The blue form of New Zealand Burr with finely divided pinnate evergreen foliage that forms a vigorous creeping ground cover. In summer 3″ stems support round white flowers that appear for several weeks. Easy to grow dense-growing plant to 3″ tall and covering up to 3 square feet in a year. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture to speed growth and keep the appearance fresh. Best in part shade to shade- seems to resent hot sun and permanently dry positions. Excellent for a fast cover that blocks weeds and roots as it grows- perfect erosion control for steep shady slopes. Plant on 1′ centers for a fast cover. Adaptable to dry conditions when established.
Plant Type: Ground cover
Ground covers are useful for many different places. The important things are scale, vigor, and fertility of the soil. We advocate for plants that actually cover the ground in the most efficient way possible. Prepare the soil, at least double dig it so that there is oxygen in the soil. Smaller ground covers all uniformly require NON- compacted soil. And most benefit from an annual top dress of compost. Pour it right over the top and then water it to settle between the leaves. Water them reqularly unless they are completely drought adapted. For ground covers between pavers its important that the soil never becomes compacted- if it does (see above with compost).
Be realistic and care for your ground cover
A good ground cover blocks out weeds and creates the effect of a pool of foliage. Don’t try to cover the whole planet- that is rarely successful. Instead be realistic about what each plant can do. Some ground covers excel at erosion control, they often root into the ground along the stem stabilizing soil as they grow. Others work efficiently at blocking the growth of other plants- that means in the correct conditions they will be the dominant plant. Remember that weed seeds are born on the wind. They don’t just miraculously sprout from below. Therefore, you must concentrate on eliminating invaders. If that means hand pulling then that is what it takes. Very few desirable ground covers can get by with absolutely no care. Consider these plants your team and you are the coach. Heh. Here is a list of plants that do this job well.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’
Such a good good plant. The purple-foliaged New Zealand Burr covers the ground in pinnate dark purple foliage. Low spreading evergreen ground cover for full sun to part shade in rich, well drained, moisture retentive soils. Avoid compacted dry soils- it will die out. Instead provide an annual mulch of compost- put it right over the leaves and let the foliage grow up through it. This will give you a dense spectacular ground cover of purple with blue tints. Excellent as an understory in containers as well. In summer sporadic 4″ stems support spiky maroon orbs- these are the flowers. Best as a small scale ground cover, 3’x 3′ is reasonable. It will flow around low shrubs such as Hebes and around paving stones. Regular water. New Zealand.
This is the locally native form of our wild yarrow. A rambunctious, easy to grow evergreen perennial for rough sites in well drained soil in full sun. Continuously from spring to autumn ‘umbels’ of pure white flowers rise 18″ above low spreading aromatic, finely divided ferny foliage. Most often it is green with variants that have gray foliage from time to time. Low water perennial that can even be used as a lawn substitute. A single plant spreads to several feet wide. Moderate deer resistance. Butterflies oh the butterflies.This is a pioneer perennial and will often out compete less robust native perennials. Its best use is as a contained weed. It is great for pollinators Individual plants rarely persist more than 3 years. Oregon native plant.
Achillea millefolium ‘Calistoga’
A fine form of our native Yarrow that has leaves that are a striking gray with pure, clean white flowers. A great combination. Spreads to form a low wide plant that is evergreen (gray). The flat clusters of flowers appear continuously from May to frost. More consistently if you remove spent flowers. The umbels, unusual for the daisy family, are loved by butterflies. Well, actually all pollinators. They are given a flat landing pad and tons of flowers- what more could you want. Excellent for low care areas where this romping perennial will happily out compete weeds and hold ground with very light amounts of water. Full sun and well drained soil. its best to double dig the soil to incorporate oxygen and de-compact the soil. Does not like compacted soil. Light but consistent summer water speeds growth and vigor. Otherwise very drought tolerant. Excellent on slopes. To 20″ tall in bloom on a low spreading foliage plant to 2′ wide or wider. High deer resistance. Great cut flower. Mix with other low water plants. Pretty with other colors of yarrow. Oregon native plant.
Himalayan Maidenhair fern is one of our favorite groundcovers for shade and rich, moist soil. The divided fronds in the shape of an arrow are always soft and fresh. In spring this deciduous variety emerges with tones of amber and soft pink before taking on a mature soft green hue. These delicate leaflets are held on thin, wiry black stems to 10″ tall and it spreads prodigiously to form vast colonies. It doesn’t smother neighboring plants however, instead it seems to just flow around such woodland neighbors as Epimedium, Hellebores, even woodland bulbs like Erythronium. Regular summer water. Avoid hard, compacted dry soils. High deer resistance.
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
Arctostaphylos hookeri ‘Wayside’
At the North Willamette Experimental Station in Wilsonville where OSU conducted a trial of scores of Arctostaphylos species and cultivars this special ground cover Manzanita has been consistently one of the best performers. Deep green pointed leaves are held perpendicular to the sun on cinnamon red stems. In time it forms glossy red bark that is very showy. Low and dense growing to 2′ tall and 6′ wide. Excellent bank cover or ground cover in any soil that is not amended or boggy. Profuse white flowers in spring. First rate weed suppressing plant for hellstrips, rock gardens, dry borders. Excellent appearance year round. No summer water. Take advantage of its low dense growth to cover and suppress weeds. Wonderful plant for baking hot locations. Very easy to grow.
Arctostaphylos nummularia ‘Select Form’
Stunning glossy perfectly round leaves line wiry stems on this dense, mounding, very happy low-growing Manzanita. New growth is tinted red and settles to bright green. To 2′ tall and 4′ wide creating a dense weed-suppressing dome of foliage. White flowers in spring. Very garden tolerant for full sun to very light shade. Moderately fast growing. Excellent candidate for hellstrips, hillsides, etc. Great performance at the Oregon Coast. Little to no summer water once established. Very very good looking plant. It thrives in perfect conditions- neglect and sun and is much more fussy in shade. Cold hardy to 5ºF. Nummularia= coin shaped, referring to the leaves Takes a little bit of shade- especially if there is a very high tree canopy. Adapted to coastal conditions including sandy soils. The glossy leaves and dense nature of this shrub make it hard to capture in photographs.
Arctostaphylos x ‘Pacific Mist’
Wonderful low spreading Manzanita that we have grown for more than 20 years. Silver/gray pointed leaves densely clothe the spreading stems of this adaptable shrub. In time the lax, decumbent stems point upward at the tips. In spring white flowers are a bonus. To 2′ tall and 6′ wide it may be employed as an informal ground cover. Full sun to light shade and well drained soil of average fertility. Little to no summer water when established. Nice looking plant year round. In time it develops glossy cinnamon colored trunks/stems. Excellent on slopes. Takes more shade than most cultivars. Excellent cold hardiness. Plant on 30″ centers for a large ground cover. Tips may be pruned in spring to encourage density, otherwise it covers the ground densely. A hybrid of obscure parentage that has been around for decades.
Arctostaphylos x ‘Rosy Dawn’
This is a little gal. She creeps slowly along the ground forming a dense dome. Round glossy leaves add to the the overall dome shape. In winter into spring a continual procession of soft pink flowers. They come in groups and are more intensely pink with cooler/cold temperatures. To about 1′ tall by 3′ wide not very quickly. Dense and smothers weeds effectively. Grows about 3″ per year, faster in more fertile soil. Great in year round containers where its restrained growth and ability to adhere to contours makes it perfect for life on the edge. Not quite as vigorous as kinnnick kinnick and actually a better specimen than ground cover. Great in rock gardens. Little summer water when established. Nice resistance to black spot. Appreciates a warm location. Moderately deer resistant. We have yet to see it produce berries. Or they were snagged by birds before we could notice. Demure little shrub. Looks glossy and fresh year round.
