Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database


Wallace W Hansen Northwest Native Plant Journal
Northwest Native Plant Newsletter and Journal, July 2001


1 – “To Do” List For Native Plants for Summer

2 -- Are You Bold Enough To Go Native?

3 – Native Tiger Lilies – Culture and Propagation

4 – Why Not Collect Native Plant Seed This Year?

5 – Northwest Native Honeysuckles – How Sweet They Are!!

6 -- A Summer Look At Next Spring’s Trilliums

7 -- Personal Notes


Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum)

1 – “To Do” List For Native Plants June – July 2001.

A – Get real serious about collecting native plant seeds. When you move about for pleasure or business, always watch for seeds that are OK for you to collect. Collect, process, label, store, plant, even if the quantity is small.

B – Beware of Root Weevil around heath family natives (Madrone, Huckleberry, Salal, Kinnikinnik, Rhododendron, Azalea). Take immediate action when tell-tale leaf “notches” start to show up.

C – When to break off summer water and fertilizer? A good rule for deciduous plants in the northwest is “No more fertilizer after early July” and “Start reducing water by the end of August.” This encourages your deciduous plants to start preparing for the coming cold season.

2 - Are You Bold Enough To “Go Native?”

I keep asking you kind readers to create your own Wildlife Habitat, using northwest native plants. The July issue of TIME Magazine reinforces this concept in a roundabout way. In an article titled “Say Goodbye To Grass” the magazine claims “More homeowners are going wild and letting the lawn go.” The reason seems to be mostly the conservation of water, which is desirable. But, by using the appropriate natives here in the northwest, you can create a wonderful wildlife habitat which does not need summer water after it is established and which will provide food and shelter for many species of northwest wildlife! Don’t even think about letting your lawn go to weeds – what an ugly thought! A well planned backyard or front yard wildlife habitat can be a work of living art: an arboretum to preserve our wonderful northwest plants: a sanctuary for you, your family and many other critters, large and small! (And save water!)

3 – Native Tiger Lilies – Culture and Propagation

As I write this Newsletter my beds of the native Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum) are in full, glorious bloom – What a sight! They do seem a little smaller this year, but “Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these.” Northwest Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum) are native to Washington, Oregon and northern California. They can be found up to 5000 ft., mostly in moist woodland sites in rich humus soil. The lower leaves are in whorls. The turks-cap flowers are rich orange, with maroon spots. You can grow these from seed. I think Inside Passage in Portt Townsend, Washington has some seed for sale this year – it is a long process. My favorite way is to propagate from bulb scales. After blooming, Tiger Lilies will die back towards the end of July. You can harvest Tiger Lily bulb scales in two ways. Select plants that have no visible disease and that are vigorous and healthy. Simply dig the bulb in early August, clean the bulb and then break off several scales. The scales will easily snap off the basal plate. If you just take 3 or 4 scales, the mother bulb will not be affected. You can also break off nearly all scales, leaving just a central portion (severe action). Dip these scales in a mild fungicide solution (I use “Captan”). Place a handful of pumice or perlite in a 2 gallon plastic bag, with a little water and fungicide powder. Tie the bag and shake thoroughly. Dip the damp scales in powdered fungicide and place inside the bag - shake gently again. Label the bag with date and content and place in a dark spot in a room about 60 – 70 degrees. Start checking the scales after a week and then every few days. When you see a tiny root emerge, remove the scale and plant in a nursery tray filled with a peat moss and perlite mix (plant shallow). Then give light and a weak liquid feed from time to time and grow your lilies! Good Luck. (This method works with most lilies.)

4 – Why Not Collect Native Plant Seed This Year?

Most northwest native plants can be propagated by seed. Some species are easy but some are very difficult. Perennials are easier to grow from seed than shrubs and trees.

First you must find and collect the seeds, of course. Start planning now. You have to make a judgment call as to when the seeds are ripe enough to collect. Too early and they will not germinate. Wait too late and they are spilled on the ground or stolen by other critters. Some plants have seeds in fleshy fruit – Red Elderberries for example. Pick as the fruit become fully ripe and then immediately process the seed. For small quantities, you simply mash the fruit in a plastic bag, wash thoroughly by mixing with water, strain through a fine cheesecloth and then dry the residue in a tray. When thoroughly dry, crumble the residue and then swirl the dry residue in a bowl. The trash will come to the top and can be picked out. You can finish the process by pouring the mix with seeds and trash from one container to another and blowing gently through the cascading mix. With some practice, you can blow out the trash and the clean seeds, which are heavier, will drop straight down. Other seeds, Columbine for example, are dry in pods when ripe. Break open the pods and separate as above by swirling in a bowl to bring the trash up and then air separation. In general, after cleaning the seed, let dry a few days, then store in airtight plastic containers with tight lids. Label well. You might be planting in the late fall, winter or spring and you might go through a complex process to break dormancy, but labels are always needed to avoid confusion. Store the seeds in a cool, dry area (One exception to the above process - Trillium Seeds. Trillium seeds must be planted out at once, with the “jelly” still around the seed – do not dry!)

