An Interview with Head Grower Erik Petersen, Part 1

Erik Petersen

If you’ve visited Shooting Star Nursery, you’ve probably noticed that we have large areas in and around our hoophouse that are flagged with ‘Not For Sale Yet’ signs. These plants are all part of our onsite growing operations.

We asked our Head Grower, Erik Petersen, to tell you a bit about the plants we grow here at the nursery, and what the benefits of buying locally-grown plants are.

What kinds of plants does Shooting Star grow onsite? We grow and propagate regionally-appropriate, unusual, and hard to source plants; mostly perennials, grasses, and shrubs.

HoophouseAbout how many plants does the nursery grow onsite? Approximately 50,000 perennials, 15,000 ornamental grasses, and 19,000 shrubs per year - in sizes ranging from 4” to 15-gallon pots.

How long does it take for a plant to go from a tiny plug to being ready for the sales floor? Most perennials take approximately 8-10 weeks to finish in a 1-gallon container. Grasses can range from 6-10 weeks, depending on the variety and season. And some plants, like Echinacea, can take 12-14 weeks of grow time!

Growing Grounds edit smAre there benefits to purchasing plants that are grown locally? Yes! To begin with, the plants we grow here at the nursery are already acclimated and accustomed to our local climate and seasons, rather than plants having just arrived from Portland or the Willamette Valley.

We don't overly push our plants with heavy fertilizers, and they aren’t coddled in hot houses. They aren't addicted to liquid feed fertilizers that just promote big blooms and overgrowth and lead plants to failing once they’re planted in your yard. As a result, our plants adapt quickly and easily to your garden.

In addition, our growing practices are ecologically minded: we incorporate lots of natural Integrated Pest Management in our growing methods, and never ever use neonicotinoids – which are extremely harmful to pollinators.

Supporting the nursery also allows us to grow and share lots of cool, unusual plants you won't find at big box stores or from huge nurseries that grow large quantities of a few standard offerings. Finally, when you buy locally grown plants from Shooting Star Nursery, you’re supporting a local business and a local staff. Thank you!