Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database


Wallace W Hansen Northwest Native Plant Journal
Northwest Native Plant Newsletter and Journal, October - November 2000


  1. "To Do" List For Native Plants for Winter

  2. Pacific Wax Myrtle – A Little Known Native

  3. Native Plant Seeds For Native Plant Gardeners!

  4. Availability of Native Plants in the Northwest This Season! – Many Shortages!

  5. Winter Cuttings of Deciduous Native Shrubs

  6. Best Northwest Native Plants For Fall Color

  7. Get Started With Your Wildlife Habitat This Winter!- Recommended New Reference Book!

  8. Personal Notes – A Touch Of Winter Melancholy?

  9. Next Issue

Pacific Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica)

1– "To Do" List For Native Plants For Fall & Winter 2000

A – Check all your perennials while there are still some leaves. Many native perennials can be divided and Fall is a good time. If you can find separate stems with roots, you can divide off a new plant. Certainly plants such as Oxalis, False Lily-of-the-Valley, False Solomon Seal, Wild Strawberries, Red Columbine, etc, can be easily divided.

B – Mulch new plants now for root protection. Don’t be caught by an early, hard freeze.

C – If some native deciduous shrubs grew too fast and are a bit leggy, you can prune back when the leaves are off. Shrubs should be pruned to force bushiness. If you are going to take winter cuttings from the trim, wait until December. (Be very cautious in pruning young native trees – only to correct some improper shape – never cut the leader!)

D – Get your native bulbs and rhizomes in now. Sometimes it is tricky to hold bulbs in refrigeration. This may break winter dormancy too early and the bulbs and rhizomes will "think" the winter is over and start sprouting!

E – For native plant gardens that are dense and newly planted, be safe from some diseases by raking leaves, pruning off dead branches and burning this trash. Diseases can winter over in damaged plant material. Better use sawdust (hardwood), bark dust, etc. as mulch.

F – Plant trees this fall and winter. You do not have to wait until Spring. Fall plants are great – plantings of bareroot native plans in Jan, Feb and March are OK as long as you can work the soil. Native Plant Gardening is a 12 month "hobby" (obsession??).

2 – Myrica californica - Pacific Wax Myrtle – A Little Known Native

An outstanding evergreen shrub or small tree, native to coastal areas, from Washington to California. Thrives in salt air on the coast but does great inland also. Perfect for most native gardens. Dense and bushy, usually to 15 ft. but can get to 30 ft., round crown, width to 8 ft. plus. Clean glossy green leaves throughout the year. Small flowers - purple nutlet fruits attractive to birds. Early pioneers rendered candle wax from the fruit. Tolerates poor soil. Sun or shade. Wax Myrtle is very tolerant of shade – such a versatile evergreen! Use generously as a specimen or for hedges. You can grow from seed – remove wax first with a mild solvent. I recommend cold moist stratification in your refrigerator at about 34 degrees F for 60 – 90 days.

3 – Native Plant Seeds For Native Plant Gardeners!

Collect seeds of the four species below.

Sambucus mexicana (Blue Elderberry) - Fine ornamental – Pioneers used for pies and wine. Sow seeds immediately or keep in refrigerator (cold moist stratification) until Spring and then sow.

Cornus sericea ssp. stolonifera (Red Osier Dogwood) - Fast growing ornamental shrub. Best to plant seed immediately in the Fall.

Rosa nutkana (Nootka Rose) - Beautiful native rose – wonderful hedges, etc. Plant immediately in the Fall. Alternately, cold moist stratification for 90 days at 34 degrees F.

Mahonia nervosa (Cascade (Long Leaf) Oregon Grape) - Beautiful Ground Cover – partial to full shade. Plant immediately in the Fall.

4 – Availability of Native Plants in The Northwest This Season! – Many Shortages!

The demand for Native Plants was very strong in 1999 and is continuing in this Fall 2000 – Spring 2001 period. Big nurseries that grow Reforestation and Christmas Tree plants are mostly sold out. Of course, there has been a severe shortage of Noble Fir seed for several years. Some nurseries did not even bother to print catalogs this year. Regular customers bought everything available. There is a very strong market for plants used in northwest restoration projects, many driven by government requirements. This includes wetland plants such as Sedge, Rush, Cattails, Wapato, etc. The demand for Western Red Cedar is very heavy – mostly sold out.

