Spring Planting In Portland

Dated: 04/18/2016

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Spring is absolutely beautiful in Portland!  The cloudy days are broken up with blue skies, flowering trees and beautiful bulbs.  All of this new growth makes even those resistant to gardening want to help Mother Nature along by planting something new!


Bowls of pansies and viola are Spring classics.  You can pick these up, pre planted, at almost every grocery store, nursery or building supply center.  For more more visual excitement, check out Cornell Farm at 8212 SW Barnes Road, Portland. ( www.cornellfarms.com)  This family business grows more than 800 varieties of plants.  Traditionally, they sell pansies and violas in colors that are rarely seen.  A Mother’s Day gift of potted blooming pansies grown with sweet pea starts is popular.  A variation of this is a pot of edible peas underplanted with salad greens.


If you are planting directly into the Earth, you will need to know the basics of the soil in your area.  Most of the Portland area has heavy clay soil.  A few areas near rivers or streams may have sandy soil.  Grab a handful of damp soil and squish it into a ball shape.  Open your hands and look at it.  Sandy soil will not stay in a ball shape.  It will start to slip between your fingers.  Great soil will break into a few clumps.  Heavy clay will stay in a ball shape.  Adding compost, not sand, to your soil will over time help to break up the heavy soil.


Clay soil does not drain well and this can rot the roots of many plants.  Fortunately, many plants thrive in this soil.  This makes them easier to grow.  Perennials are plants that live from year to year for several years.  Annuals are replanted annually.  This means that some of the easiest plants to grow are perennials that do well in heavy clay soil.  


Plants that Grow Well in Clay Soil:

  1. Daylilies: These are lower growing plants that rarely reach more than 12” in height.  They bloom daily and look best when the old blooms are removed.  The blooms come in dozens of colors with the oldest color being a bright orange.  These grow in a clump and can be divided into more plants every two or three years.

  2. Sedum Autumn Joy: These are fall standouts!  The leaves are thick and grey.  They bloom in late summer and fall .  They flowers are a lovely, rosey pink.  Varieties range from 6” - to 2 feet tall.  These would look great planted with daylilies in a low flower bed.

  3. Black Eyed Susans: These cheerful blooms look a bit like common daisies but have yellow petals with a pronounced black center.  Many varieties are native to the U.S. Midwest.  Easy to divide in a few years.  Many varieties are 2 or 3 feet tall.  Some varieties get much taller.

  4. Yarrow: This native plant branches out and carries flowers that seem to float.  Blooms can be yellow, white or pink.  There are many varieties so check the height for each variety.

  5. Purple Cone Flowers:  Similar to Black Eyed Susans  but usually larger with a more pronounced “cone” center.  The very deep roots of this plant help to break up heavy clay soil.  This makes it a great plant for a new garden space. Usually 3 - 4 feet tall.  Attracts bees and butterflies.

  6. Russian Sage: This can be an absolute show stopper.  This plant has grey / green stems and narrow leaves.  Multiple small flowers are purple.  This beauty can grow 5 - 8 feet tall!  


  • All of these plants can be grown together.  

  • They all want full sun and come back again in future years.

  • None of them need special fertilizers or care.  

  • They need to be watered.

  • Laying compost on the garden bed twice a year  in Spring and Fall will help keep the soil healthy.  

  • Picking off the blooms as they fade can encourage more blooms.  

  • They can be divided into smaller plants every 2 or 3 years.

  • Be careful not to plant them to close to the house or fence.  Remember they grow in width and height!


You can create a beautiful flower bed with just these plants!  Remember to plant the shorter ones in front and the taller ones in back.  Create a purple / pink color scheme by choosing coordinating daylilies and choosing the pink yarrow. You may wish to delete the yellow Black Eyed Susans or replace them with something with pink or purple blooms.


Creating a new flower bed has many benefits!

When planting a new flower bed with these plants you are attracting and feeding native birds and butterflies.  You will have something beautiful to look at as well as cut flowers to bring into your home.  

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Shawn Skinner

Your Portland Metro Broker with over 15 years experience Shawn remains continuously updated on market trends, financing and legal reforms, so he can help you make informed decisions. The real estat....

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