Arctostaphylos x media ‘Martha Ewan’
Our former employee Dan found Martha growing in the cemetery of the coastal town of Manzanita. It was bound to happen. This naturally occurring hybrid between Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana) and the ground cover Kinnick Kinnick (Arctostaphylos uva ursi). Fantastic low growing evergreen shrub that is a superior ground cover. Dense growth clad in deep green leaves covers the ground on a 2′ x 6′ framework. White flowers in spring are followed by large red berries which are then consumed by wild life. Full sun to very light shade in most well drained soils. No summer water when established. Fast growing with little care. Amazing on slopes where it efficiently blocks weeds and the best ground cover Manzanita that we grow.. Better, easier, and faster ground cover than Arctostaphylos uva ursi- Kinnick Kinnick- dense growth is more vigorous and requires less maintenance or even supplemental water. Handsome and immensely easy plant. Though not technically a shade plant this variety can handle quite a bit of shade- avoid low dark shade, high overhead shade is best. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Arctostaphylos x media ‘Xera Pacific’
Our discovery of a naturally occurring hybrid Manzanita on the Oregon Coast. Low and spreading to 2′ tall and 5′ wide in 5 years. Light green paddle shaped leaves. White urn shaped flowers in spring. Bark exfoliates to mahogany and shredding with time. First rate dense weed smothering groudcover. Black spot resisitant. Full sun to part shade in average, well drained soil. No summer water- though it tolerates it better than most. Great Oregon native shrub. Cold hardy. Russet/red berries follow the flowers and are consumed by wildlife. Very similar in habit and use as ‘Martha Ewan’, they are almost interchangeable. The foliage is more rounded and lighter green than the previous. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
As a dry shade evergreen ground cover foliage plant this wonderful perennial excels. Large heart shaped leaves are marked with silver over a sage green background. Pretty. Spreads to form dense colonies in rich, well drained soil in part shade to full shade. Must have regular water for the best appearance but can endure very dry conditions by wilting and will quickly recover with a drink. Takes the most dense shade and is invaluable in planters, beds, containers that are sited under an overhanging roof. Great winter appearance- it should be used in all sorts of year round containers more often. Spreads underground by stolons but doesn’t travel far. Bait for snails and slugs. Small curious brown flowers occur at ground level under the foliage in summer. To 6″ tall and spreading in ideal conditions to several feet wide.
Blechnum penna-marina (Austroblechnum penna-marina)
Antarctic Water Fern is a low creeping evergreen ground cover fern for moist shady sites. To just 5″ tall the new fronds emerge a bright red before settling to soft green. The pointed finely divided leaves overlap densely creating a cover that blocks weeds. Slowly expands up to 3′-4′ wide when really happy. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer water. Avoid compacted dry clay- does not like. Easy to grow in woodlands, Excellent performance under large shrubs. Avoid hot sun. Good small scale shady ground cover. High deer resistance. Chile.
Bolax (Azorella) gummifera
Incredibly useful and handsome and tough creeping evergreen ground cover. The fine interlaced leaves have a texture very much like plastic or tupperware. It creeps along forming tight rosettes that join. In summer the whole surface of this flush plant is covered in chartreuse yellow flowers. Not showy but conspicuous for a plant that looks uniform and green all year. One of the best ground covers between pavers as it can handle compacted soil better than other small scale ground covers. And this is a small scale ground cover, don’t try to cover acreage. Be reasonable and expect good coverage over a space no larger than 5′ x 5′. Glossy foliage sparkles when wet. Regular summer water speeds growth though it is tolerant of dry periods but not complete drought. Expect each 4″ plant to expand to the size of an apple pie in a season. Completely deer resistant. Top dress with compost every few years- especially if it is between pavers. To 1/4″ tall by 1′ wide. Full sun to the very lightest shade. Carrot family.
Carex tumulicola ‘Willamette Gold’
Wow, when nature smiles on you then you need to take advantage. We found this stable variant of our locally native foothill sedge that is pure gold. As for the species a clumper that forms trailing 12″ foliage. The tight clumps keep to themselves and do not seed or run. Brilliant color all season long in average to enriched soil in full sun to light shade. Water consistently through summer for the best, consistent color. Attending flowers are on wiry straight stems with buff flowers in late spring to early summer. Mass for a much more drought adapted and vivid effect as Hakenochloa- Japanese forest grass. Easy to grow climate adapted native sedge. This is from a seedling batch of Willamette Valley native seed. Tough and good looking all the time. Evergreen- ever gold. To 6″ tall and 1′ wide. Plant on 1′ centers for a massed effect. Excellent in concert with other drought adapted natives, Manzanita etc. A great robust plant. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Anchor Bay’
A very good looking mounded, evergreen shrub that is best appreciated in milder gardens. In colder gardens provide a warm protected site. The small holly-like leaves are mat green and good looking year round. This moderately fast growing shrub at first spreads out and then with time mounds up. To 30″ tall by 4′ wide in 6 years. Dense growth suppresses weeds. In Apri/May for 3 weeks button shaped flower cluster are pale sky blue and appear on wood from the previous year. Prune, if needed after bloom has ended. This is seldom necessary. Consistent summer water for the first season then none in subsequent years. Excellent adaptation to the Oregon coast. Cold hardy to 8º-10ºF briefly. Very good performance in hot sunny hell strips. Accepts part shade (at the expense of bloom) and poor soils. Somewhat formal in appearance it avoids the brush pile look with dense, closely layered leaves. Not as palatable to deer. Good appearance year round.
Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Emily Brown’
The glory of this large, wild evergreen shrub occurs in April when the branches are awash in deep violet blue flowers.The darkest hue among this species. A fast growing very large shrub to 4′ tall by 12′ wide in time. Excellent for wild uncultivated areas. A handsome spreading deep green evergreen of great drought tolerance. Tolerates most soils that never become boggy. Good cold hardiness to 5ºF. No summer water when established. Loved by bees and butterflies. Takes well to pruning. Blooms on wood from the previous year, prune if needed after blooming. Excellent pollinator shrub for steep hillsides, rough areas. Evergreen foliage is handsome year round. Tolerates part shade. Blooms best in full sun. Photo below by Evan Bean.
Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Pt. Reyes’
The most popular ground cover Ceanothus and an important plant in our climate. Evergreen ground cover shrub that covers the ground densely. In March the entire plant is smothered in light violet blue flowers. Stems root where they touch the ground making it a valuable erosion control. Full sun to light shade in any well drained soil. Excels on steep slopes. To 10″ tall and 3′ wide very quickly. Plant on 3′ centers for a fast dense ground cover. If the shrub grown as a ground cover gets too tall it may be sheared after bloom has ended. Water to establish for the first season, this also speeds growth. Excellent performance in Hellstrips. Little water once established. Moderate deer resistance.Avoid direct exposure to subfreezing east wind. Very well adapted to the Oregon coast.
