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30 Great Plants for 30 Great Years (Part 2)


If you haven’t seen Part 1 of this post, which outlines the first 15 plants on our 30 Great Plants for 30 Great Years list in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Hortlandia this year, you can check it out here.

We had dozens of initial selections provided by you on our Facebook page, then we polled you to narrow down the choices.  Over 1000 people cast a vote, and the final list of 30 Great Plants for 30 Great Years was published in the Oregonian: Hardy Plant Society of Oregon’s 30 favorite plants

(this article is written by HPSO Board Member & blog/social media coordinator, Kate McMillan)

Here’s Part 2 of our own take on the plants on this list…

Fuchsia magellanica

Photo by Gagea c/o Wikipedia

16. Fuchsia magellanica (Zone 7a)

Beloved by hummingbirds, and bringing a great punch of color to late summer gardens (including great pink stems), Fuchsia magellanica can deal with sun to shade (prefers morning sun) and is easy to grow. It can get pretty big (10′?), so make sure you have room for it.

Hakonechloa macra

Photo by Cillas c/o Wikipedia

17. Hakonechloa macra (Zone 5-6)

There are few more reliably beautiful, low plants for shade (can tolerate a little sun, ideally in the morning). It forms low mounds roughly 24″ wide x 18″ tall. This gorgeous grass has varieties from golden (‘All Gold’), variegated (‘Aureola’ and ‘Fubuki’), and touched with purple/red (‘Naomi’ and ‘Beni Kaze’). They work equally well as a specimen or grown in a group, and are lovely softening the edge of a path or as an underplanting under a shrub or tree. Nice with deep purple foliage as a contrast.


Photo c/o Max Pixel

18. Hamamelis (Zone 5)

Witch Hazel is known for its amazing display of fragrant, thread-like flowers in January and February. They come in colors of bright yellow (‘Arnold Promise’), to shades of orange (‘Jelena’), to reds (‘Diane’) and even purples (‘Amethyst’), and really light up the winter garden. They grow as a large shrub/small tree and often grow as wide as they are tall.

Winter Jewels™ hellebores

Photo by Kate McMillan of Cultiverity

19. Helleborus ‘Winter Jewels™ Series’ (Zone 4)

One of the world’s top hybridizers of Hellebores, Ernie & Marietta O’Byrne have created this wonderful Winter Jewels™ series that blooms from January to May. We’re lucky that their nursery, Northwest Garden Nursery, is nearby in Eugene, so we benefit from the ability to see these gorgeous plants on display at their winter Open Days. Marietta gave a great presentation at Plant Nerd Night 2018 explaining her ruthless process of selection to get the very best in bloom color and form. These are easy, workhorse plants for shade. They have blooms in colors from ruby, to white, to blues, blacks, yellows, pinks and apricots, with painting and picotee patterns in both single and double flowers. I mean, COME ON! Everyone should grow at least one of these.


Photo by Didier Descouens c/o Wikipedia

20. Lagerstroemia (Zone 6-7)

I’m surprised we don’t see more Crape Myrtle growing as a tree in the greater Portland area (although they seem to be increasing in popularity in recent years) as it’s a perfect tree for smaller, city gardens, and has multi-season interest (amazing winter bark & outstanding fall foliage) without much fuss. These grow in full, blazing sun, and there are varieties that grow from 8′ tall to 30′ tall depending on the variety, and most grow in a vase shape. They make a gorgeous multi-stemmed tree. The flowers come in shades of white to pinks to reds to purples, and show up at the end of summer. Some do better in our climate than others, so check out this Pacific Horticulture article from HPSO member (and Xera Plants co-owner) Paul Bonine for more information.

Mahonia gracilipes

Photo by Peganum from Small Dole, England c/o Wikipedia

21. Mahonia gracilipes (Zone 7)

This 5′, evergreen shrub can handle part sun to quite a bit of shade (including dry shade), and has a stunning whiteish/blueish color under the leaves. It flowers in late summer with sprays of reddish flowers that mature to gorgeous blue/black fruit on red stems. The foliage is the main event here with graceful, deep green leaves that start out on reddish stems with a red blush to the leaves. Give it a little water in summer for the best growth and display.

