Photo: Land Trust.

Tips + Tricks for Caring for Native Plants

Oct 14, 2020 by Jana Hemphill
Did you know that fall is a great time for planting wildflowers in Central Oregon? Read up on our tips for caring for native plants, then grab your shovel and get your garden ready!

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Did you know that fall is a great time for planting wildflowers in Central Oregon?!? When you plant in the fall, the plants or seeds will go dormant for the winter, then emerge in the spring with the rain. Here are a few of our tips and tricks for planting and caring for native plants in Central Oregon:

Get your timing right. When planting in the fall, you want to make sure to get your timing right. If you are sticking plants in the ground, go ahead and get them in now! They might look sad and brown, but they will re-emerge looking great in the spring! If you have seeds, you'll want to plant them later in the fall so they don't germinate before winter. Typically, sometime in early November works well in Central Oregon.

Amend your soil. Improving the quality of your garden soil, also known as amending, is the first step once you’ve determined where you want to plant. Healthy soil provides nutrients to plants and holds moisture better. Use organic material like compost or aged manure to amend your soil. Simply mix it into the soil that’s already there.

Don't forget to water your plants! Photo: Land Trust.
Don't forget to water your plants! Photo: Land Trust.
Plant in a sunny spot in your garden. Most native plants love the sun! It doesn't have to be full sun, but your plant will be happiest if it has a decent amount of sun (4-8 hours every day, depending on strength of the sun). If you use container pots, you can move them around and try different spots to see what your plants like the best!

Give your plants space in your garden. Little plants don’t like competition from other plants when they’re starting out. You'll also want to make sure the soil around your plant start is free of leaves and sticks to help the soil warm up.

Continue regular watering of your plants in the spring. Your native plants will continue to need regular watering in order to establish their roots. Make sure to water early in the morning or late at night, instead of during the heat of the day. You’ll also need to be patient, as native plants can take 2-3 years to get established or to even bloom! Once their roots are established, they won't need as much water and will be perfectly happy with our Central Oregon climate.

Watch out for spreading rhizomes! Some native plants like milkweed grow and spread underground via its rhizomes. If you'd like to control the spread of your milkweed or other rhizome-sprouting plants, consider planting in a raised bed or in plant containers. They generally won't start spreading extensively until year 3 or 4 (and only if they're super happy), but be careful!


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