Best Plants for the West Plains

by Carol Newcomb

Are you spending January plant shopping for spring like me? Here are some excellent choices for gardening in the Spokane and West Plains. 

One of our favorite plants for hardiness, color, and drama is the sun loving Hydrangea series. This is a group of plants that are zone 3 and 4 hardy, do well in full sun, come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and bloom from mid-summer to frost. Be aware there are varieties of Hydrangea that are shade-loving and not hardy for our area, so choose carefully. Here is a list of special varieties that do well on our windy Paradise Prairie. Hydrangea Incrediball is one of our best growers. Scaling large at 6 to 8 feet, the basketball size blooms are pure white turning a lovely shade of lime green. 

Hydrangea Incrediball at Northland Rosarium

If Incrediball is too large for your garden, consider Hydrangea Little Lime which grows from 3 to 5 feet and Hydrangea Limetta growing 3 to 4 feet. Consider the popular Hydrangea Paniculata Vanilla Strawberry. Blooming creamy-white in midsummer and as the days shorten in the fall with a drop in temperature, the blooms change to a dramatic burgundy pink! Brand new this season is Hydrangea Pan Berry White, creamy-white blooms that turn a distinct shade of berry pink. Both are striking colors for the garden! We carry 25 different varieties of Hydrangea at the garden center, so let us help you pick the best one for you!

Tip: In order to fully appreciate a Hydrangea, be sure to give it time to grow. Hydrangeas can be spindly for the first season or two, but in a short time the crown of the plant will develop into a sturdy specimen able to handle our West Plains weather. 

We love roses because you cannot find a shrub that blooms as long and gives as much color to a landscape. We grow Own-Root Roses, meaning they are not grafted or budded which makes them hardier and longer lived for cold climate. During a cold winter the canes may die to the ground but roses growing on their own roots will will come back to original form.

Check out roses from the Easy Elegance series. Bred for big lovely blooms, disease resistance, superior heat tolerance and extreme cold hardiness. These roses don’t need pampering or chemical care. A sunny spot in the garden combined with minimal pruning produces an amazing bounty of bloom throughout the season. Choose from Champagne Wishes, creamy-white and popular with wedding designers for its beauty and long-lasting blooms. Coral Cove is rich in shades of orange and yellow and petite if your garden space is limited. Music Box is a burst of yellow and pink, very hardy and healthy for the cold. Super Hero if you need a pop of red in your garden and makes a stunning hedge. Check out during your armchair shopping this winter. 

We favor the Canadian bred roses which are hardy to zone 3. Choose climbing roses such as John Davis in soft pink or William Baffin in dark pink, both make bold statements in the garden. Shrubs such as Emily Carr, dark red and blooming continuously through the season; Morden Sunrise, apricot with a strong fragrance; or Winnipeg Parks, a lovely rounded shrub, compact, attractive, disease resistant and blooms all season. 

When you visit our display garden, you will notice we grow clematis in all sizes and colors. Clematis Paul Farge, a giant vine with tiny white flowers, blooms all season and is one of most popular vines to cover an arbor, climb into a tree, or cover a shed in the backyard. Rhapsody is a large dark purple flower that blooms for a long time in midsummer, and we love to pair it with a dark red climbing rose called Amadeus. They make a striking combination! Clematis Crystal Fountain, always a best-seller is a soft lavender blue with a double center (see picture). 

Clematis Crystal Founatain

Other must-have shrubs are sambucus and boxwoods. Sambucus is a hardy, fast growing, durable shrub for the West Plains. The favorites include the dark purple leaves of Sambucus Black Beauty, and the lemon-lime leaves of Sambucus Lemony Lace. Pink or white clusters of bloom in the spring ripen to berries for fall and winter. Boxwood Chicagoland, is hardy and performs well for hedging the rose garden or giving definition to your vegetable garden. 

There are many long-blooming perennials we recommend for gardens in cold climates, such as  Heuchera, with bright leaves and textures; Hardy Geranium Rozanne, overflowing with purple blooms and big green leaves, one of our personal favorites. Lavender, Delphinium, Echinacea or Coneflower coming in many colors with new varieties every season – they make good companions for roses and shrubs. 

Our choices for gardens on the West Plains is overflowing with hardy and healthy, easy-to-care for plants. Stop by the garden center when we open in April 2019, discover the garden and see our plants, talk with our experienced staff, and let us amaze you with the great plant material available for your garden. Join our newsletter for more information:

What does “zone” mean? Here on the West Plains we deal with more cold and wind than many parts of the Inland Northwest. Our garden is a cold zone 5 with some nearby areas dipping into colder zone 4. Spokane is listed as 6a but in our experience, we have colder temperatures. Therefore it is best to plant most of your garden with zone 4 and 5 plants. Zones are a metric of average temperatures for all parts of the U.S. For more information, search for the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Carol Newcomb and her husband Terry have been owners of Northland Rosarium for 15 years. Carol grew up in North Spokane learning how to garden in her parent’s large flower and vegetable gardens. She became a Master Gardener in Bonner County and contributed to several public gardens while pursuing her first love of growing English delphiniums. After she completed her degree in horticulture, she purchased the Rosarium and transformed it from a small local shop to a full service nursery, offering specialty clematis, perennials, conifers and trees, statuary and metalwork, and shipping thousands of roses per year across the U.S. In her spare time, Carol cultivates the 2.5 acre display garden in Spokane which has thousands of roses and unique features enjoyed by visitors from all over the country. Growing plants has been a lifelong love for the Newcombs and continues to this day.

Northland Rosarium –
9405 S. Williams Lane, Spokane WA 99224
509-448-4968 –

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