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What Plants Grow Best in the Pacific Northwest

  |  Cannon Beach, Central Oregon, Hood River, Neighborhood Insight, Portland, Southwest Washington, Your Place

If you’ve gardened here in the Pacific Northwest, you should know how lucky you are. The PNW is considered a very forgiving region for gardening, due to its moderate climate and overall abundance of moisture.

In fact, there are very few plants you cannot plant in the Pacific Northwest. But let’s take a look at some of the best plants, both edible and nonedible, to plant in your garden. Some are native, some are not, and all thrive in the favorable conditions of this region.

Pro Tip: Use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, to find out the zone for your specific zip code. This is the standard tool used by gardeners and growers to determine which plants will thrive where. The tags found on plants at the nursery will typically specify what zone they will thrive in.

 

Edible Plants:

Carrots

Carrots

Ideal for planting in late March or early April, carrots prefer loose and fine soil so they can grow long, feathery roots. Plant carrot seeds in an area with full or part sun exposure, about a half-inch deep in rows about a foot apart.

 

Lettuce

Lettuce can be grown and harvested all year long, yet it needs some shade during the hot summer months. Alternate through a variety of types of lettuce, like heat-resistant varieties during the warmer months and winter lettuce during the colder months. Plant seedlings directly in the ground between April and October — or indoors all year long!

 

 

Garlic

Plant garlic cloves between September and November for larger heads or February to March for smaller heads. Separate cloves before planting (without peeling) and plant them root-side down about 1-2 inches deep. Garlic likes full sun exposure with moist soil during the beginning stage and drier soil as its leaves begin to turn brown.

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes thrive in large pots and prefer warm temperatures. You can plant seeds as early as late April but watch out for temperatures dropping under 55 degrees; it may be best to wait until late May for the best results. Keep the soil consistently moist, making sure you don’t over- or under-water your tomatoes.

 

Onion

Grow onions year-round, either in bunches, a direct sow, transplant seedlings, or sets (small starter bulbs). They prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Refer to specific instructions for each method of growth.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli does well in cooler temperatures and full sun, in an area that has not grown other members of the brassica family, including cabbage, kale, arugula and others, in the past year. It is recommended to plant broccoli transplants rather than seeds.

 

Blueberries

Blueberries

Plant a blueberry bush in a sunny area with well-drained soil, so their roots can stay wet all season long. It is typically best to plant blueberries during the fall or spring, and you will most likely yield fruit the second year, as it takes time for the plant to get established. Be sure to prune the plant each year.

 

Beets

Beets do well when grown from seeds, as with other root crops. They prefer full sun so their roots can grow deep, and they do well in evenly moist soil.

 

Strawberries

Plant new strawberry plants in early spring for the best results. Prepare the area with well-drained, reasonably fertile soil, and choose a location with plenty of sunlight. Strawberries come in three types: June-Bearers, Everbearers and Day-Neutrals. 

 

Nonedible Plants:

Sword Fern

Fern

There are few plants more quintessential to the Pacific Northwest than the sword fern! You’ll find this hardy plant in the shade with good drainage, where they can reach up to 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

 

Lupine

This tall and skinny beauty is perfect for lining along the back edge of a garden bed, as they can reach up to 4 feet tall. The flowers look almost like sweet peas and can come in a variety of colors, including deep blue, purple, yellow, pink and white.

 

Oregon Grape Holly

Use the tall, lush Oregon Grape Holly shrub as a hedge on your property or a stand-alone accent. This evergreen flowering shrub grows bright yellow flowers in the spring and deep blue berries during the fall, offering wonderful variety all year long.

 

 

Roses

Roses

With the City of Roses in its midst, the Pacific Northwest is an ideal place to plant roses, one of the most diverse and fragrant flowers. Select from a wide range of colors and sizes and plant roses in full sun or an area with partial shade, and watch these stunning buds bloom multiple times throughout the year.

 

Hinoki Cypress

Another quintessential plant in the PNW, the Hinoki cypress is a tall, evergreen coniferous tree originally hailing from Southern Japan. It grows well here because it prefers moist, fertile soil and full sun exposure or part shade. Plant a Hinoki cypress sapling or seeds with enough room for it to reach full maturity, which could be up to 30 feet wide.

 

Dahlias

This low-maintenance flower offers brilliant color all summer long. Plant them during the spring in well-drained soil in an area with full sun. Avoid watering right after planting and during the spring, but water heavily during the summer when the soil dries up!

 

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

These cheerful cotton candy-esque flowers are an excellent addition to any garden in the PNW, especially since they prefer partial shade, which we have plenty of here! Plant a hydrangea bush in late spring before the heat of summer begins. They can grow strong all the way through September!

 

Japanese Maples

Add some brilliant fall color to your yard by investing in a Japanese Maple. You may not realize that so many varieties exist, with several in three main categories: upright, dwarf and weeping. Full-sized trees can reach up to 25 feet tall, so make sure you have plenty of room to accommodate a Japanese Maple.

 

 

Rhododendrons

If planted in the right location and soil, rhododendrons can be pretty low-maintenance flowers. This gorgeous, cheery plant prefers acidic soil and full sun or partial shade. Rhododendrons come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, orange, red, or sometimes a combination of the above.

 

Happy Planting!

What plants are thriving in your garden? Let us know in the comments below!

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About the Author

Melissa Peterson, Director of Agent Services and Technology

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