Articles in Category: Native

Amsonia 'Blue Ice'

on Monday, 31 May 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Flowering Plants

'Blue Ice' Bluestar

Amsonia Blue Ice edit

The American Horticultural Society named Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ as one of its “75 Great Plants for American Gardens’, and it is easy to see why! Easy to grow, attractive foliage, lovely periwinkle-blue flowers, and great fall color: Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ deserves a space in any sunny perennial garden.

 

‘Blue Ice’ is native to the southeastern US, but is finding increasing popularity here on the West Coast. It gets about 15” tall by 24” wide and has a nice, soft clumping shape, which helps it blend in nicely with other plants in a mixed border. Late spring/early summer flowers put on a great show – and in the fall, the foliage turns a warm golden color.

 

Plants grow best in full sun – they get a little soft and floppy in partial shade - and deadheading will help prolong flowering. ‘Blue Ice’ is tolerant of most soils; even clay soil, as long as the soil isn’t waterlogged. As an added bonus, the latex sap in plant stems makes it unpalatable to deer, but butterflies and other pollinators find the flowers irresistible!

Native Iris

on Friday, 26 March 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Native Iris species

Iris innominata resizeHere in southern Oregon, we’re fortunate to have a nice selection of native Iris available for our gardens. While our native Iris lack the in-your-face showiness of their Bearded Iris relatives, they do have a lovely, refined look to them that many gardeners prefer. They’re also tough, sturdy plants that are both deer-resistant and relatively drought tolerant.

Native Iris do best in sunny to light-shade areas, and work beautifully in borders, or as part of a woodland garden. They bloom from March into late June (depending upon species) and only require occasional water during the summer months – because these plants are already adapted to our summer-dry Mediterranean climate. In addition, most species feature colorful ‘veins’ on the flowers that serve as nectar guides for bees and other pollinators.

The one requirement these plants do have is that they require well-drained soil. If your soil tends toward clay, plant them on a slight mound so excess water can drain away from their crowns quickly – or plant them in pots!

Here are a few species of native Iris that Shooting Star carries regularly:

 

Iris bracteata2Iris bracteata: Also known as Siskiyou Iris, this lovely plant is endemic to the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and northern California. Flowers are generally creamy white to pale yellow, with contrasting veins of a rich brownish-purple. Plants feature slender leaves, and grow between 6-12” tall. 

 

Iris chrysophylla2Iris chrysophylla: Another Iris from southern Oregon and Del Norte County, California. Iris chrysophylla is generally a pale yellow with contrasting purple veins. Plants range from 6”-2’ tall, and are easily distinguished from I. bracteata by their extremely long floral tube.  

Douglas Iris2Iris douglasiana: Named after Scottish botanist David Douglas, Iris douglasiana can vary widely in color – from nearly white with blue accents to a rich deep purple. They also prefer part-sun to full shade in the garden, and like water every 2 to 4 weeks during the summer months. If you have encountered a blue Iris while hiking along the coast, it was probably Douglas Iris! 

 

Iris tenax: Also known as Tough-Leafed Iris, ranging from southwest Washington to northern Oregon. In the wild, it is usually found along roadsides and in grasslands and forest openings. Flowers are generally lavender-blue in color, and plants grow in tight clumps – about 1-1/5’ tall. Unlike most other Iris, Tough-leafed Iris does not like to be divided.

 

Pac CoasrPacific Coast Hybrids: Pacific Coast Iris hybrids are the real showstoppers of the group. Flowers come in an incredible range of colors – blues, purples, reds, oranges, browns, and multicolors; often with showy ruffled petals. They’re also the fussiest of the bunch (but well worth the effort!): they don’t tolerate clay soils or watering during the heat of the day, and prefer not to be divided every year.

 

If you’d like to try creating your own native Iris hybrids, it’s easy to do – and a lot of fun. Since most of the Iris described above have similar cultural requirements, you can create mixed plantings of several species. Iris hybridize freely – just collect the seeds when they are ripe, grow them out, and see what exciting color variations you come up with!

Thuja plicata, 'Western Red Cedar', 'Arborvitae'

on Tuesday, 26 January 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, Conifer, Native, Evergreen, Trees

1/26/21

thujaPlicataGeneralThuja plicata, commonly known as 'Western Red Cedar', or 'Arborvitae', is native to the Pacific Northwest and a popular tree for privacy screens. With naturally flowing branches, soft, fragrant, evergreen foliage, and a full-bodied pyramidal form it stays attractive all year. These trees can literally provide complete privacy with little maintenance in just a few years.

thujaExcelsaWestern Red Cedars look great when left in their natural shape, but respond extremely well to shearing or pruning for a more uniform shape. 

The ease of growing Arborvitae is partly because they tolerate almost any soil type, are cold hardy, and somewhat deer resistant. They are not picky plants, however, they do best when planted in ideal conditions. Just make sure they are planted in well-draining soil and give them adequate water. They can take full to part sun but do best when they get some afternoon shade from the summer sun.

thujaVirescensOnce established, they are drought tolerant and don’t need much attention other than seasonal watering adjustments. Be careful to not overwater them, especially during the hottest days of summer!

There are several different cultivars of Western Red Cedar. Although they all share similar characteristics in foliage, form, location needs, one difference is the rate of growth and size at maturity. 

 

thujaSpecs2

Polystichum munitum

on Wednesday, 30 September 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Western Sword Fern

Western Sword FernThe sculptural fronds of ferns provide lots of winter interest, and Western Sword Fern is one of the toughest, most drought tolerant, and easiest ferns to grow in the Rogue Valley. 

This native fern can tolerate our dry summers and wet winters and even take a little sun. It prefers to be an understory plant but established ferns in good, composty soil will tolerate quite a bit of sun. The key is to get them well established with deep waterings the first few summers and applications of yearly leaf mulch or compost mulch. Western Sword Fern has a courser texture than some more delicate ferns but that makes their fronds last longer, allowing them to be used in cut flower arrangements. The leathery, dark green fronds can be 2-4' tall depending where they are grown and can be used alone or look especially good in clumps or drifts. 

fiddleheadWe like to use Western Sword Ferns under large trees, like oaks, combined with Euphorbia purpurea, Heuchera sanguinea or the purple leafed varieties of Coral bells, Mahonia repens, and other dry shade perennials and shrubs. All ferns are deer resistant and the Western Sword Fern is no exception. They are evergreen but will look their best with an annual shearing of the oldest fronds in spring to allow the new fronds to uncurl. Leave the old, pruned fronds as a natural mulch.  Ferns are always interesting to watch throughout the seasons and Western Sword Fern makes an especially nice evergreen specimen in the shade garden.

Rhamnus californica

on Friday, 18 September 2020. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Native, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

California Coffeeberry

Coffeeberry

Coffeeberry is a great candidate for that hard-to-fill niche of an evergreen native shrub that also attracts birds and pollinators; is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and fire resistant; and even makes a good hedge or screen. In fact, it may well be the only plant that fills that niche!

Coffeeberry is a west coast native; occurring from southern Oregon all the way south into Baja California. It gets its common name from its fruit: berries that change from green to red to almost black over the course of the year. The flowers are inconspicuous (although pollinators notice them just fine) but the birds definitely notice the colorful berries.

Rhamnus makes a great hedge, usually growing at a medium rate to 6-8' tall and wide, with the potential to get larger in more wooded areas. The named variety 'Eve Case’ has broader and brighter, green foliage and will stay a bit more compact at 4-8' wide and tall. Its leaves are long and pointed and are a matte green with a paler underside.

Coffeeberry prefers full sun but can also be happy in part shade or a more wooded garden. In the Rogue Valley, it can tolerate the heat and most soils, although it prefers a sandy, well-draining soil. This is truly a drought-tolerant plant - once established, it can survive on no irrigation. To keep it more fire resistant, though, we recommend giving it a deep soak every two weeks during the summer months. We have found Coffeeberry to be deer resistant in most situations, especially once established. Deer may have a tendency to chew the new growth, but will leave plants alone when they get some size on them.

If you are new to growing native plants, this is a great plant to start with. Try it out to see how easy, attractive, and sustainable native plants can be in your garden!