Tips from a Master Gardener on growing native plants

Interested in xeric gardening or gardening with native plants? Susan Peterson, a WSU Master Gardener who manages the Natives N’ More garden at the Community Education Garden in Wenatchee, shared some tips about how to start a home garden and what plants to choose.

1. Before starting your garden, do some planning. Ask yourself what you like. Flowers? Vegetables? A natural landscape? Shade? Make a file or digital folder for your garden and collect photos and clippings of ideas and colors you like. Some of the plants you like won’t work for the climate you’re in, but you can use the characteristics of those plants to search for ones that will.

2. Evaluate the site you’re working with to determine what will work best. Depending on where in the Wenatchee area you live, your garden might have lots of sand, rocks, heavy clay or sun exposure. You can also test your soil to know what you’re working with.

3. Once you have gathered ideas and learned more about your site, design your landscape. “It’s like designing a house,” Susan said. Think about where you want to walk, what your lifestyle and space demand, and how much time you can devote to your garden.

For inspiration for gardens with native plants, go to the Riverfront Park Xeriscape Garden off of the Apple Capital Loop Trail near the Nile Saunders Steam Train depot, where there are lots of examples of plants that aren’t fussy. Check out the Washington Native Plants Society for ideas and visit the Community Education Garden for extensive examples of firewise, xeric and deer-resistant plants.

Plants to check out for the Wenatchee area:

For some foolproof plants, look up dryland shrubs, perennials and grasses.

Echinacea and coneflower aren’t native, but are great perennials for the area.

Native plants: Penstemon come in vivid colors and are good for hummingbirds. Salvias are in a variety of colors.

Trees: western red cedar, Colorado blue spruce, western yew, big leaf maple, western flowering dogwood, paper birch.

Bushes/shrubs: Kinnikinnik is native ground cover with bright red berries in fall. Oregon grape is extremely easy to grow. Pacific rhododendron is good for shady spots. Serviceberry is native with a beautiful flower. Red ochre dogwood has all season interest. Spirea is in a variety of colors.

Flowers: Bleeding hearts, bunchberries, iris, asters, ferns for shady spots.

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Greta Forslund: (509) 665-1187