Ceanothus x ‘Peg’s Pride’
Beautiful ground cover Ceanothus that bears dense sky blue flowers in a vivid carpet in April to May. To 2′ tall and mounding it stretches out to 8′ wide. The dense evergreen growth blocks weeds effectively. Very good on steep slopes. Loved by all pollinators and especially important to native bees. This is one of the cold hardier ground cover hybrids taking 5ºF with no issue. Excellent combined with Cistus and Halimiums. Fast growing to its ultimate size. Best in full sun but will tolerate light shade with sparser bloom. Regular water for the first season to establish then none in subsequent years. Supremely drought adapted. Very good at the Oregon coast and adaptable to sandy substrates.Mid green round leaves are semi gloss and handsome year round. Spectacular in bloom. Plant on 4′ centers for a large evergreen groundcover.
Ceanothus x ‘Xera Azul’
Very fortuitous, we planted 5 species/cvs of Ceanothus in our stock beds and they of course got a little frisky. We ended up with one stellar seedling that has impressed us so much that we showed it to Ceanothus Guru Dave Fross of Native Sons Nursery and he was impressed. In its 3rd year its produced copious blooms that are about the darkest blue that I’ve seen. Only the cultivar ‘Kurt Zadnick’ has deeper tones but this plant displays them differently. Large fluffily black/blue trusses of flowers on a lower and spreading plant. To 4′ tall by 6′ wide very fast. Glossy undulate leaves look nothing like their prospective parents. It has shown great cold hardiness as well as drought adaptation. Um…..we’ve never done anything to it. It hasn’t ever even had supplemental irrigation. So, extraordinarily climate adapted. Also, most Ceanothus seedlings require 3-4 years to commence bloom. This precocious little seedling bloomed its second year. All of this adds up to a great new cultivar. Full sun to very light shade and average soil. Water for the first season to establish then none in subsequent years. Blooms late March to late April and occasionally on new wood through summer. This would make a great bank cover with Cistus and Helianthemum, Eriogonums. So cool we named it Azul. The beginning of a GREAT Ceanothus.
Xera Plants Introduction
Cotula ‘Tiffendel Gold’
Low evergreen South African ground cover with 3″ high ferny medium green foliage that densely covers the ground. Beginning in May and repeating heavily through summer wiry stems to 6″ tall are topped by petal free gold rayless disks. Little bobbles. These flowers age to a darker color giving a sea of these curious blossoms extra color depth. Cute little cutlfower that lasts. Vigorous grower that covers ground quickly in rich, well drained soil with consistent summer moisture. Avoid compacted dry soils- it will die out. Excellent weed supresssing ground cover. Good looking year round. Cold hardy to 0ºF. One 4″ pot can cover 2′ x 2′ in a season and beyond. Moderate deer resistance. Not really a whole lot here they can even get to.
Erigeron glaucus ‘Bright Lights’
Beach fleabane or beach daisy normally runs in a mauve, to periwinkle vein. This lovely selection turns it up with crystal white daisies and a bold yellow center. Long lived perennial that is very adaptable. To 6″ tall a happy clump will spread to 2′ wide or more. Low and spreading it displays the flowers upright in a mass. This beckons pollinates and they always find this easy going daisy. Full sun, rich to average soil with regular irrigation through the bloom period. This not only keeps the plant verdant it encourage re-bloom which can occur until September. The initial huge show of flowers begins in late May into July. Excellent perennial for the top of a wall where it will happily creep over the edge and follow the contours on the way down. It may be cut back hard after the initial large flush of flowers, this tidies the plant and sets the stage for another big show. Not bothered by deer and often left alone by rabbits. This daisy is most conspicuous in habitat on the cliffs adjacent to the beach. It also perches on sea stacks. Beach fleabane ranges from the Northern Oregon coast south all along the California coast. Mix with other Erigeron glaucus cultivars for depth of contrast- this is when all the flower colors look the most distinct. Very easy to grow and it also absorbs the heat of parking strips with no issues. Cold hardy. Oregon native plant
Fatshedera x lizei ‘Variegata’
Bold sprawling shrub or vine that is a hybrid between Hedera and Fatsia. This form has large leaves outlined in cream. Evergreen that seeks shade but is surprisingly sun tolerant too. It may be grown as a free standing shrub, bold ground cover, or trained as a vine. Very nice in winter containers too. Well drained soil average to rich fertility. Light water. White flowers in autumn never set viable fruit. To 4′ tall and sprawling 8′ wide. Moderate deer resistance.
Fragaria chiloense ‘Aulon’
Pacific coastal strawberry is a beach native- in fact it occurs all around the Pacific Rim and makes an adorable and durable ground cover on sand dunes. Well this version is like the giant hulk of strawberries. Huge in every way and vigorous? Wow, plant and get out of the way. The large glossy evergreen leaves are up to 6″ across and the single white flowers in spring and summer (sometimes in winter) are large also. The paltry fruit that follows is far from edible. It won’t kill you but you really have to like sour and gritty with millions of seeds. This is an ideal ground cover for rough sites in full sun to part shade. Don’t bother enriching the soil that will just make this trailing monster roar. Instead err on the side of a little neglect and watch what this native plant can do. Be wary of delicate plants in the vicinity. Evergreen, easy and drought tolerant. Oregon native plant.
Salal. An iconic native shrub that occupies the understory of the forests from the coast to the Cascades- in the Willamette Valley its restricted to the shadiest, mesic environs. A mounding evergreen that forms large colonies in time. Ranges in height from 2′ to 6′ depending upon its situation. Spread is indefinite when happy. In spring chains of white urn shaped flowers transform into edible berries. Very handsome foliage is used as long lasting cut material and is sometimes marketed as ‘lemon leaf’. Can be tricky to establish. Shade to part shade is best in rich, humus rich soil with regular water. To establish water, water, water. And apply a liberal deep mulch. Avoid hot sun and compacted dry soils. Once it gets going, its yours forever. Occurs naturally in mesic/shady environs around Portland. Mulch annually to accumulate a layer of organic material that this spreading shrub craves. Oregon native plant.
Globularia cordifolia var. nana
Low growing globe daisy that makes a great small scale evergreen ground cover. In mid-spring rising up from the small paddle shaped leaves spikes are topped with spheres of fluffy steel blue flowers. Spreads moderately fast on well drained sites with light summer water. Full sun to part shade. To 4″ tall- foliage prostrate and spreading to 18″ wide in several seasons. Great in rock gardens. Cold hardy, drought adapted and easy small scale plant. Very dense growth pattern inhibits weeds on a small scale and the glossy deep green foliage is presentable year round. Not a widespread ground cover. Excellent between pavers and rocks. It handles compacted soils with aplomb. Light summer water but completely drought resistant when established. Charming plant.
Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’
Juniper leaved Grevillea that is a low spreading ground cover. Grass green needle like foliage plays host and is often obscured by masses of curly apricot yellow flowers. They peak in late spring but occur almost any time of year. Poor, well drained soil in full sun with no supplemental water ever. To 2′ tall by 6′ wide in 5 years. Supremely adapted to the heat and drought of parking strips. Prickly foliage deters animals- and even people. Incredibly floriferous shrub that gains cold hardiness with establishment. Loved by hummingbirds. Protect from subfreezing wind. No fertilizer. Dense enough growth to smother weeds Best with total neglect. Loved by hummingbirds. Little water when established. Amazing in bloom.
