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Inland Northwest Native Plant Guide

Updated: Jan 12

One of the most impactful ways you can care for the earth is by planting native plants in your landscape. Check out this Dryland Revival Native Plant Guide to learn about native plants, how to grow them, as well as some of our favorite picks for the garden.

landscape in spokane washingtion with native plants

Spokane locals are all too familiar with the long, gray winters of this region.

Between the slush and towering snow berms, it can seem like winter will never end, but fear not! As soon as April arrives, hope springs up along the river in the form of waving stems of sunshine: arrowleaf balsamroot.

Their warm swaths of yellow remind us all that, yes, winter will end, and yes, spring has come again.

Arrowleaf balsamroot is one of our favorite native plants that we regularly use in our client’s regenerative landscape designs.

Native and indigenous plants play an integral role in the ebb and flow of the Inland Northwest region.

While arrowleaf balsamroot is Spokane’s signature springtime heartthrob, there are a wide variety of other less-oft-discussed plants such as tufted phlox, wild onions, camas, and shrubby penstemons which unashamedly put on equally astounding shows in meadows less visited by flora tourists.

Our region’s native and indigenous plants mark spring’s beginning, thrive in the summer, wave in the fall, and persist through winter.


What is a Native Plant?

According to the National Wildlife Federation, “a plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction,” 1.

non-native vs native plants
(Source: The National Wildlife Federation, 1)

Native plants require very little input, as the plants have naturally survived in local soil and climate.

Their roots grow deep, serving as excellent erosion control and fire prevention. Some nine-bark (Physocarpus opulifolius) varieties grow taproots up to 16 feet long!

Additionally, native plants are beacons for pollinators, boasting an array of colors and fragrances throughout the year.


Our Favorite Native Plants

At Dryland Revival, our love and reverence for native plants run deep.

In an effort to revitalize the land, encourage water-wise practices, and showcase the native beauty of our region, our designs feature native plants almost exclusively.


Showy Milkweed

(Asclepias speciosa)

photo of showy milkweed flowers

Showy Milkweed Advantages:

  • Bee Friendly

  • Easy To Grow

  • Low Maintenance

  • Plants For Small Spaces

  • Good Rock Garden Or Alpine Plant

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Water Requirements: Xeric (low water)

Bloom Time: Mid-to-late Summer

Life Cycle: Perennial

(2, Stevens, Michelle. “Showy Milkweed Plant Guide - USDA Plants Database.”)



Munroe’s Globemallow

(Sphaeralcea munroana)

photo of munroe's globemallow flower

Munroe’s Globemallow Advantages:

  • Bee Friendly

  • Attract Butterflies

  • Attract Birds

  • Extended Bloom Time (more than 4 weeks)

  • Multiplies & Naturalizes

  • Fragrant Flowers & Foliage

  • Very resistant to deer and rabbits

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Water Requirements: Xeric (low water)

Bloom Time: Mid-to-late-summer

Life Cycle: Perennial

(3, Pavek, P.L.S., J.H. Cane, O.A. Kildisheva and A.S. Davis. 2011. Plant guide for Munro’s globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana).



Buckwheat Varieties

(Fagopyrum esculentum), particularly Wyeth’s, James’, and Short-Stem varieties

photo of buckwheat flowers

Buckwheat Advantages:

  • Attract honeybees, other pollinators, and smaller beneficial insects

  • Many edible varieties

  • Many varieties have medicinal uses

  • Quick growing

  • Excellent cover crop

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Water Requirements: Moderate Water

Bloom Time: Mid-to-late summer

Life Cycle: Perennial

(4, Pavek, P.L.S. 2016. Plant Guide for buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum).



