Articles in Category: Native

Thuja plicata

on Tuesday, 04 January 2022. Posted in Good for Screening, Conifer, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Evergreen, Trees

Western Redcedar

T plicataThuja plicata, commonly known as Western Redcedar, is native to the Pacific Northwest and a is a popular, sturdy, and graceful evergreen frequently used in tall hedges or as a privacy screen. 

Quinault Lake RedcedarSouthwest Oregon is near the most southern edge of Western Redcedar’s range, which extends north into Washington and British Columbia. The largest Redcedars in the world are true forest giants, and can be found in the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, where several trees near 200’ tall by 60’ wide have been found.

Because the climate here in the Rogue Valley is hotter and drier that that of the Olympic Peninsula, plants here will generally get about 50-70’ all and 15-25’ wide at maturity, if left untrimmed.

T plicata 2Western Red Cedars look great when left in their natural shape, but they also respond extremely well to shearing or pruning. They grow at a moderate rate – roughly between 15-24”/year - and are generally pest and disease resistant. They’re also very pollinator-friendly, and serve as host plants for dozens of native butterflies and moths. Once established, Western Redcedar is relatively drought tolerant, and will generally only require deep watering once or twice a month.

As a group, Thujas of multiple species are widely used as hedges and privacy screens. They’re all easy to grow, relatively fast growing, have nice densely pyramidal shapes, and are tolerant of clay soils as long as the soils aren’t soggy. You will want to cage them to protect them from deer when they are young, but they grow quickly enough that you'll only likely going to need to do this for the first few years.

Thuja emerald greenShooting Star Nursery carries several different kinds of Thuja in large pots and as ball & burlap plants: Western Redcedar (T. plicata), Virescens and Excelsa - T. plicata cultivars, Green Giant and Virginian - hybrids of a cross between T. plicata and T. standishii (Japanese Arborvitae), and Emerald Green - a T. occidentalis (Northern White Cedar) cultivar. See the table below for more information. 

Fun fact: One of the common names for Thuja is Arborvitae (Latin for Tree of Life). Early French settlers to North America gave it that name when they encountered an east coast Thuja species (T. occidentalis), and learned from Native Americans in the region of the many uses the plant had: decay-resistant wood for building canoes and houses, sturdy fibrous bark used for clothing and cording, and roots and leaves with a variety of medicinal purposes. 

 Botanical Name Growth Rate/Year  Mature Height  Mature Width 
Western Redcedar  Thuja plicata 15-24" 50-70'

 15-25'

         
 Virescens T. plicata cultivar 18-24" 20-30' 9-12' 
         
 Excelsa T. plicata cultivar  20-36" to 40' 15-20'
         
 Green Giant T. plicata x T. stanfordii 3-5' 25-30' 10-12' 
         
 Virginian T. plicata x T. stanfordii up to 3' 15' 6'
         
 Emerald Green T. occidentalis 12-15" 12-15' 3-4'

Calocedrus decurrens

on Tuesday, 30 November 2021. Posted in Conifer, Showy Bark/Stems, Native, Drought Tolerant

Incense Cedar

Calocedrus with fruit

If you have room for even one large conifer in your yard, Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) would top our list of recommendations!

Incense Cedars are native to the West coast; ranging all the way from northern Baja California up into central Oregon and western Nevada. Unlike many of the popular conifers frequently planted here in the Rogue Valley, Incense Cedar is heat and drought tolerant, and is tolerant of both clay and serpentine soils.

They get their common name from their wonderfully spicy-smelling, aromatic bark. Plants feature flattened sprays of rich green needles, with a rich reddish-brown bark that becomes deeply furrowed with age.

Calocedrus decurrensYoung trees are dense, symmetrical, and pyramid-shaped which – happily – also makes them an excellent choice for a living Christmas tree.

tanner lakes titanIncense Cedars generally grow at a moderate rate (1-2’/year) and will probably reach a height of 60' - 70' when grown in your yard. Wild trees can get much bigger though. In fact, one of the largest Incense Cedars in the world - the Tanner Lakes Titan - is from right here in Jackson County, and is over 137' tall, with an amazing dbh (diameter at breast height) of 12.8'!

Fun fact: the genus name Calocedrus comes from the Greek words kalos meaning beautiful and cedrus meaning cedar tree!

