4 Best Native Perennials for the PNW That’s Easy to Grow — and Edible

4 Best Native Perennials for the PNW That’s Easy to Grow — and Edible

Any time you’re looking for a new plant to fill a spot in your landscape, you should go through a series of criteria to make sure you’re putting the right plant in the right place. The most important are the plant’s overall suitability to our climate, soil type preferences and sunlight exposure needs. If you’re like me, the last important consideration is “Can I eat it?”

If you want plants that easily fit these success criteria, look no further than native perennials. Natives are a great choice for the garden because they are well suited to our environment, which is our first priority. Soil types can be wide-ranging, but natives generally can adapt to even the most challenging soil conditions in your garden. Many natives grow best in partial or full shade, which can be one of the most difficult parts of landscape design. Checks.

The Pacific Northwest is blessed with a surprising number of beautiful native plants that also happen to be edible. In this regard, we are very lucky indeed, because we can fill our yards with attractive plants that need little care, thrive in shade and can be eaten as a snack. Here are some favorites to include in any landscaping plan:

Berries are evergreen (Eggplant berries): Imagine a broadleaf evergreen shrub that grows up to 6 feet tall in full shade, looks great all year round, requires almost no maintenance and produces fruit that tastes better than blueberries. This is an evergreen berry. You can use them in mixed plantings under conifers or group them together to create a hedge or thick substrate. Evergreen cranberries are one of my favorite plants. The only thing to pay attention to is giving them plenty of sun. If planted in part sun, it will likely remain small and stunted, so give it a shady spot.

Salal (Galleria Chalon): Salal is a broad-leaved evergreen plant that is highly adaptable. It can grow in deep shade, partial shade or sun. It can live in wet or dry soil, or in crevices of rocks. In extreme conditions, salal grows more like a ground cover, reaching only 1 foot in height. In the most ideal conditions, it can grow up to 5 feet tall, but more often than not, it grows to about 2 to 3 feet tall. I love salal because, like cranberries, it looks great every day of the year. The fruit is plentiful and delicious, and can be a great yard foraging project for kids.

Salmonberry (Amazing shrub): If you want part of your garden to look really natural, plant salmon. Its tall, woody stems are a distinctive feature of the forests of the Pacific Northwest. They prefer moist soil but are very easy to grow and tolerate a wide range of sun conditions. Plantings that include cranberries, raspberries, and salmonberries provide a range of heights, textures, and colors. These plants attract butterflies, birds, and humans to the garden in search of a snack.

Wild ginger (Eagle tail): Perhaps one of the most fun native edible plants to grow, ginger is just a little trickier than the rest of the plants on this list. It refuses to grow unless full shade and moist soil are provided. However, once established, they make a beautiful, low-growing, glossy ground cover. The roots are edible, and apparently very good for you. However, even if you never get to harvest this crop, these plants are essential to any dark, damp corner of your landscape.

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