very well adapted to the beach. Regular irrigation and a layer of mulch annually. Combine with Bupleurum fruticosum and Lavandula x angustifolia ‘Purity’. We grew this many years ago and have brought it back. Welcome back. An old favorite.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7b 10º to 5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


South African Buddleia that we are not concerned about escape, We’ve had this plant on our propagation hill for 15+ years, and there is even a rich stock bed right beside NEVER had a single seedling. Kind of wish I would. Thin tapered gray leaves are pure white underneath and along the stems. This downy appearance reads as light gray from a distance. Forms a rounded shrub to about 6′ tall x 4′ wide in 4 years. Blooms on wood from the previous year (important)- restrict pruning to directly after you are sick of the flowers. Large clusters of off white faintly fragrant flowers appear in late spring and remain in bloom to August, sometimes longer. Moderately fast growing evergreen for excellently drained soils to rich soils in full sun. I would err on the side of poor soil, its a tough shrub with great drought tolerance. Two ideal companions to our stock plant are Bupleurum fruticosum and Grevillea australis. Not only does it look good this 1/2 gravel 1/2 clay substrate is kind of rough and all three thrive. You may cut back very hard to refresh/resize- May skip a year of bloom but its a fantastic evergreen gray foliage plant on those merits. High deer resistance. Drought adapted and cold hardy. We’ve never irrigated ours. Pretty shrub for texture. Nice transitional shrub with Ozothamnus or Grevilleas and even Manzanitas.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7b 10º to 5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


We asked the man who knows lavender the best which white Lavender did he recommend? And he fired this off the top of his head and then brought one for us- Thank you Andy Van Helvingen. A REALLY stunning plant. Compact with many CLEAR WHITE flowers in dense clusters at the end of strong straight stems. The plant is compact and grows that way – much slower. To 16″ x 18″ with bloom spikes above. Flowers early June to August. A charming plant that does not cling to discolored brown flowers instead they just kind of melt away so it does have an extra pristine appearance at all time. Shear spent blooms to their base to encourage a more dense and floriferous shrublet in the future. Wonderfully aromatic hybrid with english Lavender. Moderate deer resistance. This would combine in a perfect way with pink and blue flowered varieties- ‘Hidcote’. Avoid planting closely with L. x intermedia, cause those will flop and smother this little gem.  Great for small hedges, rock gardens, and herb knots. Pungent for drying, potpourri. Full sun and rich to average soil with reasonable drainage. Not good in shade.  Lavenders also require very good air circulation- plant accordingly. Average life span 5-7 years, Light summer water.

My Favorites

Plant type: , ,  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6a -5º to -10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Pine leaved Penstemons are great, long lived evergreen perennials in our climate. They decorate rock gardens and rock walls in the most common color which is orange. This is a striking departure. Lemon yellow tubular flowers appear in late May and continue to July. The foliage is what you might expect small needle like leaves cover winding stems. You may remove the spent flowers from the first round, give it a soak and you might get more flowers. Either way you have saved yourself a chore in the future. Full sun to the very lightest shade (at the expense of blooming). Rich, well amended soil and regular summer water through its bloom cycle- then you may back off. Evergreen small trailing shrublet. To 6″ x 12″ wide and 9″ tall in bloom. The flowers on this species will always point in the same direction which is charming. Moderate deer resistance. Combine with Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’ and Erigeron x ‘Wayne Roderick’ for similar cultural requirements and simultaneous bloom time. Excellent in troughs, permanent planters. This species is native to the mountains of New Mexico. Sunny yellow flowers.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn4b -20º to -25ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Yerba de Selva or whipple vine, a wonderful small scale evergreen native ground cover. Related to Hydrangeas but this trailer is actually very aromatic with a sweet penetrating aroma if you disturb the foliage. In late spring clouds of small white flowers have  the same perfume. Scrambling plant to about 8″ tall and 2′ wide. Full sun to considerable shade. From Portland south this is a common understory component of the herb field. It grew happily in our back 40 where I grew up. There it made pretty scrambling patches between Vancouveria, snow berry and hairy honeysuckle. Often you would see our native columbine ( Aquilegia formosa) as an associate. Its very drought adapted when established but it improves with a few soaks over summer- never perpetually wet and never hot and wet. Otherwise an easy native that should be grown a lot more. Just the fragrance of the foliage endears it to me. For use as a small scale ground cover plant on 10″ centers. It will also gracefully trail over rockeries and walls. Butterflies adore the flowers. Competes well with invasives. Some deer resistance. It may be cut back in early spring to refresh. Once native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: , ,
Biome: , , , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5b -10º to -15ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Eriogonum umbellatum

Our native Sulphur Buckwheat that is among the best for general garden culture in our climate. This ubiquitous creeping plant of alpine areas of Oregon celebrates spring with umbels of (sulphur) yellow flowers on long stalks. The low and spreading rosette of leaves are thick green on top with silver indumentum on the reverse. Full sun in fast draining conditions- ideally rock garden conditions because that is where you find it. Crevasses between rocks is where it lives. This is easily reenacted in your garden at the top of a porous rock wall. Blooms May-July for an extended time. The flowers go through a fascinating metamorphosis in color as they open, reach their peak of hot yellow and then turn to russet/red  seed heads. These abandon the spike through autumn and spent flower spikes may be removed in winter. Water until you see the rosettes actively increasing. Then taper to once in a while. This species has a total of 13 (!) subspecies in Oregon alone. We have yet to delve into specific subspecies but if we did I would look for Eriogonum umbellatum var. modocensis and Eriogonum umbellatum var. umbellatum. Both are endemic to Mary’s Peak the tallest point in the Coast Range (4097′). So, I know that those (with immaculate drainage) can easily cope with higher rainfall. Rock garden staple and can also self sow in happy places. Very fun, sunny, satisfying native to grow. Associated plants in habitat are Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolata and Achillea millefolium, Sedum oreganum, Castilleja minuta and Penstemon cardwelii. Excellently adapted to gravel, crevice, gardens with an arid aesthetic. Amend the soil as for Agaves and it will thrive. Pronounced  Air-e-OG-oh-num. Rosettes to 3″ tall, blooming stems to 1′ tall. Spreads, give it room. Oregon native plant.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5a -15º to -20ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season: