Articles in Category: Native

Native Iris

on Thursday, 10 March 2022. 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!

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward'

on Tuesday, 22 February 2022. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'King Edward' Red Flowering Currant

Ribes King EdwardFlowering currants are one of the glories of the early Spring garden, with their cascades of brightly-colored flowers and soft green, scalloped leaves. And one of our very favorite flowering currants is Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward’.

A cultivar of our native Ribes sanguineum, 'King Edward' has darker pink flowers than the native species, followed by dark blue berries in the summer. Both ‘King Edward’ and the native species are absolute magnets for hummingbirds and other pollinators. Later in the seasons, berry-loving songbirds like robins, thrushes, grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, etc., flock to the berries (which taste better to them than they do to humans, so we’re happy to share!).

Flowering currants will bloom heaviest when in full sun, but in hotter areas like the Rogue Valley, they also appreciate a bit of afternoon shade. In fact, they’re also a great choice for dry shade gardens or for planting under an oak or other large tree. ‘King Edward’ will grow in a variety of soils but does require good drainage; if you plant in clay, place it on a mound or along a slope. Being a native plant, they are used to dry summers and wet winters, and will do best if you can mimic those conditions in your garden.

'King Edward' grows quickly and has a lovely open habit that mixes well with other plants. They can get at least 4-5' tall and wide, and are also relatively drought tolerant once established.

Thuja plicata

on Tuesday, 04 January 2022. Posted in Good for Screening, Conifer, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Evergreen, Trees

Western Redcedar

T plicataThuja plicata, commonly known as Western Redcedar, is native to the Pacific Northwest and a is a popular, sturdy, and graceful evergreen frequently used in tall hedges or as a privacy screen. 

Quinault Lake RedcedarSouthwest Oregon is near the most southern edge of Western Redcedar’s range, which extends north into Washington and British Columbia. The largest Redcedars in the world are true forest giants, and can be found in the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, where several trees near 200’ tall by 60’ wide have been found.

Because the climate here in the Rogue Valley is hotter and drier that that of the Olympic Peninsula, plants here will generally get about 50-70’ all and 15-25’ wide at maturity, if left untrimmed.

T plicata 2Western Red Cedars look great when left in their natural shape, but they also respond extremely well to shearing or pruning. They grow at a moderate rate – roughly between 15-24”/year - and are generally pest and disease resistant. They’re also very pollinator-friendly, and serve as host plants for dozens of native butterflies and moths. Once established, Western Redcedar is relatively drought tolerant, and will generally only require deep watering once or twice a month.

As a group, Thujas of multiple species are widely used as hedges and privacy screens. They’re all easy to grow, relatively fast growing, have nice densely pyramidal shapes, and are tolerant of clay soils as long as the soils aren’t soggy. You will want to cage them to protect them from deer when they are young, but they grow quickly enough that you'll only likely going to need to do this for the first few years.

Thuja emerald greenShooting Star Nursery carries several different kinds of Thuja in large pots and as ball & burlap plants: Western Redcedar (T. plicata), Virescens and Excelsa - T. plicata cultivars, Green Giant and Virginian - hybrids of a cross between T. plicata and T. standishii (Japanese Arborvitae), and Emerald Green - a T. occidentalis (Northern White Cedar) cultivar. See the table below for more information. 

Fun fact: One of the common names for Thuja is Arborvitae (Latin for Tree of Life). Early French settlers to North America gave it that name when they encountered an east coast Thuja species (T. occidentalis), and learned from Native Americans in the region of the many uses the plant had: decay-resistant wood for building canoes and houses, sturdy fibrous bark used for clothing and cording, and roots and leaves with a variety of medicinal purposes. 

 Botanical Name Growth Rate/Year  Mature Height  Mature Width 
Western Redcedar  Thuja plicata 15-24" 50-70'

 15-25'

         
 Virescens T. plicata cultivar 18-24" 20-30' 9-12' 
         
 Excelsa T. plicata cultivar  20-36" to 40' 15-20'
         
 Green Giant T. plicata x T. stanfordii 3-5' 25-30' 10-12' 
         
 Virginian T. plicata x T. stanfordii up to 3' 15' 6'
         
 Emerald Green T. occidentalis 12-15" 12-15' 3-4'

Calocedrus decurrens

on Tuesday, 30 November 2021. Posted in Conifer, Showy Bark/Stems, Native, Drought Tolerant

Incense Cedar

Calocedrus with fruit

If you have room for even one large conifer in your yard, Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) would top our list of recommendations!

Incense Cedars are native to the West coast; ranging all the way from northern Baja California up into central Oregon and western Nevada. Unlike many of the popular conifers frequently planted here in the Rogue Valley, Incense Cedar is heat and drought tolerant, and is tolerant of both clay and serpentine soils.

They get their common name from their wonderfully spicy-smelling, aromatic bark. Plants feature flattened sprays of rich green needles, with a rich reddish-brown bark that becomes deeply furrowed with age.

Calocedrus decurrensYoung trees are dense, symmetrical, and pyramid-shaped which – happily – also makes them an excellent choice for a living Christmas tree.

tanner lakes titanIncense Cedars generally grow at a moderate rate (1-2’/year) and will probably reach a height of 60' - 70' when grown in your yard. Wild trees can get much bigger though. In fact, one of the largest Incense Cedars in the world - the Tanner Lakes Titan - is from right here in Jackson County, and is over 137' tall, with an amazing dbh (diameter at breast height) of 12.8'!

Fun fact: the genus name Calocedrus comes from the Greek words kalos meaning beautiful and cedrus meaning cedar tree!

Rhus 'Gro-Low'

on Monday, 08 November 2021. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Deer Resistant

'Gro-Low' Fragrant Sumac

Rhus Gro Low plant edRhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ is another one of those plants we like to feature here in our Plant of the Week column, because it checks all our boxes: a native plant; deer resistant and drought tolerant once established; a great pollinator plant (functioning as both nectar source and a host plant for butterflies/moths); wildlife-friendly; a good choice for firewise gardens; and is even clay tolerant if planted on a slope or a mound.

As its name suggests, Rhus ‘Gro-Low’ only gets 1 ½’ to 2’ tall, and spreads to 6 to 8’ wide, giving it a nice mounded shape. Plants are fast-growing, with attractive (and fragrant!) glossy green leaves. It grows best in full sun, but will also tolerate a slight bit of afternoon shade.

Small, nondescript creamy-white flowers appear on branch tips in spring. While humans might not be impressed by the flowers, they’re a wonderful source of nectar for pollinators including bees and butterflies. ‘Gro-Low’ is a great plant to use if you are looking to extend the length of the bloom season in your pollinator garden.

Rhus Gro Low2Rhus ‘Gro-Low’ also proves that great fall color doesn’t only come on trees! These shrubs but on quite a show, with leaves turning a variety of shades of fiery orange, mahogany red, and deep burgundy. 

Finally, because of its ability to spread via root suckers and by branches that are able to root down where they touch the soil (like some species of Manzanitas), ‘Gro-Low’ is an especially useful plant for gardeners looking to stabilize a slope or an eroding streambank.