Elisabeth C. Miller Library

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Search Results for: Native plants--Care and maintenance | Search the catalog for: Native plants--Care and maintenance

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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Rhamnus purshiana, Pyrus, Nyssa, Hovenia, Oxydendrum arboreum, Cornus nuttallii, Malus, Crataegus, Native plants--Care and maintenance, Quercus, Prunus, Acer

Can you recommend some tree species (deciduous) that can have wet feet but will also tolerate dry conditions in the summer? The recommendations should be trees that are not too messy (no cottonwoods or alders, please) and not too big. I would like to plant some trees near a swale in my yard - so they could be sitting in soggy ground during the winter.


Following is a list of possibilities, most of which come from Water Conserving Plants for the Pacific Northwest West of the Cascades (by the N.W. Perennial Alliance, 1993). The list includes only trees that 1) thrive in soils which are waterlogged in the winter, and, 2) grow to less than 40 feet tall.

ACER (maple):
A. buergeranum (trident maple)
A. campestre (field maple)
A. ginnala (Amur maple)
A. circinatum (vine maple)
CORNUS nuttallii (western dogwood)
C. douglasii (black hawthorn)
C. monogyna
C. phaenopyrum (Washington thorn)
C. x lavallei (Carriere hawthorn)
HOVENIA dulcis (Japanese raisin tree)
MALUS fusca (Pacific crab apple)
NYSSA sylvatica (black gum)
OXYDENDRUM arboreum (sourwood)
PRUNUS (prune/plum/cherry):
P. virginiana var. melanocarpa (chokecherry)
P. emarginata (bitter cherry)
PYRUS (pear):
P. communis (common pear)
P. pyrifolia (Chinese pear, sand pear)
QUERCUS (oak):
Q. acutissima (sawtooth oak)
Q. imbricaria (shingle oak)
RHAMNUS purshiana (cascara)

Date 2018-09-26
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Calamagrostis, Melica, Elymus, Bromus, Festuca, Native plants--Care and maintenance, Ornamental grasses, Drought-tolerant plants

I am looking for a native, drought-tolerant grass for a small garden plot in Seattle. Can you suggest a grass that is 2-3 feet tall and at most 2 feet wide.


Native grasses that will do well in a dry meadow setting and grow 2-3 feet tall are:

Festuca idahoensis, Idaho fescue
Bromus carinatus and Bromus marginatus, brome grasses
Elymus glaucus, wild rye grass
Melica species, onion grasses
Calamagrostis nutkaensis, Pacific reedgrass

Each of these grasses grow in very distinct shapes--I recommend that you look at them before choosing which species to plant. Fescues are popular grasses for gardens because of their fine blades and pretty seed heads. Additionally, the Elymus and Bromus will grow much more quickly than the other species.

You can perform searches on each of these species at the USDA Plants Database by typing the plant name into the Plants Name search box--
this database will give you additional information about the species and some pictures.

The Washington Native Plant Society website has a list of native plant vendors.

Date 2019-01-25
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Oplopanax horridus, Perennials--Care and maintenance, Native plants--Care and maintenance

My question is about Oplopanax horridus. I planted one last winter in deep shade. It has lost its leaves and appears to have gone dormant. 1) Does devil's club go dormant in the winter? 2) If not, then could it come back with watering in the winter climate or am I better to rip it out and put in another one? 3) How frequently should devil's club be watered in a normal summer and assuming good loam soil?


Devil's club does lose its leaves in the winter. Quoting from the source cited below, it is hardy down to at least 5 degrees F, although the young growth is likely to be cut back by spring frosts...On cool moist soils, it forms tall, impenetrable thickets...Plant in sun or part-shade.
(Source: The New Royal Horticulture Society Dictionary of Gardening, Vol.3, 1992, p. 378)

Additionally, devil's club "grows in well-drained to poorly drained soils with sandy, silty, or loamy textures," which indicates that it will appreciate regular watering that ensures moist soil in the summer.
(Source: Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants, R. Rose, et al, 1998, p. 129)

Date 2018-10-20
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Native plants--Washington, Native plants--Care and maintenance

Where can I buy plants native to the Pacific Northwest?