Grevilleas are interesting in that almost all species will cross and you can end up with some really weird shit. In this instance I selected this mounding evergreen shrub for the vividness of its orange flowers and superior cold hardiness from about 50 others. This cross between G. victorae and G. juniperina has thicker leaves than most cultivars (and seedlings) and that translates directly to improved cold hardiness and they end in a sharp tip. This variety has weathered 10ºF so far and could be hardier. Larger, vivid orange flowers with a style stained melon red that quickly matches the orange of the perianth. (Pouch like petals that reflex when open). To 3′ tall x 8′ wide in 5 years. Full sun to very light shade in average to poor soil. Water weekly after planting and then as growth increases limit it to once a month- a deep soak. Blooms almost continually with a crescendo in late winter/early spring. Loved by hummingbirds, European honeybees, and native hover flies. Easy to grow. Mulch after planting. Its important that Grevilleas become well established by their first winter- this immediately increases cold hardiness. Once established its fairly care free except for occasional pruning. Established shrubs can go through summer without any supplemental water. Fun to grow shrub. Excellent at the Oregon coast, tolerates sandy substrates with additional water. Not bothered by deer. Elk? I have no idea- they will at least step on it so protect. Grevilleas all require good air circulation. Avoid plants that flop or lay on them- not only will it block the sun it can even encourage rot. Site your Grevilleas where they are open and the wind can blow them dry.
Xera Plants Introduction
We selected this seedling long ago for its vigor, it was culled from a batch of 50 as one of the best and it is. ‘Foxy Red’ is a mounding, low growing shrub that spreads. To 3′ tall x 8′ wide it produces a nearly year round parade of tomato red flowers. The elongated superior foliage is olive green on the upper surface and gray below and comes to sharp point. Fast growing in full sun to light shade. Average unimproved soils are ideal, dig a large hole and soften the soil on the outer edges. Water faithfully, once a week until good new growth commences then water less- once every two weeks/month depending on aridity. Nice looking winter blooming shrub that is ideal planted above rock walls where it can cascade down. Loved by hummingbirds, especially wintering Anna’s who see an out of season nectar source as gold. Mulch after planting- coarse bark, chips, gravel…. Established plants take summer drought without supplemental irrigation. Should be deer resistant. At some point we’ll test it for their consumption. Really nice looking shrub both in foliage and bright flower. May be pruned at any time of the year. Avoid strong subfreezing east wind. Protected site- south or west facing.
Xera Plants Introduction
Grevillea x gaudichaudii
Impressive ground cover Grevillea that can be difficult to locate. To less than one foot tall it spreads out laterally easily 8′ wide in 7 years. The distinctly oak shaped leaves on this shrub emerge deep red before settling to green. All the while it is producing red upward facing “toothbrush” shaped flowers. These appear from February to August primarily but can pop off occasionally year round. All together it forms an amazing ground cover shrub that features fantastic foliage and flowers in a bold tapestry display. Cold hardy to a bit less than 10ºF- it appreciates successively colder frosts to harden off for its ultimate frost resistance. Full sun to part shade in average, well drained soil. Light summer water increases the growth rate- and it can zoom once established. Avoid crowding from other plants- it seems to require good air circulation. Excellent performance on gravel mulch. Large rock garden plant or hot slope cover. Protect young plants from temperatures below 15ºF- it can burn the foliage. Hardiness increases with establishment. The very short trunk emerging from the ground can be surprisingly stout- several inches in diameter. Cover with frost cloth- held down for wind protection during extreme arctic events. Drought adapted when established. A protected location. One of the coolest shrubs we can grow. A naturally occurring hybrid from the Blue Mountains. Excellent around and over boulders which add radiant heat during extreme cold. Should only be attempted in the mildest gardens.
Cold hardy and very showy Hebe that is an excellent small scale ground cover. To just inches high it expands over time to up to 4′ wide. The gray evergreen foliage is handsome year round. In early summer the tips of the plant are ensconced in violet- blue colored flowers. This showy display draws pollinators and butterflies. One of the showiest of the very cold hardy varieties. Takes temperatures below 10ºF with no damage. Excellent on slopes. Expanding branches can root where they touch the ground, making this spreader excellent for erosion control. It also grows with such density to block weeds. Very easy to grow. Mix with perennials and in-between shrubs in full sun to very light shade. Light CONSISTENT summer irrigation. The small gray leaves line the black stems for more exquisite detail. Excellent at the top of a wall where it will trail and follow the contours exactly. Moderate deer resistance.
One the best Hebes that we have grown that offers cold hardiness, showy flowers, and a useful low spreading habit. This ground cover Hebe with gray foliage and held on black stems spreads nearly prostrate to form a low dense shrub. In early summer the whole plant is smothered in deep violet purple flowers- among the showiest flowers of any cold hardy Hebe. Stems arch up and then immediately down cruising along at a moderate clip. To 6″ tall and 3′ wide in full sun and well drained soil. Light summer water when established. Excellent plant for slopes (the stems root where they touch the ground) as well as rock gardens. Placed near a wall or container edge and it will gracefully spill over the edge following closely the contour of any object. Plant density inhibits weeds effectively and it can make a useful ground cover placed on 2′ centers. Very tough little evergreen shrub and always good looking.
Decumbens= decumbent which basically means crawling on the ground. Good looking decumbent Hebe with dark army green glossy round leaves outlined in red. They are attached to black stems- wonderful contrast and depth to this easy ground cover for full sun to part shade. Just 8″ high an individual plant can cover an areas 4′ x 4′ in several years. Rich, well drained soil with light consistent summer irrigation. Avoid boggy soils as well as dust dry and compacted. Loose and friable and this Hebe will surpass your expectations. Clusters of white tinted blue flowers appear in summer. Not a total all out floral display but more random which is kind of nice. Cold hardy, disease resistant and long lived for a Hebe. Great dense evergreen ground cover.
Hebe pinguifolia ‘Sutherlandii’
Indispensible alpine cold hardy Hebe with an astonishingly uniform dense habit. Rounded to 30″ tall and up to 4′ wide in time. Blue gray foliage is handsome at all times. In summer sporadic white flower spikes dot the plant. Full sun to light shade in average to rich well drained soil Light, but consistent summer irrigation. Especially important for it to be well hydrated before extreme heat (above 100ºF). Excellent hedge, massed as a tall ground cover. Very cold hardy- not bothered by our coldest winters and of alpine derivation in its home in New Zealand. Formerly known as Hebe sutherlandii. Excellent as low informal hedge or even massed as a symmetrical ground cover.This form has been consistently hardy down to 0ºF. Excellent performance in cold rural gardens. Tolerates some subfreezing wind. Xera favorite shrub.
Hebe youngii ‘Carl Teschner’
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 4′ 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.
For several reasons this is a fantastic Helianthemum (Sunrose). Felted green/gray foliage is handsome as a backdrop to the masses of fully double pink flowers that appear for weeks. The single forms of Sunrose have flowers that last just one day but this double flowered form has flowers that individually last for days. It significantly lengthens the bloom time on this charming low plant. Blooms appear from mid May to July. To 10″ tall and spreading to an area 2′ x 2′ in several years. Full sun and well drained soil of rich fertility. Beautiful small scale groundcover for banks, drier borders, rock gardens. Its best to cut Helianthemums back hard when blooming has ended. Remove the blooming stems and part of the current seasons growth. In return you achieve a dense compact plant that will yield more flowers the following year. For pink-o-philes this is a must have plant and one of our favorites at Xera. Light summer water. Some deer resistance. Not available in 2023
Sunroses are great flowery perennials for hillsides and the front of borders. Low growing gray evergreen foliage is a great foil to the 1″ pale pastel apricot flowers that obscure the whole plant for weeks in mid-late spring. To 8″ tall x 2′ wide. But back hard after flowering to encourage a denser more compact plant. Light, regular summer water is important- avoid total dust dry conditions. Mix with Pacific Coast iris and Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’ for a swoon worthy effect. Some deer resistance but not impervious. Each single flower lasts one day but masses of flowers appear opening in full sun, for weeks.
Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’
Fantastic low growing gray leaved evergreen Sunrose for sunny slopes. Gray foliage is a great backdrop to the masses of brilliant deep orange flowers that obscure the foliage for weeks in April/May. To 6″ tall and several feet wide in just a few years. Light, consistent summer water in rich, well drained soil in full sun. Cut back hard after flowering to ensure a more compact, tidy plant. Blooms simultaneously as Spanish lavender (Lavandula steochas) for a wonderful purple and orange blast of color. Low spreading trailing habit is ideal on slopes or at the top of a wall. Match with other low spreading plants for a tapestry of color.
This little gray leaved evergreen shrublet becomes a fire of true red flowers for 4-6 weeks in mid to late spring. To 10″ tall and spreading to several feed wide in rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer water. Better in soil that has been enriched with a bit of compost and light organic fertilizer. Each flower lasts just one day but they come in such profusion that the display is continuous for weeks. Excellent slope cover- rooting where stems touch the ground- ideal erosion control. Cut back hard after flowering has ended. Cut approximately 1/3 of the plant away and new fresh foliage will emerge creating a solid mound of foliage. Very brilliant Sunrose that we love.
Helianthemum ‘The Bride’
The combination of silver evergreen foliage and the clear white pristine flowers of this perennial is exceptional. To 6″ and spreading May to June the foliage is obscurred by a daily supply of flowers. Very showy. Full sun and light but consistent summer water. Cut back hard when blooming has ended. This yields a more compact tidier plant. Good deer resistance. Banks, hillsides, parking medians. To 3′ wide.
Juniperus ‘Daub’s Frosted’
If you are going to grow a juniper then it better be good. This useful selection has new growth tipped yellow before turning to blue/green. The outside of the plant is always bright and the interior softer and darker- a happy combination. Low and spreading to 18″ high by 4′ across. Excellent drought tolerant easy to grow evergreen for tough sites. Banks, hellstrips, places where you would rather not have the pets potty. Full sun to very light shade. Regular summer water to establish and then none is necessary. Grows faster in better soil- slower where its impoverished. Either way it will grow and thats what you want.
Juniperus communis ‘Hoodview’
Low growing incredibly blue common juniper that we found on the slopes of Mt. Hood on the eastern side of Multnomah county. To just 10″ tall but usually much lower it creeps slowly and densely to 3′ wide in 5 years. Rich, well drained soil in full sun though it makes due with less than ideal conditions. Handsome blue cast to the foliage is nice looking all the time. Growth is dense and blocks out weeds. Nice to have a locally native Juniper from a relatively low elevation. Long lived and care free. Water or once established do not. Oregon native plant.
Juniperus conferta ‘All Gold’
Nice, nice creeping juniper for lighting up hillsides or hellstrips. The needles on this low spreading plant are actually closer to chartreuse/lime green than gold. But its a vivid color and the 1′ tall x 5′ wide plant shines. Full sun and well drained soil. Light to little summer water when established. Excellent ground cover for a steep dry bank. Endures extreme cold as well as heat. Tiny flowers turn into blue fruits that contrast nicely with the foliage. Very easy to grow and good looking year round. Moderate deer resistance. Great performance at the Oregon Coast. Tolerates dense clay on slopes. Striking winter and spring appearance that glows from a distance. Well behaved plant. Combine with blue and gray leaved foliage for extra contrast. Hebe pinguifolia ‘Sutherlandii’ or Arctostaphylos pajaroensis ‘Warren Roberts’. You really can’t go wrong with blue/gray and chartreuse foliage. It provides just enough contrast that you can see the texture of each plant but is not an overall jarring contrast. Excellent garden juniper that we’ve all grown to love.
Juniperus horizontalis ‘Pancake’
So many junipers and so few that are really interesting. This guy caught our attention for its relatively soft growth (to the touch) that is incredibly dense and flat to the ground (prostrate). In summer the foliage is a soft blue green and in winter it changes to soft lavender buff. Very pretty. Excellent solution for tough dry sites where you need to cover the ground completely. To just inches tall a single plant will spread 3′-4′ wide. Light to little summer water in full sun to very light shade. Easy to grow, useful plant. Nice looking year round. Growth flows around any obstruction- around, up and over. Excellent flowing over rock walls. Moderate deer resistance. This has been used as a groundcover/ lawn substitute and it really does work. As with all ground covers the object is not to cover the whole planet but to cover perfectly the space you need (be realistic) and this plant quickly does that. Pretty at the front of borders and combined with winter blooming Cyclamen coum. In time the stems will layer and aid in erosion control- it takes a few years for this process to kick in. Plant on 2′ centers for a fast and total cover. Water to establish and speed growth and then back off.
Lamium maculatum ‘Aureum’
This golden form of dead nettle is surprisingly vigorous and makes a glowing small scale ground cover. Mostly evergreen- unless it drops below 15ºF. From early spring to fall a continuous supply of spikes of light purple flowers. Each leaf is decked with a silver chevron. Part shade to full sun with regular summer water. To 6″ tall and 2′ wide when happy. Add a yearly layer of compost to increase vigor. A wonderful plant for lighting up the garden. Moderate deer resistance.
Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’
Its important that a ground cover be successful. They are meant after all to cover the ground, block weeds, discourage erosion, provide a uniform look. After trying many ground covers and the famed “squashables” as we call them (plants don’t like to be stepped on- that why we play football on grass and not Corsican Mint). This is a vigorous evergreen (black) dense growing plant that literally crowds out the competition rather than obscuring it. Tiny, ferny foliage takes on dramatic black tones when mature or the lightest bit stressed. It prefers non-compacted loose friable soil to roam with regular summer water. Full sun creates the darkest foliage and creates the densest plant. If planting in between pavers know that repeat stepping on the stones will compact the soil around them- not many plants especially ground covers like this. To combat this spread a layer of compost right over the plant in early spring. it will quickly grow through it and love the nutrients and oxygen in the soil that it provides. Little inconspicuous button flowers are easy to miss. To 1j/2″ tall and several feet wide.
Leptospermum rupestre (Low Form)
Creeping form of Alpine tea tree from the highest mountains of Tasmania. Low evergreen shrub with deep green tiny leaves set densely on the stems. Forms a complete ground cover in time with the ability to inhibit weeds. The new stems are an attractive cinnamon red before switching to gray. In early summer tiny pink buds open to starry white flowers. For several weeks they obscure the foliage. To 1′ tall but usually much lower and spreading to 3′ x 3′ in several years. Full sun and rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer irrigation. Drought adapted when established. Best on warm south or west facing aspects. Avoid exposure to intense subfreezing east wind- in those areas plant it in a protected location. Always handsome ground cover shrub. Amazing at the edge of containers or near boulders as this plant will faithfully follow every contour. Cool.