Rhus 'Gro-Low'

on Monday, 08 November 2021. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Deer Resistant

'Gro-Low' Fragrant Sumac

Rhus Gro Low plant edRhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ is another one of those plants we like to feature here in our Plant of the Week column, because it checks all our boxes: a native plant; deer resistant and drought tolerant once established; a great pollinator plant (functioning as both nectar source and a host plant for butterflies/moths); wildlife-friendly; a good choice for firewise gardens; and is even clay tolerant if planted on a slope or a mound.

As its name suggests, Rhus ‘Gro-Low’ only gets 1 ½’ to 2’ tall, and spreads to 6 to 8’ wide, giving it a nice mounded shape. Plants are fast-growing, with attractive (and fragrant!) glossy green leaves. It grows best in full sun, but will also tolerate a slight bit of afternoon shade.

Small, nondescript creamy-white flowers appear on branch tips in spring. While humans might not be impressed by the flowers, they’re a wonderful source of nectar for pollinators including bees and butterflies. ‘Gro-Low’ is a great plant to use if you are looking to extend the length of the bloom season in your pollinator garden.

Rhus Gro Low2Rhus ‘Gro-Low’ also proves that great fall color doesn’t only come on trees! These shrubs but on quite a show, with leaves turning a variety of shades of fiery orange, mahogany red, and deep burgundy. 

Finally, because of its ability to spread via root suckers and by branches that are able to root down where they touch the soil (like some species of Manzanitas), ‘Gro-Low’ is an especially useful plant for gardeners looking to stabilize a slope or an eroding streambank.  

Acer circinatum

on Sunday, 24 October 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Trees

Vine Maple

Acer circinatum2Graceful beauty, versatility, durability, great fall color: these are just a few of the reasons that Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) is widely considered to be one of the very best native trees for the home landscape here in Oregon.

If you’ve ever hiked along one of the many creeks or rivers in southwest Oregon, chances are you’re already familiar with Vine Maple. They generally grow as an understory tree, but are also able to grow in sunny areas – although they do best with a bit of afternoon shade.

The shape and size of a Vine Maple is frequently dependent upon where it is grown - they can range in height from about 6’ to 20’. Trees grown in sunny areas tend to be upright and fairly compact, while shade-grown trees develop the gorgeous horizontal branching form that gives this tree its common name.

Acer circinatum flowersIn the spring, branch tips are covered with clusters of dangling, delicate-looking red and white flowers that are extremely popular with a wide variety of bees (both native bees and honeybees); followed by slightly rounded, bright green leaves. These leaves are not only lovely to look at – they’re also an important food source for the larvae of the beautiful Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.

Acer circinatum1 cropVine Maple colors up nicely in the fall, with leaf color ranging from golden-yellow to orange to red. Even after the leaves have fallen, the branching structure of Vine Maple provides some nice visual interest in the winter garden. If you’re thinking of incorporating more native trees into your landscape, Vine Maples are a delightful place to start!

Polystichum munitum

on Thursday, 21 October 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Western Sword Fern

Western Sword FernThe sculptural fronds of ferns provide lots of winter interest, and Western Sword Fern is one of the toughest, most drought tolerant, and easiest ferns to grow in the Rogue Valley. 

This native fern can tolerate our dry summers and wet winters and even take a little sun. It prefers to be an understory plant but established ferns in good, composty soil will tolerate quite a bit of sun. The key is to get them well established with deep waterings the first few summers and applications of yearly leaf mulch or compost mulch. Western Sword Fern has a courser texture than some more delicate ferns but that makes their fronds last longer, allowing them to be used in cut flower arrangements. The leathery, dark green fronds can be 2-4' tall depending where they are grown and can be used alone or look especially good in clumps or drifts. 

Polystichum detailWe like to use Western Sword Ferns under large trees - like oaks, combined with Euphorbia purpurea, Heuchera sanguinea or the purple leafed varieties of Coral bells, Mahonia repens, and other dry shade perennials and shrubs. All ferns are deer resistant and the Western Sword Fern is no exception. They are evergreen but will look their best with an annual shearing of the oldest fronds in spring to allow the new fronds to uncurl. Leave the old, pruned fronds as a natural mulch.  Ferns are always interesting to watch throughout the seasons and Western Sword Fern makes an especially nice evergreen specimen in the shade garden.