Selecting Native Plants for Home Landscapes in Central Oregon

Amy Jo Detweiler
EC 1623 | May 2008 |
blue flax flower

Growing native plants can be rewarding in many ways. They add beauty with colorful flowers, foliage, texture, and scents. If planted in a suitable habitat, native plants are well adapted to our soils and climate. This reduces the need for supplemental water (once established) and maintenance, and makes it easy to maintain plant health.

When grown in the right conditions, native plants typically experience less environmental, insect, and disease damage than nonnative plants. Native plants also create the best environments for local pollinators and wildlife. They tend to be minimally invasive when planted in the right environment.

The lists of trees, shrubs, grasses, and perennials in this publication focus on native plants that are readily available from local nurseries and adapt easily to an urban landscape environment (Figures 1 and 2). These are not complete lists of Central Oregon native plants.

When selecting native plants, choose plants whose natural habitat is similar to conditions in your landscape. For example, select plants native to riparian areas for a wet area of the landscape, or choose dryland plants for your rock garden. The information in the lists regarding preferred growing conditions and size refers to landscape conditions, not to plants growing in the wild.

Table 1. Native plants that are available from local nurseries and adapt easily to an urban landscape environment

These are not complete lists of Central Oregon native plants.

Common name Botanical name Preferred growing conditions Mature height
Deciduous trees
Alder, Mountain Alnus tenuifolia sun/moist 10 ft
Alder, White Alnus rhombifolia sun to part shade/moist 50 - 60 ft
Aspen, Quaking Populus tremuloides sun/ moist or dry 30 - 40 ft
Cherry, Bitter Prunus emarginata sun to part shade/ moist to dry 20 - 50 ft
Cottonwood, Black Populus trichocarpa sun/moist 100+ ft
Hawthorn, Black Crataegus douglasii sun/ moist 10 - 30 ft
Conifers
Douglas-Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii sun/moist 40 - 80 ft
Fir, Grand Abies grandis sun to part shade/ moist 100+ ft
Fir, Noble Abies procera sun to part shade/moist 50 - 100 ft
Fir, Pacific Silver Abies amabilis sun to shade/ moist 50 - 80 ft
Fir, Subalpine Abies lasiocarpa sun/dry 30 - 50 ft
Hemlock, Mountain Tsuga mertensiana sun to part shade/ moist 30+ ft
Juniper, Western or Sierra Juniperus occidentalis sun/dry 15 - 30+ ft
Larch, Western Larix occidentalis sun/ moist to moderate 100+ ft
Pine, Lodgepole Pinus contorta latifolia, narrow upright form sun to part shade/dry 50 - 70 ft
Pine, Murrayana Pinus contorta murrayana, bonsai or sparse form sun/dry 40 - 60 ft
Pine, Ponderosa Pinus ponderosa sun/dry 50 - 60 ft
Spruce, Engelmann Picea englemannii sun to part shade/moist 80 - 100 ft
Deciduous shrubs
Ash, Sitka Mountain Sorbus sitchensis sun to light shade/moist to dry 10 - 20 ft
Birch, Water Betula occidentalis sun/moist to dry 15 - 30 ft
Bitterbrush Purshia tridentata sun/dry 3 - 4 ft
Chokecherry Prunus virginiana sun to part shade/moist to dry 15 - 30 ft
Currant, Golden Ribes aureum sun to shade/dry 6 - 8 ft
Currant, Wax Ribes cereum sun/dry 4 - 6 ft
Desert Sweet Chamaebatiaria millefolium sun/dry 3 - 6 ft
Dogwood, Redoiser Cornus sericea ssp. occidentalis sun to part shade/ moist 7 - 9 ft
Elderberry, Blue Sambucus mexicana sun/moist 15 - 30 ft
Elderberry, Red Sambucus racemosa sun to part shade/moist 6 - 20 ft
Maple, Rocky Mountain Acer glabrum sun to part shade/ moist or dry 10 - 20 ft
Maple, Vine Acer circinatum shade to part sun/moist 10 - 20 ft
Mockorange Philadelphus lewisii sun to part shade/ moist to dry 5 - 10 ft
Oceanspray Holodiscus discolor part shade/ moderate 10 - 15 ft
Rabbitbrush, Gray Ericameria nauseosus sun/dry 2 - 6 ft
Rabbitbrush, Low Green Ericameria viscidiflorus lanceolatus sun/dry 1 - 4 ft
Rose, Wood's Rosa woodsii part shade to sun/moderate 3 - 6 ft
Serviceberry Amelanchier alnifolia sun to part shade/moderate 8 - 12 ft
Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus sun to part shade/ moderate 4 - 6 ft
Spirea, Douglas Spiraea douglasii sun/ moist 3 - 7 ft
Willow species Salix spp. sun/moist varied