Hairy Honeysuckle or wild pink honeysuckle is a common vine in the western part of our state. Ranging rom S. British Columbia to California. This sprawling and twining plant is most associated with the cover under white oak woodlands. This vine can crawl to impressive heights into trees. As a child near Eugene this grew extensively on our property. It would climb pole sized trees and I would strip the winding canes off the trees and use them as a trellis for annual vines. The strong wood lasted 10 years or more. It derives its name from the conspicuous hairs on the leaves. At terminal ends of the branches soft pink curly flowers appear in cymes from June to September. These are followed by brilliant red berries that are food for birds. It has no fragrance. Excellent plant for stabilizing banks and hillsides where its incredible tenacity and drought tolerance is an advantage. Never a tidy plant this vine can be sent up a trellis or large tree. Water to establish then set it free. This honeysuckle can be afflicted with aphids early in the season but I’ve never seen it actually inhibit the plant. Just make sure not to look to closely at the plant in May-June. Evergreen to semi-evergreen with round leaves that surrounding the stem nearest the ends just before the flowers appear. Best in wild areas.- for some it can lack the sophistication of our other native honeysuckle Lonicera ciliosa. and is not as immediately beautiful. In habitat it consorts with Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversifolia) and Creeping snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus). Often found clambering up steep rocky slopes in dry woods. Oregon native plant.
Monardella villosa ‘Russian River’
Incredibly long blooming native sub-shrub with clouds of fragrant purple flowers for all of summer into autumn. To 2′ x 2′ forming a semi-woody base. The aromatic round leaves cup the flower buds as the stems elongate. Loved by all native pollinators. A wonderful plant in the mint family that is very easy to grow and long lived for this genus. This selection sports slightly darker purple and longer blooming flowers. Found from Douglas County, Oregon south throughout California. Freezes back in very cold winters but sprouts quickly with warm weather in spring and commences bloom quickly. Great as a mass planting and ideal in a meadow. Also, adaptable to rock gardens and indeed thats where you find it in the wild- among gravel, rocks, and boulders. Mix with other long blooming native perennials such as Erigeron glaucus (sp & cvs) and among California fescue (Festuca californica). A very climate adapted plant. Cut back spent flowers and more will follow. Nice cut flower. Very long blooming. Light summer water to very little when established. Some deer resistance. AKA Showy coyote mint. Oregon native plant.
A wonderful, incredibly long blooming perennial with clouds of true blue flowers waving above substantial spreading foliage. Easy to grow, long lived and very hardy plant to just 8″ tall in bloom but spreading to several feet wide. Rich, moisture retentive, well drained soil is where this plant for woodland margins thrives. Regular summer water. Avoid drought and compacted soil but this is a forgiving perennial. Blooms March-June. Plant bulbs among the foliage for a great spring floral display. Winter deciduous. Protect new growth from slugs.
Omphalodes verna ‘Alba’
Easy to grow, long lived spreading perennial that blooms for an incredibly long three months in spring. Fresh white forget-me-not flowers appear in clouds on wiry stems. The solid corrugated green foliage is an ideal foil. Creeping to several feet across in rich to average well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Thrives in part shade and finds a perfect home under large shrubs, at the base of trees. Fresh and white. To 8″ tall.
Oxalis magellanica ‘Nelson’
Adorable, tiny scaled dense growing ground cover from Chile. The most amazing component is the little pure white fully double flowers that appear all summer. They kind of hide in the foliage and its fun to search for them and pull them up above the leaves. Perfect little rosebuds. Slow spreading ground cover for part shade to full shade and rich, moisture retentive soil. Its not durable enough for life between pavers or hellstrips rather you plant it in a woodland under a shrub and notice how dainty and beautiful it is. Spreads out to about 1′ wide in 2 years. Deciduous in most winters- but it returns from the ground quickly in early spring. Protect from hot sun- it does not like. Lovely.
Oxalis oregana ‘Klamath Ruby’
Far and away our most vigorous clone of our native Oregon Sorrel. So named for the bright red underside of the leaves. In spring and sporadically into summer pure white flowers peek over the foliage. This is a fast colonizing plant that goes by underground stolons and it can cover several feet in a year. In time it will cover anything in part shade to shade in rich, hummus laden, moisture retentive soil. Piles up to about 6″ deep in no time. This form is decidedly evergreen. Use for wild areas to obstruct smaller weed growth- under decks, shady glens, other areas too dark for plants to grow. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘Select Pink’
Not the most original cultivar name but its aptly descriptive. Vigorous evergreen ground cover with dramatic hot pink flowers for weeks in spring. Spreads by underground stolons in rich, fertile, woodland conditions with regular summer water. To 4″ high and spreading many feet across shortly (in ideal conditions) . Part shade to shade. Very easy native perennial to grow. This is the second most vigorous Oxalis o. clone that we have behind ‘Klamath Ruby’. Simple pink flowers are pretty and rise up just above the foliage. AKA Redwood Sorrel or Oregon Sorrel. Long lived. Edible. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘White Flower Form’
There are quite a few selection off Redwood Sorrel or Oregon sorrel. This is the most common light green leaved form that you see carpeting shady dells and tree rootwells in the deepest shade. To 8″ tall and spreading vigorously by underground stolons. Clear white flowers in mid to late spring. Edible. Very simple plant to grow in part shade to shade. It will even thrive on an open north exposure. The soft foliage is semi-evergreen and has a great rebirth in spring. Not bothered by pests or deer. Spreads to several feet wide in rich soil high in humus. Do not plant with smaller delicate neighbors this plant will easily swamp them. Avoid full sun and compacted soils. Established plants can get by the summer with minimal to no irrigation. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘Wintergreen’
A GREAT PLANT PICK. This staunchly evergreen form of our native sorrel has deep green leaves marked with a silver chevron on each leaflet and large pink flowers in spring. Creeps to form an inpenetrable ground cover. To just 4″ tall but spreading to several feet wide within several years. Spreads underground by traveling stolons. A great native small scale ground cover for part shade to even dense shade. Regular summer water is beneficial but not necessary once the plant is up and going. Very easy to grow climate adapted evergreen perennial ground cover. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘Xera’s Blush’
I found this form of our native Redwood Sorrel in a drier and hotter part of the Siskiyous than what is normally the range for this woodland plant. Large soft green leaves have a silver chevron in the center of each leaflet. In spring very large pale pink/lavender flowers appear with a central yellow eye. Very showy. ideal candidate for dry shade- give it mulch and plenty of water to established then this form seems much more drought and heat adapted than the familiar forms on the market. Forms a semi-evergreen ground cover in shade. Edible. Part shade, shade, regular summer water. Spreads underground by stolons. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Parahebe cattaractae ‘Delight’
Cute little subshrub that is for the most part evergreen in our climate. Slightly toothed glossy deep green foliage is demure but sets a great stage for masses of violet blue small flowers with a more distinct red eye. Blooms continuously from Spring to late summer. To 8″ tall and about 2′ across for rich, well drained soil in full sun to light shade. Cute understory for Roses, mixes well in the front of a border, on sunny hillsides. Creates a haze of violet blue rather than a carpet. Cut back hard after blooming for an emergence of new handsome foliage for autumn/winter. Easy to grow long blooming plant.
