Pacific Northwest Must-Have Plants

Some excellent plants to grow in your outdoor home garden

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

West of the Cascades we in the PNW enjoy an amazing combination of maritime and rainforest climates. What does that mean? Lots of rainfall and mild winters which translates into easy growth. Hence the massive trees and lush green landscapes. All this greenery provides not only amazing phot-ops but homes to plenty of wildlife. I love seeing the rabbits and deer graze across my lawn but not so much my flowerbeds. Another thing I struggle with is just gardening in general. I’m not very hands-on. So here is a list of easy to grow but wildlife resistant plants that are perfect for any PNW garden.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema

What else could possibly be first? It’s Washington’s state flower. It comes in a variety of colors and can grow as big or small as you desire. It seems to do well either in shade or sunny spots. They bloom in the spring. You really cannot go wrong with a rhodie. 


Photo by Annie Spratt

As gorgeous as a rose but not palatable to the wildlife. These plants bloom around March thru May depending on your microclimate. In between bloom times they provide a lush green foliage that can be shaped into a bush, a hedge or a tree. It truly is versatile and a beautiful addition to any garden.

Box Bush

This dark-foliaged-plant is remarkable in that it will bloom in the late winter before crocuses are coming up. The small white flowers are highly fragrant and the berries are non-toxic to pets and children. Birds love them. This is a perfect addition for any bird watchers or where a slowing growing hedge is wanted.


Photo by Aaron Burden

Highly fragrant with long blooms and therapeutic properties, this is a plant worth growing. It does best in a sunny spot with lots of drainage.


Photo by Sei Kakinoki

The acidic soil here turns the mid-late summer blooms a dark bold blue. The blooms cluster together in natural bouquets that are stunning to behold. They grow easily in shaded areas. Freshly cut hydrangeas will be a welcome sight to any table. If you like the pinker blooms add more alkaline to the soil. You can achieve this with garden lime.

California Poppies

Photo by Mickey Dziwulski

These often fire orange blooms offer a daring counterpoint to any garden. They are lower growing than the aforementioned shrubs and have pale green leaves and stems. They can create variety and texture in any flower bed. They do well in drought or in rain but usually close their blooms during a rainy day. Nevertheless they are easy to grow and beautiful on the side of the highway or in cottage garden.

There are many other flowers and shrubs that do especially well against the fauna of the PNW but this is a great list to get you started on an easy yet beautiful garden.

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