5 – Northwest Native Honeysuckles – Real Sweethearts!

Three beautiful honeysuckles are found in the northwest – one shrub and two climbing vines. These are very fine plants and should be in every native plant garden. You can grow from seed, buy from me or find another nursery close to you. Let’s get more of these plants established – the population is not great at present.

Lonicera involucrata (Twinberry)

A large, easy to grow deciduous shrub, to 10 ft tall. Large attractive green leaves and beautiful pale yellow flowers, in pairs, Purple, black fruit – twins again! Occurs from sea level to high in the mountains, both sides of the Cascades. This shrub is highly ornamental – easy to grow, fast to grow. Twinberry can be propagated from early spring cuttings.

Lonicera ciliosa (Orange, Trumpet Honeysuckle)

A beautiful native climbing honeysuckle vine that can climb right up a tree or creep along the ground. Can get 20 ft. tall. Large, orange, trumpet shaped flowers and orange-red berries. Don’t eat the berries which may be poisonous. Found on both sides of the Cascades. Grow from seed.

Lonicera hispidula (Pink Honeysuckle)

This very nice honeysuckle likes to creep more than climb. Has hairy branches and pink-purple flowers. Found on West side of the Cascades. Grow from seed.

6 – A Summer Look At Next Spring’s Trilliums

My trilliums have died back for the summer and I have been digging and processing the rhizomes. After blooming and setting seed, the old stem and leaves decay. Beneath the soil, where the stem joins the rhizome, a new “primitive” stem forms and grows about an inch. Growth then stops and the trillium awaits the winter cold. By February, after months of cool and freezing weather, the “dormancy” in the rhizome is broken, and new growth starts in late February. At this time of the year, I store the rhizomes, with the short, white primitive stem, in slightly damp peat moss. The roots will continue to grow all summer in the slightly damp peat moss. Generally, trilliums are planted out in September or October. However, it might be better to plant out in July, thus giving the roots longer to establish.

Trilliums are my lifelong favorite. As a depression kid in Washington State, near the Canadian border, way out in the country, we called Trilliums “Easter Lilies.” I loved those trilliums, along the damp, shady creek bottoms. I picked them for my mother, who always was so thankful! I rediscovered the magic of trilliums 11 years ago, here in Oregon. One day I was exploring a nearby deep gulch with a small stream. Growth was very dense and in late March, between the high conifers and the lower vine maples, my passage was nearly impossible. I struggled under and over and thru the intricate Vine Maples. The dense overhead leaves created a twilight zone. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a flash of white ahead. Curious, I crawled toward this “white” object and suddenly came upon a huge Western Trillium – beautiful, perfect glossy green slightly mottled leaves and stunning white petals. Such a striking, beautiful symbol of spring and beauty and renewal – a composite feeling of all that is good and worthwhile and joyful and eternal.

Most of us consider the large, beautiful, traditional lilies (the ones that smell so sweet) as the traditional Easter Lily. I guess I am different. I associate those lilies with sadness and mourning – funerals. To me, the trillium is the true Easter Lily for those of us in the northwest or even in the northern hemisphere (no trilliums in the southern hemisphere). These have been called the Trinity Lily, of special meaning to those of the Christian faith. But all faiths share in the joy of spring and renewal – the Trillium is a universal symbol.

Great Western Trillium

Trinity Lily, Easter Lily

(Trillium ovatum)


First Flower to break free of Winter’s Grasp!

You awake from winter slumber,

And hint at warmer days to come.

Three leaves, three petals, three sepals!

To those of Christian Faith, The Trinity Lily.

To all Faiths, a sign of Spring renewal -

Of Continuity, Assurance, Spirituality

For brief days, your pure white petals,

Glossy green leaves and delightful form,

Brighten and comfort and awaken -

A world struggling out of winter’s grasp -

Your prim, proper, starched white habits

Of some ancient forest order,

Soon give way to faded pink and red,

And then to vanish, as plump seed pods form,

To ensure new generations yet to come

Of eternal beauty and eternal values.

7 - Personal Notes –

The more I work with native plants and those who like them – grow them – enjoy them, the more I seem to be aware of an increased respect and enjoyment of these plants, here in the northwest – perhaps a native plant renaissance. I am reminded of of Monet’s gardens. He wove his gardens and his paintings into a seamless unity. He used mostly native plants in his gardens. He preferred the simple, single petal rose to the hybrid roses. He seemed to value the simplicity, the virtue, the strength of the wild rose. Your wildlife habitat can also be a Monet style garden palette. And it is not just the flowers – the endless texture, leaf patterns and shades and translucency of GREEN that is also exciting.

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