Wonderful little small scale ground cover that delivers tiny blue/gray leaves and masses of small white flower clusters in summer. Semi-woody shrub that rises to only several inches tall (3″) but spreads densely to several feet wide in a circle. Excellent weed suppressing ground cover for tough sites. Light to average summer water speeds growth. Completely cold hardy. Full sun is ideal but you can hedge a little in part shade. Its worth it to prepare the soil and enrich with organic matter- double dig to de-compact the soil and add oxygen. Deep soaks in summer- to establish. Great in parking strips- not a full scale rampant groudcover- rather one that you use for a small area. Small shrubs and perennials can grow through it when planted at the same time. Evergreen. Mountains of New Zealand. Deer resistant. AKA Creeping Rice Flower.
Pittosporum tobira ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’
Useful somewhat formal looking ground cover shrub that is always good looking . To 2′ x 3′ slowly the dense deep green foliage is arranged handsomely. In May/June clusters of off white fragrant flowers appear- Not as heavily as the species but pretty none-the-less. Excels in hot dry situations- including the reflected heat of walls. Hardier to cold than generally thought. My 10 year old plants have never been damaged by cold- down below 10ºF. Avoid freezing cold exposed sites, however. Useful as a massed weed smothering ground cover. Deep green uniform appearance of foliage is just what many people are seeking. Drought tolerant. Evergreen. Hardy to 5ºF when established. Excellent appearance year round.
Our native Licorice Fern that has a backwards season. It emerges all fresh and happy with the first cool weather and rains in autumn and persists that way until hot weather takes hold, then it quietly (and cleanly) disappears. Forms spreading colonies on any light surface including the vertical slopes of rocks and trees. The base of the plant forms an interconnected series of rhizomes that cling to anything. It escapes all drought and heat by summer dormancy. Neat trick. If you detach the fronds and bite into the base of the petiole it delivers a strong anise/licorice flavor. This remarkable plant should be common in living walls and green roofs that would require no supplemental irrigation- and actually thrive and look healthy. Excellent performance in the ground in rich, well drained soil. Water as they say is irrelevant. Highly deer resistant. Oregon native plant.
Pratia (Lobelia) pedunculata ‘County Park’
Everyone is familiar with blue star creeper. Well what if one replaced the light blue flowers of that small plant with dark blue stars? You would get this magnificent small scale ground cover. Dense prostrate growth is a veritable pool of deep blue in May and June. Sporadic bloom until late summer. Just 1/2″ high at most it will spread to 1′-2′ in rich, aerated, well drained soil with regular summer water. Best performance is in part shade. Avoid the hottest driest sites. May be used among pavers. Dies out in heavy compacted soils- provide a top dress of compost annually to avoid this. Syn. Isotoma.
Ribbon lily or ribbon grass. Creeping evergreen perennial with ribbon like arching leaves arranged in fans. Spreads rapidly in rich, moisture retentive soil with protection from hot sun. To 8″ tall. In autumn, among the deep green leaves pink spikes open to white flowers. Not conspicuous but cute when you notice. Even more showy are the bright orange berries that persist through winter Great tough, low maintenance ground cover for part shade to shade. Accepts no summer water if there is protection from the sun. Great winter appearance even after the repeated arctic blasts and ice and snow of winter 2017. This tenacious plant has a real will to grow. It should be used everywhere. Not bothered by gastropods- surprisingly.
Rosmarinus (Salvia) officinalis ‘Hardy Prostrate Form’
You might be surprised to find that some Rosemaries are tender to cold. In general the clones of prostrate forms are less hardy. This is cuttings from a low growing plant that has weathered the coldest winters of the past 10 years- so we’re confident its reliable. Mounding evergreen shrub to 2′ tall x 6 wide in time. The branches closely follow the contours of anything in its path and is fetching as it trails over rock walls, boulders, anything that gets in the way. Soft blue flowers almost year round but peaking in the winter. Little water needed once established in soil that drains. Water to establish or to speed growth. Wonderful herb for cooking. Takes the hottest, most blasting sites with no stress. Moderate deer resistance. Excellent on steep slopes as it will root where stems touch the ground- important for erosion control. Very pretty planted with yellow flowered Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’. Similar cultural conditions and concurrent bloom. Syn Salvia rosmarinus). Full hot sun.
Hummingbird Salvia is a Californian Sage. In rich soil it spreads liberally by underground runners to colonize large areas. That is if winter does not knock it back. Large quilted soft green arrow shaped leaves appear in early spring, by late spring 28″ tall chalice’s of rich red/pink (Raspberry) flowers erupt from dramatic and well spaced whorls. Rich to average soil that drains well. Water well in the first season to establish then very light to none in subsequent years. A Salvia of southern and central California it has a distinctive aroma that is loved by some, despised by others. Mulch with dry leaves for the first winter or two. Doesn’t like wet plus subfreezing cold. Good, and restrained in a container. Protect containerized plants from extreme cold (below 20ºF). Nice and very dramatic cut flowers. Blooms March repeatedly until June. Great for hummingbirds, butterflies, and pollinators. Semi-deciduous in winter.
Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna
A superior Christmas box – purple stem Sarcococca is a slight improvement on this useful, fragrant, and durable evergreen shrub. Fine white flowers emit a strong sweet fragrance from late December to March. Slow spreading shrub that travels locally by suckers to form patches. To 2′ tall and up to 4′ wide if soil is rich, well drained and summer irrigation is reliable. Tolerates dense dry shade well. Black/red berries can follow the flowers into spring. Cold hardy to 0ºF. May burn in full sun- best with shade or at least protection from reflected heat- like an open north exposure. A member of the boxwood family that gives it high deer resistance. It can be slow to establish without regular irrigation in the first season. Water well and apply mulch. Though tough it pays to treat this shrub well from the beginning. Cut twigs that are blooming can perfume a room in winter. First and second year stems are deeply blushed purple- very pretty in contrast with the deep green simple leaves. Combines well with native ferns and perennials like Vancouveria and Epimedium. Native to S. central china.
Texas Cherry Skullcap is a wildflower with a mission. To bloom – not just a little but in sheets for all of summer with no supplemental irrigation. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t do that. Forms lows domes to 5″ high by 1′ wide and is smothered in cherry pink flowers from June well into autumn. Rich to average well drained soil and occasional summer irrigation. Cut back in spring after new growth has commenced. Full all day sun, reflected heat and not much else. Long lived and virtually carefree. One of the best surprises in my garden of the past 10 years. Excellent perennial that survives, grows and blooms prolifically with no summer water. Even in the drought and heat of 2021. Extraordinarily adapted to baking hellstrips.
Useful and pretty evergreen Sedum that thrives in diverse biomes but always looks good. In dry dappled shade it will create a dense spreading deep green colony. To 5″ tall by several feet wide. In full sun it will grow a little slower but regular water will speed things up. The bright green rosettes of leaves are perched atop stems. In early spring the whole plant is awash in gold flowers and attending pollinators. Rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer water. The more shade the less water is required. Nice ground cover for small areas. Dense and evergreen. Surprisingly cold hardy and amenable to life in our climate. Mexico.
Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’
Immensely useful, if rambunctious sedum that glows in vivid gold to chartreuse. The needle like leaves are vivid and line trailing stems. The stems root where they hit the ground- good local solution for erosion. Fast growing plant that spreads indefinitely in sun to quite a bit of shade. So easy to grow that I suggest you plant it in AVERAGE well drained soil. No need for amendments because the truth is once you have this plant you will always have it. Evergreen. Easy to remove from unwanted places. Simply pick it up off the ground and dispose. Or move it. I use this plant as a fast low water place holder when I’m deciding what to put in next. To plant simply toss it on the ground and water. You can bury it a little but its really not necessary. Avoid strongly compacted soil. Yellow flowers in early spring. Nice ground cover under trees. Hardy. Oh, so hardy.
