Native Plants for the Central Oregon Garden

Which native plants belong in a Central Oregon Garden?

Good question! As the days grow warmer and longer here in Central Oregon it is time to think about what should go in the garden this summer. In recent years, many have turned to plants native to give their home a sense of place. 

Aside from being beautiful, native plants are well adapted to our soils and climate if planted in suitable habitats. As Amy Jo Detweiler, the community horticulturist for OSU Extension in Central Oregon, discusses, this reduces the need for supplemental water and maintenance and makes it easier to maintain plant health throughout the coming hot months. Native plants also create the best environments for local pollinators and wildlife, so grab your camera or the binoculars and get comfy on your porch!

Native Plants for the Central Oregonian’s Garden

sage brush


Sage Brush Shrub

This one is a classic around these parts. Sage is an evergreen shrub with strongly aromatic leaves. It is an essential plant of the high desert and an absolute must in your garden! These plants are hardy enough to withstand anything that this climate can throw at them and has so many in home applications.

Preferred Growing Conditions: Full Sun, Drought Tolerant 

Matured Size: 3–6 ft

Oregon Sunshine

Oregon Sunshine

Oregon Sunshine Wildflower

Some patients may be required for these flowers. With that said, the bright yellow blooms received in return are certainly worth the time. The Oregon Sunshine is a perennial with clumping growth form of grayish-green leaves. Common in dry open habitats, this flower is the perfect opportunity to add a pop of color to your garden that will keep the pollinators– and you happy!

Preferred Growing Conditions: Full Sun, Drought Tolerant 

Matured Size: 12–18 in


Rocky Mountain Penstemon Wildflower

The Rocky Mountain Penstemon is one of the longest-lived and most easily grown of the Penstemon family. This flower is a semi-evergreen perennial with tall stems and stocks of flowers in deep blues and violets. A particular favorite to bumblebees, this flower is a real show stopper that is sure to catch anyone’s eye! 

Preferred Growing Conditions: Full Sun, Drought Tolerant

Matured Size: 24–36 in


Purple Sage Brush Shrub

A Central Oregonian’s garden is not complete without multiple types of sage brush. Similar to the aforementioned sage this is a much smaller member of the brush family. A woody shrub with silvery gray leaves Purple Sage is a semi-evergreen that comes complete with the aromatic foliage AND abundant blooms which makes this version a much more dramatic addition to any garden.

Preferred Growing Conditions: Full Sun, Drought Tolerant

Matured Size: 12–36 in


Yellow Desert Daisy Wildflower

This cute little flower is not troubled by heat, cold, drought or wind. A unique feature of this plant is that it is a tap-rooted, clumping perennial with multiple yellow, aster-like flowers. This flower thrives in dry, rocky sites — often near sagebrush — making it the perfect companion to any garden this season!

Preferred Growing Conditions: Full Sun, Drought Tolerant

Matured Size: >8 in


Basin Wildrye Grass

Basin Wildrye is by far one of the larger plants on this list, and provides many fantastic additions to a desert garden. It is a robust, cool-season, perennial bunchgrass. It is a long-lived import that has been used for years in Central Oregon to provide cover for birds and wildlife. Additionally, this grass makes an excellent soil stabilizer. If you’re looking for an easy way to give your garden some height this is the perfect plant for you!

Preferred Growing Conditions: Sun/Partial Shade, Moderate Moisture

Matured Size: 3–6 ft

Want more details? Visit Clear Water Native Plant Nursery for a more complete list of Central Oregon Native Plants.

If you’re looking to take your gardening skills above and beyond this season, OSU provides annual Master Gardener training in the tri-county area for those interested in a great volunteer opportunity and to expand their knowledge of Centeral Oregon’s beautiful foliage.

Shelby Little

Shelby Little

Shelby Little is a local writer, maker, mother and business owner who relocated to Central Oregon from Virginia in 2012. When she’s not blogging, she’s vlogging or playing in the parks with her family.

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