Plants Made for the Northwest!

Our world has changed rapidly over the past year. We have been faced with many challenges but what remains is our commitment to beautifying our landscapes. Studies by leading researchers at Universities and psychologists have proven working in the soil is beneficial therapy. Working in the soil has given us focus to help clear our minds and ease our stress from the impacts of the Coronavirus.

Our winter rains are important, they give a freshness to the air and plants. However, our soils are generally acidic due to the rains washing out nutrients and replacing it with hydrogen ions. Although, it’s always a good idea to do a soil test before planting a new landscape to accurately determine your soil composition. Fortunately, there are still a lot of possibilities with trees or shrubs that perform well in acidic soils.

Hydrangeas are the perfect addition to any landscape and there are literally hundreds to choose from in countless colors. Shrubs that are sun lovers and shade lovers are found in every nursery at affordable prices. Mopheads or Bigleaf Hydrangeas are traditionally used in floral displays for their large, vibrant blooms. ‘Alice’ Oakleaf Hydrangeas are also an attractive option for dried or fresh cut flower displays with large blooms and gorgeous fall color.

Homes all over the neighborhood have streets lined with blooms of Rhododendrons and Azaleas. One reason is because they are so resilient. Rhododendrons especially can be pruned far back or easily maintained at a shorter height. If you’re a more relaxed gardener and you have the space you can let your Rhododendron grow with a more organic shape and prune only the dead and diseased as needed. ‘Pink Ruffle’ Azalea often pairs well with Rhododendrons.

In terms of flowering trees Camellias are a popular choice generally in shades of pink, red, yellow, and white. There are different bloom types to choose from: single, semidouble, anemone, peony, rose form double, and formal double. Each form features a certain petal arrangement and number of petals. They have large outstanding blooms often with late winter color. A gorgeous ‘Unryu’ Camellia japonica will compliment any landscape growing up to roughly six feet in height and four feet in width. Keep these shrubs out of the intense hot afternoon sun and they will look glorious year-round with glossy evergreen foliage.

These plants are generally hardy for our area and need little care. In the fall, before the cold weather begins, after weeding a top dressing of blueberry mulch would be beneficial. This product is a good amendment for plants that prefer higher soil acidity because the bark will eventually decompose into the soil. I know several people that also use Lane Garden Compost. Both of these products will help with moisture retention and keep the roots warm during those cold months.

Written by Karen Smith, Lane Forest Products Plant Specialist