Northwest Natives That Don’t Disappoint

Plan a low-maintenance landscape using regionally-adapted native plants.
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©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of American Beauties Native Plants

Photo By: Image courtesy of PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of American Beauties Native Plants

Photo By: Image courtesy of American Beauties Native Plants

Aquilegia formosa (Western columbine)

Nodding yellow and red blooms lure hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden. Plants flower from spring into early summer and are rabbit-resistant. Columbine typically self-sows if blooms are allowed to set seed and will form a pretty carpet of spring color. This is the easiest way to propagate this perennial. Western columbine thrives in partial to full shade and is hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

Camass lily (Camassia leichtlinii)

Camass lily (also called quamash) is a native bulb that sends up spires of white, blue, cream or purple star-shaped blooms in mid-spring. While they prefer sun to part shade and moist soils, they also grow well in drier soils. This plant is a favorite for deer, moose and elk as they graze in early spring. Native Americans dug and ate the bulbous roots, which taste similar to sweet potatoes. Camass lilies are hardy in Zones 5 to 8.

Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)

Celebrate spring with the delicate blooms and ferny foliage of Pacific bleeding heart. Nectar-rich blossoms beckon butterflies and hummingbirds. This tough woodland perennial is rabbit-resistant and hardy in Zones 4 to 8. Give Pacific bleeding heart sun in areas with cool summers; shade in warmer places.

American Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum)

American cranberrybush bursts with multi-season interest. Lacecap white blossoms in spring are followed by clusters of red berries in fall. Blooms nourish pollinating insects in spring; berries beckon birds. Leaves color shift through the seasons, with autumn foliage blazing a spectacular shade of red. Site plants in full sun to part shade. American cranberrybush is synonymous with and formerly known as highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). This shrub is hardy in Zones 2 to 7.

'Blizzard' Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’)

Butterflies and bees cannot resist the pure white blooms that blanket mock orange in late spring to early summer. The flowers exude a distinct citrusy fragrance. 'Blizzard' is a cultivar of the native shrub and offers a more compact size that suits modern yards. Mock orange is drought-tolerant once established, but providing a little water helps increase flower numbers. Plants thrive in full sun to part shade and are hardy in zones 3 to 8.

Scarlet Monkey Flower (Mimulus cardinalis)

As the name suggests, this monkey flower bears brilliant red blooms. Where bees pollinate other monkey flowers, hummingbirds are the pollinators for this perennial. Plant this beauty where it can sink its roots into moist soil, like you’d find along the banks of a creek or pond. The red blooms are snapdragon-like and appear on plants for months from spring into summer. Monkey flower is deer-resistant, tolerates occasional flooding and is hardy in Zones 5 to 10.

Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus)

For the partial shade garden, it’s tough to beat the feathery flowers of goat’s beard. This summer bloomer opens flower spikes up to 12 inches long. Plants are pest-free, deer-resistant and hardy in Zones 3 to 7. Place goat’s beard where you want it—plants form thick roots that often require a saw to cut. It’s best not to plan on dividing this shade-loving plant. Look for young shoots around the mother plant and attempt to transplant those.

Western Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

Western blue-eyed grass pairs pretty blue blooms with grassy foliage. The plants flower in late winter to early spring. Allow blossoms to set seed, and you’ll be rewarded with a spreading colony of blue-eyed grass. Some consider this native invasive, so take care where you site it and if you let it set seed. Once established, plants are drought-tolerant even in chaparral-type country. This perennial is hardy in Zones 9 to 11.

Arizona Sun Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata ‘Arizona Sun’)

Native blanket flower opens buds that reveal two-toned blossoms. Red-tinted centers fade to gold at fringed petal edges. Blanket flower demands full sun and well-drained, even poor soil. If soil is too rich, plants tend to get gangly and fall over. Deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, this perennial flowers from spring through summer. Blanket flower is hardy in Zones 6 to 10.

Standing Ovation Serviceberry (Amelancheir alnifolia ‘Obelisk’)

This hybrid of the native serviceberry tree packages the multi-season interest of the native into a more narrow, upright form that’s ideal for modern yards. Watch for white blossoms in spring, followed by tasty blue-hued berries in June. Birds love the berries, so if you want any for a pie, net trees. Fall color features shades of red and orange. Plants are hardy in Zones 2 to 7 and thrive in full sun to part shade.

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-forma ‘Lady in Red’)

Dark red stems stand out against chartreuse green fronds on this cultivated form of native lady fern, 'Lady in Red'. Choose lady fern for a lush groundcover in a shady garden. Plants tolerate full sun if soil stays consistently moist. This fern thrives in well-drained soil with average moisture, but plants can tolerate drier soil. Lady fern provides wonderful habitat for insects and ground-feeding birds. This fern is hardy in zones 4 to 8.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Resistant to deer, drought and powdery mildew, wild bergamot thrives in full sun in Zones 3 to 9. Lavender blooms open for many weeks in summer, attracting all kinds of pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds. Blooms make a nice addition to bouquets.

Common Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’)

For a carefree groundcover, choose common bearberry. This low-growing evergreen shrub thrives in spots where other plants fail, preferring sandy, well-drained soils on the acidic side. 'Massachusetts' brings good disease resistance to the garden, along with white blooms that fade to red berries. Birds love the berries, which sparkle against deep green leaves. Bearberry needs lean soil with no fertilizer and is hardy in zones 2 to 6.