A Few More Native Plants

Every so often I like to write a post about Pacific Northwest and West Coast native plants. I have many photos in my library and, since I've been thrown by the time change and other events, it seemed the logical thing to do, i.e., go through photos for perhaps a few I have not covered in a previous post. Some are repeats (deservedly so) and some might be new to this blog.

I encourage others to consider native plantings in your garden scheme for the plants attract specific native insects that specialize in specific plants. Native insects are great pollinators while also providing food for native birds, frogs and other critters. Even adding just one or two plants can make a difference! Here are just a few of the many Pacific Northwest and West Coast native plants that I grow here at Chickadee Gardens:

Ribes sanguineum, flowering currant. There are many forms of this in variations of white and pinks, some darker than others. This is simply the straight species that has color variants. This multi-stemmed large shrub can take sun or shade, but blooms better in sun.

 Asclepias speciosa, showy milkweed, which many of you know is the host plant for monarch butterflies. It was once a weed, that is to say abundant, but has since fallen out of favor, partially due to land development. I tell people if you plant it they will come. We had evidence of this at our old garden in the heart of a city where we found a monarch caterpillar. You can revisit that post here.

Diplacus aurantiacus (syn. Mimulus aurantiacus) or sticky monkey flower. This is an evergreen shrublet that appreciates being cut back to refresh it either in spring or summer. This is a seedling that spontaneously appeared here at Chickadee Gardens - there are three such seedlings and I baby them. I take cuttings to work so we can propagate it as it's a popular plant.

 Diplacus aurantiacus (syn. Mimulus aurantiacus) or sticky monkey flower - a photo of a second plant in the garden. If it gets too dry in summer it might go dormant, but fear not. They usually come back, although they tend to be short-lived. Well-drained soil for these.

Armeria maritima 'Victor Reiter' - our native sea thrift, in a cultivar form. It forms a mostly evergreen dense mat and in spring does this. You can shear the spent flowers for sporadic flushes through summer.

Armeria maritima 'Victor Reiter' with thyme and other full sun, dry loving plants.

Armeria maritima, this is the straight species. It has greener foliage than 'Victor Reiter' and deeper pink taller stemmed flowers. These are easy plants for the front of a border, a rocky place or crevice garden.

 Campanula rotundifolia, a little bellflower native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Very sweet and very easy. There is a white-flowering form as well.

Phlox diffusa that looks as if it has been chomped by something. This is a spreading phlox, purchased at Humble Roots Nursery in Mosier, Oregon.

Sidalcea campestris or checker mallow. A very pretty easy garden favorite that blooms for a very long period of time and has a nearly evergreen basal rosette. Pollinators love this plant and it does seed around politely. Its height makes it useful for the back of the border.

Wildflower mix of California poppies, Gilia capitata, Gilia tricolor, Nemophila maculata or baby five spot and others.

More native wildflowers.

Limnanthes douglasii or Western meadow foam. I've shown this plant before, but it's worth repeating. It's an annual but self-sows like crazy. It really does form an impenetrable mat against weeds and then in summer just dries up and goes away, leaving seeds behind. Xera Plants sell this plant, as does Bosky Dell Natives.

Common camas, Camassia quamash. The bulbs of this plant were an important food source for Native Americans. It's a pretty spring flowering bulb that spreads a little. It especially loves vernal streams. There is an amazing place in Saint Helens where I live called the Liberty Hill Camas Bluff. It is spectacular. It is in danger of development. Read here for more about this over 200 acre site of the most awe-inspiring wildflower meadow I have ever seen. It is so worth saving.

 Ratibida columnifera is more of an American Southwest native plant but it does attract pollinators and is a fun, easy plant for sun.

Clarkia amoena or godetia. I bought seeds and sowed them in the meadow area last year and they bloomed in their first year. I am hopeful that it dropped seeds for more blooms this year as it's an annual.

Penstemon pinifolius is another Southwest native plant loving well-drained soil and full sun. It forms a small evergreen mound and in spring is covered in these brilliant red tubular blooms that hummingbirds fight for. It is usually only about 10" or so high and spreads slowly to about 2'.

Penstemon pinifolius 'Melon' - the same conditions and habit as the regular species but this one sports melon-colored blooms. Not as floriferous as its cousin, but still lovely.

 Ceanothus cuneatus 'Adair Village' I have blogged about before, but it deserves more attention. This is a woody shrub native to the Willamette Valley. It has white flowers, takes zero summer water, is easy as can be on the edge of the property and always looks smart and upright. It too attracts pollinators.

Cornus sericea or red osier or red twig dogwood does this in fall. Need I say more? Really, though, it is a great spreading suckering shrub for difficult areas and can handle boggy areas just fine. It makes a great hedgerow and thick habitat for critters that appreciate the berries. It has white flowers in spring that attract many pollinators. You can coppice it every few years to keep it in check if you don't want it to spread.

Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' is a sweet if somewhat brittle little native sedum. These buds will open to bright yellow flowers that yes, the pollinators love. See a pattern here?

 Mahonia nervosa is one of three common Oregon grape varieties seen throughout the Willamette Valley. This one was on my property already, I just encourage it and keep it weeded so it can spread.

Oxalis oregana or redwood sorrel is a spreading woodland groundcover that I adore. I have a lot of room, though, so in a smaller garden you might want to get a less "happy" variety such as 'Klamath Ruby.' This stays pretty evergreen for me but new fresh growth comes every spring. This is a fantastic groundcover in dry shade - for example under fir trees.

This is dutchman's breeches or Dicentra cucullaria, a plant I grew in the old garden and have tried in the new. I keep failing, but that's likely due to being smothered by maple leaves. It's so cute it's worth growing for that reason alone. It is native to the Eastern U.S. and also the Pacific Northwest in smaller numbers.

Adiantum pedatum, northern maidenhair fern is a deciduous gorgeous delicate fern with black stems. It likes moist soil, grows about 2' high and can naturalize if you are lucky.

Heuchera micrantha is an evergreen heuchera with scalloped leaves and spikes of white flowers. It's easy, takes partial sun and dryish soil.

Lonicera ciliosa, our native orange honeysuckle that can be found climbing up trees in forests throughout the Pacific Northwest, especially at the edge of a forest. These can take sun and reach about 20'. 

Lonicera hispidula or hairy honeysuckle. Similar to L.ciliosa but with pink flowers. Did I mention that hummingbirds like these?

Ribes sanguineum 'White Icicle' has the same requirements and habit as the pink version. 

Physocarpus capitatus or Pacific ninebark. This photo was taken at my old garden, although I have many here in the new garden too. I love its habit of cascading down, it really is one of the prettiest native shrubs. It reaches about 12 - 15' high when left on its own, it appreciates wet soil but will do fine in drier woodland situations.

Aquilegia formosa, our native columbine. These were not only on the property already but have spread a little.

Geum macrophyllum or large-leaved avens is a good plant for out of the way areas you don't mind its spread. Once it's happy, it sticks around. A pretty flower, though - I think I planted it in the wrong spot. I'll try to move some to a better suited part of the property.

There you have it, a sampling of just a few native plants I grow here at Chickadee Gardens (or have grown). There are more out there that I simply must photograph, that's my goal this spring and summer to be able to showcase other great additions to your ornamental garden.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting. This blog, plants, nature, my husband, cats and all of you are what keep me sane these days. Thank you thank you.


  1. Have been adding a lot of native's to our property to lure in more beneficial insects but also because they look after themselves. A real plus in a big garden. Your photos show how lovely they can be when integrated into the larger picture. The thinking now that biodiversity is enhanced when we mix natives and non together. A win-win.

    1. Great points, for sure. Mostly they do look after themselves which is fantastic for those of us who have a lot of ground to cover.

      You are right, biodiversity with natives and non-natives is a win/win.

  2. Great rundown on great natives, and beautiful photos on top of that. Thank you. I was just admiring the Ribes in the Annie's catalog and wondering if I "needed" it.

    May I put in a good word (though you may previously have) for west coast native bulbs genus Triteleia? T. laxa (previously Brodiaea laxa) has been a well-behaved clump in my garden for 19 years, has a long (5-6 week) bloom in early summer, and requires no irrigation or care.

    1. Aw, thank you Hoover Boo! Ribes is so lovely, such an early bloomer and a super plant for hummingbirds.

      You MAY INDEED put in a good word for Triteleia! I wasn't familiar with it until you mentioned it here and I googled it. Wow...looks great! Will have to keep my eyes open for that. Thank you!

  3. The longer I garden, the more I appreciate the natives. Great post!

  4. Lovely specimens one and all, although relatively few are happy here. I killed Ribes sanguineum once but recently committed to find a place to try another when I discovered a large specimen growing happily just 5 miles away at my local botanic garden.

    1. Ah, indeed - true, most of these are sort of on the "more moisture" spectrum of natives (in general, compared to So. Cal). BUT there are great manzanitas and others that are wonderful for most West Coast gardens. That's amazing that a Ribes s. does well at your botanic garden. Totally worth a try for you. Also - Ribes speciosum is pretty cool...that might work for you? Anyone else have thoughts on a ribes for her area?

  5. I live in SW IN and I see a few common natives here. I am incorporating natives more and more into my garden.

    1. Yay! Glad there are a few common natives for you in Indiana. I forget how lucky we are here in Oregon to have an abundance in availability, many other gardeners across the U.S. might have a challenging time finding their own. Wonderful!! :)

  6. I would be interested in knowing what plants you've used in the berm area in the first photo. I have an area behind a retaining wall with almost the same conditions. I've been experimenting too and just have a few spots left to fill it.

    1. Hi Phillip, I am thinking you are commenting on the Oct. 1 2020 post about the autumn garden...for some reason your comment is here under the natives post. I'll send you a message.


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