Thread-leaf Hyssop

(Agastache rupestris)

photo of a bumblebee on a hyssop plant

Thread-Leaf Hyssop Advantages:

  • Particularly appealing to hummingbirds

  • Attracts bees and butterflies

  • Pleasant fragrance

  • Long bloom time

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Water Requirements: Xeric/ Drought-Tolerant

Bloom Time: 4+ months (Summer-Fall)

Life Cycle: Perennial

(5, McDonald, Charlie. “U.S. Forest Service.” Forest Service Shield)



Blue Flax

(Linum perenne L.)

photo of a blue flax flower

Blue Flax Advantages:

  • Attracts beneficials, wildlife, and birds

  • Provide excellent erosion control

  • Seeds are foraged by birds

  • Cover habitat for small birds

  • Cultivated for linen or seed oil

  • Fire-resistant

Light Requirements: Full/ Part Sun

Water Requirements: Low Water/ Drought- Tolerant

Bloom Time: 6 weeks

Life Cycle: Perennial

(6. Ogle, Dan. “Blue Flax Plant Fact Sheet - USDA.” Plants.usda.gov)



Missouri Goldenrod

(Solidago missouriensis Nutt.)

photo of a missouri goldenrod flower

Missouri Goldenrod Advantages:

  • Attracts beneficial insects and pollinators

  • Land revegetation and reclamation

  • Native medicinal uses

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Water Requirements: Low/ Drought-Tolerant

Bloom Time: 4 months (July- first frost)

Life Cycle: Perennial

(7, Pavek, P.L.S. 2011. Plant guide for Missouri goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Pullman, WA.)



Prairie Smoke

(Geum triflorum)

photo of prairie smoke plant

Prairie Smoke Advantages:

  • Attracts butterflies

  • Important food source for insects emerging from hibernation

  • Attractive pink flowers followed by unique, feathery seed heads

  • Used for medicinal teas (roots)

  • Early prairie bloomer

Light Requirements: Full Sun (but can tolerate Part Shade)

Water Requirements: Low/ Drought-Tolerant

Bloom Time: 2-4 months, with persisting seed heads after that

Life Cycle: Perennial

(8, Mahr, Susan. “Prairie Smoke, Geum Triflorum.” Wisconsin Horticulture, Wisconsin Horticulture)


Have we inspired you to plant more native plants in your yard?


Tips for Planting Native and Indigenous Plants in Your Yard

  • Spring and Fall are the perfect time to plant these hearty plants.

  • They will thrive if you give them consistent water in their first three years of life during the growing season.

  • Many native plant varieties like the hot, dry climate of our hillsides and open plains, and need very little water (outside of natural rainfall) after they are established.

  • Some native plants prefer to grow along creeks or the river and will need a bit more water than others if you don’t plant them next to a water source

  • Native plants are incredibly fuss-free, for the most part, but you should avoid planting into the frozen ground (late October to March) or in the middle of summer to allow the plants to get used to their new home.

  • Plant directly into the existing soil in the morning or evening, following planting depth recommendations specific to each plant, and water deeply.

  • Most native plants thrive without excessive compost or fertilizer but benefit from mulch in surrounding areas to encourage water retention and general soil health.

  • Some flowering native plants will have extended bloom times or multiple blooms if you pinch off the flowers, but most will grow without much tending.

  • As with any garden, you’ll want to keep weeds at bay to prevent competition for water and nutrients.

Spokanites can find native and indigenous plants and trees at a number of local nurseries, such as Plants of the Wild, Desert Jewels, Blue Moon Nursery, and even the Spokane County Conservation District Plant Sale.


References

1. The National Wildlife Federation (2022). Native Plants. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/about/native-plants

2. Stevens, Michelle. “Showy Milkweed Plant Guide - USDA Plants Database.” Plants.usda.gov, USDA, 30 May 2006, https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/plantguide/pdf/cs_assp.pdf.

3. Pavek, P.L.S., J.H. Cane, O.A. Kildisheva and A.S. Davis. 2011. Plant guide for Munro’s globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Pullman, WA.

4. Pavek, P.L.S. 2016. Plant Guide for buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pullman Plant Materials Center. Pullman, WA.

5. McDonald, Charlie. “U.S. Forest Service.” Forest Service Shield, https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/agastache_rupestris.shtml.

6. Ogle, Dan. “Blue Flax Plant Fact Sheet - USDA.” Plants.usda.gov, 5 Feb. 2002, https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/factsheet/pdf/fs_list2.pdf.

7. Pavek, P.L.S. 2011. Plant guide for Missouri goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Pullman, WA.

8. Mahr, Susan. “Prairie Smoke, Geum Triflorum.” Wisconsin Horticulture, Wisconsin Horticulture, https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/prairie-smoke-geum-triflorum/.