Sedum sediforme ‘Spanish Selection’
A really good Sedum that I got from a friend who collected it on the Iberian Peninsula in the Spanish mountains. Very soft blue gray foliage is shaped like pine needles lining trailing stems. Forms a good ground cover very fast. In summer 10″ vertical stems support clouds of soft off white flowers. Very different from so many other Sedums that bloom yellow. This soft color is very effective in the garden and of course draws pollinators from miles around. When spent the stems remain erect and turn gray- they may easily be collected by simply giving each a soft tug- or a whole a handful and they will break cleanly. Full sun to very light shade. Average to enriched soil that is not compacted. Good looking year round appearance. Not quite as dense or prolific as Sedum reflexum but still good. Slopes, between shrubs, as competition for weeds. Roots along the ground as it grows. Moves with ease and may be used as a temporary place holder while you think of what to plant next. Simply scoop up the foliage and move it to another place. Actual planting is not necessary. Share with friends. Great in seasonal as well as winter containers. To several feet wide. Light summer water or none when established. Easy plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Aurea’
God I hate to pronounce this name. Its unpronounceable but its such a good and useful plant. We’ll just call it Golden Baby’s Tears- much easier. Golden tiny dense leaves on a spreading very very low, completely prostrate, just millimeters high ground cover. The golden hue is welcome in the shady, moist but well drained soil that this little baby likes. Don’t try to cover vast amounts of real estate with this plant. I can tell you now that it won’t work. Instead pick a small reasonable area where it can form a happy solid patch- maybe 2′ x 2′. In the part shade to shade that it seeks it will virtually glow. Freezes to the ground in severe cold- returns in spring from root bits and the recovery speeds along with truly warmer weather. Give it regular irrigation. It takes dry conditions in the shade. Terrariums, shade gardens, under bonsai, the floor level of modern containers. Useful pretty plant that is more commonly known as a houseplant.
Baby’s Tears is a useful and surprisingly hardy small scale ground cover. Famous for its role in terrariums its surprisingly hardy to cold as well. Tiny leaves overlap in a perfectly flat deep green ground cover. Part shade to shade but not terrible dry shade or compacted soils. Spreads to several feet wide in several seasons. Rich, moisture retentive soil that drains is ideal. Mist or water once a week to increase humidity which it very much appreciates. Freezes to nothing below 15ºF- resprouts from bits of root vigorously in spring. Do not try to cover the whole planet with this diminuitive plant. Instead isolate it to cool pools of green several feet wide. Excellent in containers or as an easy houseplant.
Tanecetum densum ‘Amani’
You can’t resist the finely divided feathery nearly white foliage of this great small scale ground cover. Foliage to 4″ tall and spreading to 2′ wide in full sun and well drained soil. Light summer water. Small flowers lacking petals have a center of off white/gold in early summer. Excellent performance on slopes as well as rock gardens. Evergreen. Loves life in the hellstrip.
Low ground cover Germander that is at home in hot sunny aspects in well drained conditions. The fine gray foliage rises to 5″ tall and forms a spreading plant. Beginning in early summer and extending to fall soft purple to lavender clusters of flowers cover the surface of the plant. Though small this plant is a huge hit with pollinators. Full, hot sun and light summer water to establish. Not a fan of heavy soils and sodden conditions In the wild this plant is primarily a resident of rocky sites and hillsides of the Mediterranean. This ever gray perennial is good looking in winter. Foliage is aromatic and has fruity tints to the fragrance. Mix with other smaller rock garden plants or develop a small area that acts as a groundcover. Loathes shade. Good container or trough plant. Grows up to 18″ wide in several years. Pollinator masterpiece. Moderate deer resistance.
A cute gold leaved form of asian star jasmine that makes a dainty evergreen vine for a trellis or arbor. Dense layered foliage is bright gold/chartruese and is best with some protection from hot afternoon sun. This is a slower growing Star Jasmine with a smaller dimension over all. This makes it a great candidate for smaller trelliage that you don’t want to obscure or cover entirely. Bone colored lightly fragrant flowers occasionally occur in late spring on wood from the previous season. To 9′ tall and 3′ wide in 7 years. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Part shade to shade or an open north exposure. May be self clinging in wind free situations. Very good cold hardiness and drought tolerant when established. Valuable little vine for shade. Lights up dark corners and even makes a handsome ground cover.
Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Chirofu Chirimen’
Cool little Asian Star Jasmine with tiny variegated leaves that forms dense mounds as a ground cover or in time it can reach up as a cute and not strangling vine. Each leaf is margined and splashed with white. New growth has distinct pink tints for a distinct multicolor effect. Forms a fine textured plant but as a small scale ground cover it will block weeds. To 1′ tall x 30″ wide as a ground cover. To 8′ tall or higher as a self clinging vine in wind free places. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Definitely double dig the soil before planting to incorporate oxygen as well as assist in absorption of water. Add organic fertilizer as well. Trachelospermums appreciate good drainage and regular summer irrigation to do their best. Otherwise drought tolerant but slow growing. Nice on fences or screens or up the trunk of a Trachycarpus (Windmill Palm). Good deer resistance. Evergreen.
Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Ogon Nishiki’
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.
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.
Rare perennial Siskiyou Inside-out-Flower is a much more drought tolerant version of our locally native Vancouveria hexandra (Inside out flower). This yellow flowered species tolerates extreme dry shade and colonizes even compacted dry soils to create a handsome ground cover. The delicate looking interestingly shaped leaves create a soft mound of shapes in cool green and edged slightly in red. In April-June 20″ wiry spikes suspend small downward pointing flowers- they appear to float above the foliage reminding me of a group of fireflies. (Wish we had those). Mostly evergreen if temperatures stay above about 15ºF. Basically this is our version of Epimedium (to which it is related) but with more tolerance for summer drought. To 8″ tall and spreading to several feet wide in richer, moisture retentive soil. Light summer water increases growth. This is an extraordinarily elegant native that should find a happy home in gardens too. Part shade to full shade. Not bothered by pests. Excellent perennial under large shrubs or within tree roots. In the wild it is the understory plant to Arctostaphylos, Rhododendron, Vaccinium, Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides. Associate perennials were Oxalis oreganus and Mianthemum as well as viola semperivrens- Redwood violet. Easy community to replicate in your garden. Oregon native plant.
Turkish speedwell is an excellent low water creeping ground cover that performs wonderfully in our climate. Flush with the ground this evergreen creeps in well drained average to enriched soil to several feet wide in several seasons. In April to May carpets of sky blue flowers obscure the entire plant. Very pretty. Roots as it grows, excellent for erosion control on a small scale on steep slopes. Regular summer water speeds growth but once established it takes summer drought very well. Full sun to the very lightest shade. Dies out in compacted soils- make sure to double dig the area around where it is to go to incorporate oxygen in the soil. For tired plantings simple overspread compost on top of it and let it settle between the leaves in early spring. Easy to grow hardy little ground cover. Moderate deer resistance.
Yerba de Selva or whipple vine, a wonderful small scale evergreen native ground cover. Related to Hydrangeas but this trailer is actually very droughtadapted.e In late spring clouds of small white flowers , 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. 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. This is a great native understory for Arctostaphylos, which is frequently seen in the wild. Oregon native plant.