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Let’s find some native plants!

 
gardener
Posts: 1890
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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One of the challenges with working with native plants on a wild homestead is that it can be hard to find appropriate native plants. Often gardening guides focus on more traditional plants and the guides that do discuss native plants aren’t from the perspective of a homesteader.

All this makes it challenging to find native plants for your wild homestead. The blog post – How to Find Native Plants for Your Wild Homestead – is all about helping you to build a list of native plants for your designs.

If you check out the blog post make sure to also signup to get your copy of the Wild Homesteading's Native Plant Tracker so you can easily keep track of the native plants you find and start building a list of your favorites.

So back to finding native plants—let’s dive into it!

How to Find Native Plants



If you live in the United States there is a fantastic online tool that can help you quickly find native plants for your wild homestead.

But I’m afraid that I was unable to find an equivalent tool for areas outside of the United States. I did find one site that was useful for Canada.

If you have any online tools you would recommend for areas outside of the United States please leave a comment below with a link and I will add it to the blog post.

Back to the tool…

The National Audubon Society created a Native Plants Database that is really useful. This tool lets you enter your zip-code (it asks for your email address but you don't have to enter it) and then get a list of native plants for your specific area that can easily be filtered to quickly narrow your search.

It also tells you what type of birds each plant supports and how it supports those birds. This makes it easy to not just find native plants but also develop a list of native plants that provide fantastic habitat for birds all year.

Attracting birds to your wild homestead can help control pests naturally and keep your land in balance with nature.

The tool will also give you a list of nurseries for your area that sell native plants. Some of those links are broken due to nurseries going out of business but there should still be some that work depending on your area.

So check out the tool (and the blog post!) and please share in the comments some native plants that you found using it! And if you have any other great online tools (especially for outside the United States) please share the link too!

Designing with Native Plants



Once you get your list of native plants then it’s time to start integrating them in your designs. This does not mean you only plant native plants. It just means you consider them just like you would any other plant.

Native plants support picky specialist insects which in turn support birds and other wildlife. Without native plants these picky insects won’t survive which means all you have left are the generalists which are happy to eat your crops.

By including some native plants you can support a wider diversity of wildlife. But native plants can also do much more.

Some can provide food, others can fix nitrogen, and others can support local pollinators. Just as you might plant some nitrogen fixing plants to better support your core growies, think about the functions a native plant brings and see if it would be a good fit in your designs. Perhaps some of your flowers could be native to support not just pollinators but also the picking specialist insects.

The blog post walks you step-by-step through using the National Audubon Society’s Native Plants Database and then uses a sample list of native plants for western Washington to develop an apple tree guild that incorporates a mix of non-native and native plants.

This sample guild is an example of how you can mix native plants into your designs. Take a look and let me know what you think!

While you are over on the blog most make sure to leave a comment! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.

If you leave a comment on the blog post make sure to leave a post here on permies too so I can easily give you the slice of pie.

Thank you and please if you know of any good online resources for finding native plants outside of the United States let me know and I will add it to the blog post!

 
Daron Williams
gardener
Posts: 1890
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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I wanted to share some of the native plants (for western Washington) I have found using this tool and other resources for my own wild homestead. None of these were growing on my land when my wife and I bought it and many are fairly rare in my area.

Flowers:

I love planting flowers and I have a goal of always having flowers blooming around my homestead. These plants help support pollinators but native flowers are also often host plants for butterflies and moths--often times there are butterflies or moths that only lay their eggs on 1-3 native flowers. So by planting native flowers I can add beauty to my land, support pollinators, and support specialist insects. Plus, these flowers are often edible or have medicinal properties.

1. Checkermallows: These beautiful flowers produce edible greens and flowers and they have medicinal properties. Pollinators love them and in my area there is even a native bee that will only pollinate these flowers. I really enjoy the taste of the leaves and they are great in salads and can be used as a pot herb. I find them very easy to grow! I have 2 different types of checkermallows growing on my wild homestead--dwarf and Henderson.

2. Deltoid Balsamroot: Another beautiful flower that looks like a short sunflower! The young shoots are edible and so are the young leaves and the seeds can be used just like sunflower seeds. But this flower also produces a large taproot that can be eaten (sweet when cooked!) and can be roasted and used to make a coffee substitute.

3. Oregon stonecrop: This flower gets really nice yellow flowers and loves to grow in exposed rocky areas. I built some rocky patches in my kitchen garden for this plant. It's a groundcover and once established it spreads fairly quickly. It does need well drained soils. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible raw or cooked. It can be used to thicken soups too.

4. Early Blue Violet: My understanding is that most if not all violets produce edible leaves and flowers but at least in this case the seeds and roots are not edible. This native violet produces lovely blue flowers and is also evergreen. I have added it to my kitchen garden and in some other areas. I'm looking forward to adding it to my salads starting next year!

Greens

While all those flowers listed above produced edible greens the following are a few plants that are less showy in terms of their flowers but do produce edible leaves and in some cases edible roots/rhizomes. But despite their flowers not being very showy they can still support pollinators.

1. Miner's Lettuce: Miner's lettuce is one of my favorite native wild vegetables. It's great in salads and can be used as a pot herb. It's also native across most of the western United States and Canada. It's naturalized in large parts of Europe. I love the taste of miner's lettuce but what really makes this plant awesome for a permaculture garden/food forest is its ability to happily grow in the shade. The leaves get bigger and taste better when grown in semi to full shade.