Melianthus major ‘Antonow’s Blue’

Photo by Bruce Wakefield of Old Germantown Gardens

22. Melianthus major ‘Antonow’s Blue’ (Zone 7b)

This beautiful plant gets quite large in a single season — to 8′! — but if you have room for it, the powdery blue, toothed foliage is a knockout. It’ll die completely to the ground below 20 degrees (established plants are hardier), and will do better with a little mulch. After a mild winter, interesting burgundy flowers attract birds to the garden. It needs full sun and good drainage with some summer water to thrive.


Photo by Bruce Wakefield of Old Germantown Gardens

23. Rodgersia (Zone 5)

The bronze varieties of this plant are especially wonderful, such as ‘Rotlaub’ or ‘Bronze Peacock’. This shade plant likes regular moisture, and grows from 2-3′ with giant leaves and large trusses of pink or white flowers in late spring with long-lasting seed heads.

Rosa Mutabilis

Photo by Kate Blairstone

24. Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ (Zone 7)

This is an outstanding rose where the single flowers start out peachy and age to darker pink, so there are multiple colors happening on the same plant! The deep green foliage grows on red stems and the hips are orange. This is a disease resistant plant that thrives in dappled shade to full sun with summer water for the best display.

Schefflera delavayi

Photo by Loree Bohl of Danger Garden

25. Schefflera delavayi (Zone 7b)

This 6′ evergreen shrub grows in shade and has a tropical feel. If it looks familiar, that’s because you often see Schefflera as house plants! The fuzzy new foliage is covered in creamy white indumentum, and the long sprays of tiny flowers appear in early fall.

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

Photo by Loree Bohl of Danger Garden

26. Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ (Zone 5)

This ‘Little Blue Stem’ grass (to 3′ tall) has blades that turn from powdery blue to jewel tones of plum and red in fall. It’s super low maintenance, drought tolerant (once established) and native across much of the USA. The feathery, straw-colored blooms are elegant in late summer.

Tetrapanax papyrifer

Photo by Loree Bohl of Danger Garden

27. Tetrapanax papyrifer (Zone 7b)

Everyone who sees this plant for the first time asks about it. This tropical-looking plant is fast-growing, especially the variety ‘Steroidal Giant’. It has huge, fuzzy leaves, and spreads underground (sometimes surprisingly long distances!) to form colonies, but you can easily remove wayward new plants. Grow it in sun to a little bit of shade, and give it some summer water. It may be deciduous in winter, but don’t worry, it will sprout amazing new leaves from the top of its trunk in spring.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Photo by Kate McMillan of Cultiverity

28. Trachelospermum jasminoides (Zone 7b)

Star jasmine has one of those scents that define summer! This vigorous, evergreen vine has small, white, fragrant flowers starting in the beginning of summer, trailing off until the end. It requires support to climb, and will easily cover a wall, fence, trellis or arbor. Give it a bit of summer water, and a warm spot in sun to shade.

Trachycarpus fortunei

Photo by C.Löser c/o Wikipedia

29. Trachycarpus fortunei (Zone 7)

This hardy Windmill Palm has a single trunk of brown fibers with large fans, and can be grown in sun to part shade with summer irrigation. It will eventually reach 20-30′, but not too quickly. In late spring you might get small yellow flowers. They look fantastic when grown in a bunch and uplit on summer nights.

Yucca rostrata

Photo by Loree Bohl of Danger Garden

30. Yucca rostrata (Zone 7)

This yucca displays its starburst of bluish foliage above a slowly growing trunk. It just gets better with age as it gets taller, and if you water it a bit in summer that will speed it along. Grow it in full sun with good drainage. The spiky, white bloom stalks shoot straight up in summer.

If you’d like to learn more about any of these plants, is a truly wonderful resource created by local talent.


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