Mules Ears are rare in cultivation. These cheery bold perennials make the transition of our wild flowers from spring into real summer. So named for its long leaves it forms very permanent spreading colonies in clay soils in habitat. The brilliant yellow sun flower blossoms rise up on sturdy stems directly from the ground. Each ebullient large flower is about 4″ across. Blooms appear from late April to early June. This plant usually finishes blooming just as summer drought commences. Its a memorable sight in wild meadows where it blooms simultaneously with native Rosa nutkana and Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi) and Giant blue eyed mary (Collinsia grandiflora). Wonderful cut flower and immediate and popular pollinator perennial. This plant was once very common in the Willamette Valley but civilization has immensely shrunk its native range. Good, long lived garden plant that goes summer dormant quickly after blooming has ended. The leaves turn gray and brittle and can easily be removed then. Give it a summer rest w/ little to no summer water once established. Full sun to very light shade. Water to establish its first season then none in subsequent years. Fun to grow and LONG lived. To 14″ in bloom forming a plant several feet across. Moderate deer resistance. Native to the Portland city limits. Very slow to finish in a salable size. Patience. Limited quantities. Oregon native plant
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Perennials are the organic heart of the garden. They return year after year and represent the most sustainable type of gardening. We offer varieties that are difficult to find, that are extraordinary in performance. Evergreen perennials make up a large component in our climate where snow is limited and landscapes are green. They maintain a continuity through the darkest days of the year. Many of our perennials are drought adapted when established and combine well with drought adapted shrubs. We are constantly expanding our offering of native perennials- a category sorely lacking in our gardens.
Native perennials have specific requirements
Just because a plant is native does not automatically mean that it is easy to grow in a garden. In fact, adaptation to summer drought means that you are in greater danger of overwatering than under watering. Many native perennials are slow to finish to sale size. Adelina, Wyethia, are two examples of highly sought native perennials. Turns out it takes about 3 years for them to bulk up to a size that we feel confident will survive when sold and planted out. Conversely, there are many native plants that are easy to grow in container culture but they have a rough transition and low transplant survival rate- most often they are adapted to specific edaphic conditions (soil conditions) and those must be replicated in the garden as close as possible.
Extra care for natives, protection from invasive plants
Finally, the biggest threat to native perennials is being swamped by invasive non-native grasses and weeds. You can’t just randomly plant them out and expect them to adapt immediately. Treat them as well as you would any perennial. Add a touch of all organic fertilizer to the planting hole and definitely mulch and make very sure to protect them from invasive plants. Non-natives are adapted to horrible, compacted soil of all types- they are survivors that are adapted to win. Plant densely and by all means, MULCH and care for your native plants they require our assistance.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Calla Lily- the dream of many gardeners and an heirloom perennial that has been grown in our region for eons. Large clump forming perennial with dramatic pure white flowers with the familiar form. They begin in early spring with a large flush of bloom and then sporadically until frost. The large boisterous foliage is mostly evergreen and rises to 2′ tall with flower spikes twice as tall. Deer resistant. In cold gardens it is traditionally grown agains warm foundations. But I have seen it thrive in the wide open in the coldest parts of the Willamette Valley. Amenable to saturated soils and can reside as a marginal plant in a pond. Rich, well drained soil is ideal. Water VERY heavily the first summer to establish- then light consistent water in summer. Full sun to quite a bit of shade but at the expense of flowering. Can be a little tricky to establish and ironically it can be a little hard to get rid of once you have it. Lives for many decades. South Africa.