The Miller Library website has information on sources for native plants - see the section on finding northwest native plants.

Below is a list of nurseries close to Seattle:
1. MsK Rare and Native Plant Nursery (and lots of NW natives) in Shoreline
2. Washington Native Plant Society plant sales and native plant and seed sources
3. Woods Creek Wholesale (and Retail) Nursery in Monroe, WA

King County's Native Plant Guide has a list of sources, as does PlantNative.

Date 2019-05-10
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Acorus, Thalia, Typha latifolia, Sagittaria latifolia, Pontederia cordata, Cornus alba, Cornus stolonifera, Spiraea douglasii, Athyrium filix-femina, Lysichiton americanus, Scrophularia, Wetland plants, Carex, Native plants--Care and maintenance, Slope stabilization and soil erosion, Iris, Deer

We need some advice and we are hoping you can help. We would like to replant the banks of our fish pond and want to know what kinds of plants would hold a steep slope and be compatible with the fish and each other. We have a large deer and elk population and we get substantial amounts of rain. We like grass-type shrubs and we need a ground cover that will not take over and is evergreen.


From the research I have done, it seems that a pond with a sloping side is a very good idea, but if erosion is a serious issue, you may want to think about both plants and physical controls such as coconut fiber matting to stabilize the banks. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden's guide (1997), The Natural Water Garden, has a description of using coconut fiber tubes (also called biologs) laid horizontally along a bank, which can also be used as a secure planting medium for seedlings.

As far as deer-resistant plants which may work for your site, iris and spiraea appear to be unappealing to deer, so you might want to try some of the irises which prefer moist situations, such as Iris laevigata, and Iris versicolor (blue flag), as well as Spiraea douglasii (hardhack).

Other plants which may help with preventing erosion are Lysichiton americanum (skunk cabbage), Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern), Carex obnupta (sedge), and Cornus stolonifera (red osier dogwood) or C. alba (red twig dogwood).

Some grassy or reedy plants which do well as marginal (water's edge) plants include Acorus calamus 'Variegatus' (variegated sweet flag), Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed), Sagittaria latifolia (American arrowhead), and Typha latifolia (cattail). All of these are deciduous.

For evergreen plants, you could try Scrophularia auriculata 'Variegata' (water figwort), an evergreen perennial with cream-edged foliage. The flowers should be deadheaded to prevent self-seeding. Thalia dealbata (hardy canna) is evergreen, with long-stalked blue-green leaves and violet flower spikes.

Date 2019-05-22
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Native plants--Care and maintenance

I am setting up a native plant garden in Seattle this fall. Since the plants I'm choosing are adapted to our dry summers, is it OK for my landscape to go without supplemental water next summer?


Expect that your new garden will still need some supplemental water next July and August. People often ask why it is necessary to water plants that can grow with just rainfall in the wild. Depending on the situation, though, it can be essential for several reasons. Our city gardens often have hot areas of paving nearby, and soil that's compacted, sandy, or poor compared to forest or meadow soils. Wild plants spring up from seed or spread underground to where they can find water and other necessary conditions for their species, while the roots of transplants must suddenly support a whole plant in a new environment that is likely quite different than the native plant nursery where they were grown, and may also differ from the conditions for which they are ideally adapted. Climate change is a factor, too.

A great book that can help you with planning and maintaining landscapes with our native plants is April Pettinger and Brenda Constanzo's Native Plants in the Coastal Garden. The authors emphasize the importance of siting your native plants well, in communities of plants that are suitable for the conditions you have. Their list of plants for dry places may be helpful to you if you are still choosing plants.

Date 2019-02-02
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