2. Pacific Waterleaf: I also really love Pacific waterleaf. It needs to grow in the shade but if you put it in a shady mulched area it will spread and form a really nice ground cover. It produces yummy fuzzy leaves that are great in salads or as a pot herb and it also produces rhizomes that taste like Chinese beansprouts.

3. Redwood Sorrel: Another great shade loving plant that produces great tasting leaves. I have not added this to my wild homestead yet but it's on my list--I have just been waiting for my other plants to grow and create more deep-shade areas since this plant loves shade. There are many other wood sorrels and my understanding is that they're all edible but double check before harvesting!


There are many more native plants I could list--especially the shrubs and trees--but these tend to be more well known. I wanted to share all these herbaceous (non-woody) native plants and how they can be used since they tend to be less well known. Even local native plant experts have told me they didn't know these plants were edible! I have planted hundreds of these and I'm excited to see them get going and start spreading around my wild homestead. I can't wait to make a salad consisting of a nice mix of traditional salad greens and these fantastic native plants--2 dozen different types of plants in a salad? Sounds good to me!

I also grow 3 different types of native lupines which are beautiful plants that fix nitrogen and develop very large and deep taproots. They can also be chopped and dropped to help build soil fertility. Plus I just love their flowers and so do the bees--especially the bumblebees!

Hope this list helps inspire you to check out the tool listed above! Let me know what native plants you find!
 
gardener
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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This is a little off topic, but do you have any sites you trust about propagating native plants?

In particular, I've got wild Salal on my land and I'd *really* like more of it. Some of these plants only respond to certain approaches within narrow windows of weather and methods. I've been told Salal doesn't like transplanting. I tried branch rooting last spring by bending a branch down into the dirt and was completely unsuccessful, although maybe if I tried that in the fall (our natural wet time) rather than the spring it would have worked better - or maybe a six months was too short? There are just so many variables!

I did save some fruit, but I suspect the seeds are like dust inside, and some fruit needs to go through a bird to germinate successfully! I've heard that about the native red huckleberry.

 
pollinator
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Jay Angler wrote:This is a little off topic, but do you have any sites you trust about propagating native plants?

In particular, I've got wild Salal on my land and I'd *really* like more of it. Some of these plants only respond to certain approaches within narrow windows of weather and methods. I've been told Salal doesn't like transplanting. I tried branch rooting last spring by bending a branch down into the dirt and was completely unsuccessful, although maybe if I tried that in the fall (our natural wet time) rather than the spring it would have worked better - or maybe a six months was too short? There are just so many variables!

I did save some fruit, but I suspect the seeds are like dust inside, and some fruit needs to go through a bird to germinate successfully! I've heard that about the native red huckleberry.



Hi Jay,

I use the propagation protocol database found here.

https://npn.rngr.net/propagation/protocols

I typed in Gaultheria shallon and found three for salal.

 
Jay Angler
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Thank you William. I will give two of their suggestions a try - the two that from the Pacific Northwest area as that's closest to my eco-system.
 
William Schlegel
pollinator
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Jay Angler wrote:Thank you William. I will give two of their suggestions a try - the two that from the Pacific Northwest area as that's closest to my eco-system.



Don't shortchange Baskin and Baskin. Their seeds came from the PNW.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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These are my favorite sources for seeds of native and regional plants:

https://www.seedsource.com/

https://plantsofthesouthwest.com/

https://sheffields.com/


I also collect seeds from my local area.
 
Daron Williams
gardener
Posts: 1890
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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Jay – Propagation is not my strong suite—it’s on my list of things I need to get better at. The group I turn to the most is the Native Plant Salvage Foundation: https://www.nativeplantsalvage.org/

They’re based out of Olympia WA and they run workshops in their nursery—their website has the upcoming days. If you could ever make it to those events I’m sure you would learn a lot. The people who run the nursery would be happy to answer questions if you showed up to help.

Also, check out this pdf: http://jeffersoncd.org.s13831.gridserver.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Grow-your-own-native-landscape.pdf

It’s a copy of a book that I have access to at my work. The book gives an overview of a lot of the native plants in western WA/OR and that includes some propagation tips. I work with the guy who wrote it and its been a good resource.

William – Great resource! Thanks for sharing! I’m going to have to check it out too 😊

Tyler – Thanks for the list! To add to it… for those of you in western WA or OR I really like Northwest Meadowscapes: https://northwestmeadowscapes.com/

They’re one of the best in our area for finding native seeds for flowers at least. They don’t have seeds for woody plants.
 
garden master
Posts: 1185
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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I've really enjoyed putting in my zip code to the Native Plant Database from the National Audubon Society link above, and browsing the native plants for my area. I've seen a lot of familiar plants from my property that I hadn't identified yet, which was really neat!

I also have a few of the field guides from the National Audubon Society that I've really enjoyed, and they have been handy identifying a lot of plants on my property so that I can then research other uses and benefits of the plants.
 
gardener
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What an awesome resource! I wish we had something like that here.
 
yeah, but ... what would PIE do? Especially concerning this tiny ad:
Perennial Vegetables: How to Use Them to Save Time and Energy
https://permies.com/t/96921/Planting-Perennial-Vegetables-Homestead
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