Pacific Northwest Plants 101

Whether you consider yourself to be an avid gardener or not, you’re probably familiar with some of the more popular and common plants we see here in Pacific Northwest gardens and yards. Compared to the rest of the US, Washington has a pretty mild and accommodating climate and can support a wide variety of foliage, especially during the Summer months when sunshine is plentiful and pollinators like bees are out in full force.

No matter your current level of knowledge when it comes to common garden plants, it’s always fun to learn something new about our PNW ecosystem and the types of plants that thrive here. So, let’s take a walk in the virtual garden together and learn more about some of our favorite garden additions! 

Pacific Bleeding Heart

The Pacific Bleeding Heart is one of the most recognizable perennial plants in the PNW, with their hearty green leaves and delicate pink flowers that look, quite literally, like tiny bleeding hearts – talk about a well-named plant! 

The Bleeding Heart emerges from its wintertime spot in the ground around late February and early March and starts blooming in late March. We love these native plants because they can just as easily be a standalone bush to accent your overall landscape design or a groundcover if you let them grow and spread as they want to. Bleeding Hearts are also a favorite of hummingbirds, and butterfly larvae love the flowers’ nectar, too. 

These plants thrive in the PNW because they like the shade and grow very well in dry heat, which we know all too well here in Vancouver! 

Pacific Rhododendron

The Pacific Rhododendron (known by almost everyone as “Rhodies”), is another very recognizable plant that can be found in almost any yard here in the PNW. But did you know that the Pacific Rhododendron is also the Washington State flower? Fun fact, right?!

Rhodies have the potential to grow very large in almost any part of Washington, but they particularly like the climate we have in Vancouver. They thrive in acidic soil conditions and aren’t extremely picky when it comes to shade versus sun. 

For those of us with smaller yards, Rhodies are a great addition, because they tend to grow vertically more than they grow horizontally, adding some variety of heights to your landscape design.


Washingtonians and Oregonians love their roses, and we can see why! Roses are a classic addition to any yard or landscape, and they do well in the PNW environment (just look at the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, our neighbor to the south). 

While Roses have a tendency to be a bit finicky and high-maintenance, if you find a spot they like, they will continue to grow and bloom year after year! They love the Summer sun, and the occasional Summer rain shower is perfect for the amount of water that they crave during their blooming season.

Pacific Northwest Hosta

While you may not recognize the name, you probably recognize this leafy, unique plant that is actually pretty popular in PNW gardens. These bushes love the heavy shade and look beautiful whether they are flowering or not. Since they’re a tuber plant, they will grow back each year and are hearty enough to survive a cold winter.

Hostas love rich soil, which we have in abundance here in Washington, and they are super low maintenance, leaving you more time to enjoy your yard versus caring for it!

If you have dreams of a beautiful garden but wouldn’t consider yourself an expert gardener, hiring a landscaping professional (like our team at Greenhaven Landscapes) can help make your dream into reality! An experienced designer can not only help you envision and execute a plan to create a beautiful space, but they can also advise on the best plants to plant that will fit your lifestyle and level of gardening expertise.

Give us a call or contact us to get in touch with our friendly team and get started on your next landscaping project!