Evergreen shrubs - Groundcovers (1-12'') denoted by (G)
Backbrush Ceanothus velutinus part shade to sun/ dry 2 - 10 ft
Boxwood, Oregon Paxistima myrsinites sun to part shade/moist 1 - 3 ft
Kinnickinnick (G) Arctostaphylos uva-ursi sun/dry 4 - 8 in
Mahonia Creeping Mahonia (Berberis)) repens part shade to sun/moderate 12 - 18 in
Manzanita, Greenleaf Arctostaphylos patula sun to part shade/dry 4 - 6 ft
Manzanita, Pinemat Arctostaphylos nevadensis sun to part shade/dry 12 - 20 in
Mountain Mahogany, Curl-Leaf Cercocarpus ledifolium sun/dry 10 - 15 ft
Oregon Grape Mahonia (Berberis) aquifolium part shade to sun/moderate 3 - 10 ft
Purple Sage Salvia dorrii sun/dry 16 - 18 in
Sagebrush, Big Artemisia tridentata sun/dry 3 - 6 ft
Grasses
Bluebunch Wheatgrass Pseudoroegneria spicata sun/dry 2 - 3 ft
Great Basin Wild Rye Leymus cinereus sun/moist to moderate 3 - 4 ft
Idaho Fescue Festuca idahoensis sun/dry 12 in
Indian Rice Grass Achnatherum hymenoides sun/dry 2 - 3 ft
Prairie Junegrass Koeleria macrantha sun to part shade/dry 1 - 2 ft
Sandberg's Bluegrass Poa sandbergii sun/dry 4 - 12 in
Tufted Hair Grass Deschampsia caespitosa sun/moist 1 - 3 ft
Perennials
Alumroot Heuchera cylindrica sun to part shade/moderate 12 - 18 in
Arrowleaf Balsamroot Balsamorhiza sagittata sun/dry 8 - 30 in
Aster, Long-leaved Aster chilensis sun/ dry to moderate 1 - 2 ft
Bleeding Heart Dicentra formosa shade/ moist 1 - 1.5 ft
Blue-eyed Grass Sisyrinchium idahoense shade to part sun/moist 20 - 24 in
Buckwheat, Creamy Eriogonum heracleoides sun/dry 6 - 14 in
Buckwheat Sulphur Eriogonum umbellatum sun to light shade/dry 6 - 12 in
Columbine, Western Aquilegia formosa part shade to sun/moist 2 ft
Flax, Blue Linum lewisii sun/dry to moderate 2 ft
Fleabane, Showy Erigeron speciosus sun to shade/dry 10 - 12 in
Geranium, Sticky Geranium viscosissimum sun/dry 10 - 24 in
Gilia, Scarlet Ipomopsis aggregata sun/dry 24 - 30 in
Globemallow, Scarlet Sphaeralcea coccinea sun/dry 6 - 12 in
Hollyhock, Mountain Iliamna rivularis sun/dry or moist 2 - 3 ft
Indian Blanket Flower Gaillardia aristata sun/dry to moderate 24 - 30 in
Lily, Sand Leucocrinum montanum sun/dry 3 - 4 ft
Lupine, Sicklekeel Lupinus albicaulis sun to part shade/ dry 1 - 2 ft
Lupine, Silvery Lupinus argenteus sun to part shade/dry 2 - 3 ft
Monkey Flower, Dwarf Purple Mimulus nanus sun/dry 2 - 3 in
Monkey Flower, Purple Mimulus lewisii sun to part shade/moderate 1 - 3 ft
Monkey Flower, Yellow Mimulus guttatus sun to part shade/ moderate 20 - 24 in
Oregon Sunshine Eriophyllum lanatum sun/dry 8 - 12 in
Penstemon, Davidson’s Penstemon davidsonii sun to part shade/dry 4 - 8 ft
Penstemon, Lowly Penstemon humilis sun/dry 8 - 12 in
Penstemon, Cutleaf Penstemon richardsonii sun/dry 1-2 ft
Penstemon, Showy Penstemon speciosus sun to part shade/dry 1 - 2 ft
Penstemon, Shrubby Penstemon frutiosus sun to part shade/dry 12 - 16 in
Phlox, Spreading Phlox diffusa full sun/dry 2 - 4 in
Rosy Pussytoes Antennaria microphylla sun/dry 4 - 8 in
Strawberry, Chilean Fragaria chiloensis sun to part shade/dry 10 - 12 in
Strawberry, Wood's Fragaria vesca bracteata shade/moist 10 - 12 in

Resources for finding native plants for your landscape

Detweiler, A.J. 2006. Central Oregon’s Plant Resource Guide

Oregon Association of Nurseries Directory and Buyers Guide

For more information

Detweiler, A.J. 2017. Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon, EM 9136

Dirr, M.A. 1988. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses, 5th ed., rev. Stipes Publishing, Champaign IL.

Hopkins, W.E. and R.C. Rawlings. 1988. Major Indicator Shrubs and Herbs on National Forests of Eastern Oregon. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.

Jensen, E.C. and C.R. Ross. 2005. Trees to Know in Oregon. Oregon State University Extension Service publication EC 1450, Corvallis, OR.

Kovalchik, B.L., W. Hopkins, and S. Brunsfeld. 1988. Major Indicator Shrubs and Herbs in Riparian Zones on National Forests of Central Oregon. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.

Kruckeberg, A.R. 1992. Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest, 2nd ed. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.

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