5 – Winter Cuttings of Deciduous Native Shrubs

Why not experiment this winter with native plant winter cuttings? It does not take too much time and you will learn by doing. After the first hard frost, take your cuttings, usually about 6 inches and pencil thin. Keep damp and dip in rooting compound. We want to form a callus at the root end of the cutting. Tie the cuttings in bundles, wrapped in plastic (except the bottoms with the rooting hormone dip) and store vertically in a large plastic box with damp peat moss in the bottom. Bury the closed box into the ground with about six inches of soil over the top. Get these in before Christmas. Then you must start peeking in early Feb. When a callus forms on the bottom of the cutting and the new buds are swelling, remove from underground and stick in flats. The cuttings need light and some warmth and some moisture. When roots form, starting feeding the new plant with liquid fertilizer. You must grow strong roots before planting out in pots or open garden. This is more an art than science so be patient, use your gardener’s sixth sense and keep trying.

6 – Best Northwest Native Plants For Fall Color

This time of the year, we all are delighted at the annual free show of Nature – brilliant colors of Fall leaves. Here are my recommendations, by leaf color, for Natives Plants for Fall Color (not in priority order).

Yellow Colors

Acer glabrum (Douglas Maple)

Betula papyrifera (Paper Birch)

Larix occidentalis (Western Larch)

Philadelphus lewisii (Mock Orange)

Populus tremuloides (Quaking Aspen)

Purple, Red, Pink Colors

Cornus (Dogwoods)

Vaccinium (Huckleberries)


Acer macrophyllum (Big Leaf Maple)

Orange, Yellow, Red, Purple

Acer circinatum (Vine Maple)

Amelanchier alnifolia (Service Berry, Saskatoon Berry)

Crataegus douglasii (Black Hawthorne)

Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry)

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American Cranberry Bush)

7 – Get Started With Your Wildlife Habitat This Winter! Recommended New Reference Book!

A wonderful new book is out called "Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest" by Russell Link. This is published by the University of Washington Press in association with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. I ordered it through the local Borders Bookstore ($29). This is a 320 page illustrated book, filled with vital information for you Native Plant Lovers. (I see that I am in a list of Native Plant Nurseries!). Well written topics include Wildlife habitat and landscaping basics; Specialty gardens for butterflies and hummingbirds; How to plant and maintain woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, and waterways; and most important, extensive plant lists and recommendations. This is useful to you, even if your "Wildlife Habitat" is only 10 ft square in the middle of a town!

Be nice to yourself this year – get this book – study it – work it!

8 - Personal Notes – A Touch Of Winter Melancholy?

Again the earth spins out another cycle around the sun and we in the northern hemisphere are tilting into another winter! The fierce Gods of the North are restless again and will soon descend with storm and wind and ice to let us mortals know there is a time for everything – a time to plant and a time to reap, a time to put down and a time to pick up –a time for joy and a time for mourning. We do not really understand this amazing life in which we find ourselves – part of a magnificent creative process everywhere with its eternal cycles. I puzzle often about all this, struggling to understand - finding comfort in my own beliefs and limited understanding – peering through a dark glass. And always, turning to my gardens – to the miracles of all forms of life – of the knowledge that spring always follows winter. Even on a dreary winter day, if you search you will find the plump bud on the maple tree, all ready and optimistic that the light and warmth will come, as always.

A garden is a source of strength and renewal – if you have a touch of winter melancholy, walk in your garden – work in your garden, even in the snow! The day after the shortest day of the year in December, the earth circles back towards spring and light and warmth! Keep the faith, you plant lovers – you have something going for you that many do not have!

9 – Next Issue

Topics planned include:

A - Getting a Head Start On Spring

B - Soil Renovation and Fertilizers

C - Beautiful Northwest Pines

D - And Much More!

E - And much more!

E-mail comments are welcome. (Note from Jennifer: As did Wally, I also welcome your email comments!)

Good Luck!


Contact:  star@chillirose.com ~ Copyright 2011 © Wallace W. Hansen ~ All rights reserved