Moving to Seattle! What can I grow?

RantpuppyAugust 16, 2005

Hi Everyone!

I am a Maryland gardener and my boyfriend and I have decided that we are moving to Seattle next summer because we both hate Maryland's hot humid summers and cold freezing winters.

Has anyone else here in this forum relocated from Maryland/DC/Virginia (the Mid-Atlantic) into the Seattle area? What kind of climate change should I be prepared for?

Can someone please tell me which of my favorite plants can be successfully grown in the Seattle area:

- hydrangeas, lilacs, Japanese maples, daffodils, delphiniums, lilies (bulbs), water lilies, David Austin Roses, white birch, junipers, tulips, clematis, daylilies, liatris, Shasta daisy, columbine, and hostas?

I heard that the Pacific Northwest has problems with gigantic slugs that are big enough to devour a human baby. Is this true?

Also, I thought I read somewhere that someone was growing PALM TREES outdoors in the P.N.W. Is this true?! If so, what genera/species?

THanks for your help everyone!

- Victor :)

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Well as far as palm trees go, Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill palm) is concidered the easiest to grow and well suited to this climate. Others types of palms do succeed in more exacting sites. Here's a link to give you an idea of some of the plams growing in the PNW.

Cheers, Barrie (Vancouver Island)

Here is a link that might be useful: Palms in the PNW

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 2:55PM
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Everything you listed will grow, and some really well like the roses.
You will LOVE the summers here (I'm also an East Coast transplant NY) Humidity is not a factor, it is lovely. And when we get 2 inches of snow here (about twice during winter) the city pretty much shuts down.
Slugs are over rated if you are aware of them and take measures to control them. I keep my more sensitive plants in pots and they leave those alone.
Downsides- bindweed- looks like morning glory but WILL devour everything. Blackberries- these leap 15 feet over fences and try to take you down if you aren't looking.
It's a great city for gardening but be prepared for expensive housing, within the city limits buying a house is very competetive. Good luck and welcome!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 3:01PM
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rantpuppy, not only palm trees but I'm growing banana (Musa Bajoo) fig trees without protection. lol hostajim1 P.S. oh yea and Hostas, I have 100 plus cultivars now and growing.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 1:05AM
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mcsix(z8 WA)

You will love gardening here. Everything you mentioned will grow and so much more. Try Sluggo for the slugs and you won't have a problem. They aren't fun, but they have a pretty interesting lifestyle...gross but interesting.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 10:19PM
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homernoy(z8b Bemerton)

Hi Victor. Here are some Trachycarpus palms planted near where I live. This should give you a good idea of how well they can grow here. I was told these palms were planted in 1984. There is one near my house that is one of the tallest north of California. It was planted in 1939. By the way, if you love geese, you will fu**ing s*it your pants around here. I think they are a big problem for the environment personally, but to each his own.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 11:32PM
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cangrow(Z7 BC Canada)

Seattle is zone 8a/8b. You may have difficulty with bulbs rotting during wet summers (plant them on hillsides or areas you don't water in the summer, or in planters you put in the garage for the summer).

Tales of babies being carried off by slugs are exaggerated: only because the slugs lack motivation, not ability. We get slugs as thick as my thumb and five or more inches long.

I prefer to let my slugs die happy rather than using poison. I use beer traps from plastic food containers: remove lid, cut four 1-inch-square notches out of the top edge of the container, pour in 1" of beer, replace lid, bury in garden up to bottom edge of notches. (Lid keeps rain from diluting beer and shields your view of bloated slug bodies.)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 3:17PM
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Bulbs rotting during wet summers? What wet summers? Someone coming from Maryland isn't going to suddenly encounter wet summers here. Bulbs rotting in summer here is going to be from irrigation, unsuitably heavy soil, narcissus bulb fly... Heck, this is a commerical production area for bulbs.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 6:22PM
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I'm with Ron B on this one. Bulbs won't rot even in winter where I am. And for the record beer is for people, not slugs.

Cheers, Barrie (Vancouver Island)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 1:55AM
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hi Everyone!

Thanks so much for all the good feedback! This is awesome! It's like some sort of magical land where I can grow palm trees and fir trees right next to each other!

There are a few other plants that I'm interested in growing in Seattle. Can someone tell me if I can grow:

Blueberries, rhubarb, crape myrtles, Eastern redbud, hollies, camellias, D'Anjou pears, Concord grape vines, gardenia, Kousa dogwood, and weeping cherry?

Do things like squash and watermelon do well in Seattle?

Does anybody have any luck growing any cacti outdoors? Here in Maryland I've seen some species of Opuntia being grown outdoors, although they always look ratty.

I can't wait to move!!! :D

- Victor

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 6:12PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Don't know about cacti, but the other stuff does well here. Not sure about concord grapes, but we have a commercial wine crop here in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. There are obviously some types of grapes that do very well in our climate. One thing you should realize is that some plants that grew well in your old climate are more difficult here, whereas stuff that is native to our area is just lovely. For example, zinnias are almost weeds in hot areas. Here, they don't thrive if we have wet cool weather. It should be fun for you to learn about gardening on the west coast.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 10:35PM
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Various cacti are grown here. One is native to coastal BC (and western WA).

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 12:35AM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

What can't you gorw here might be a better question :-)

Gardenias are iffy, but you should check out the recent thread on the variety 'Chuck Hayes'.

Welcome to gardening paradise!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 11:23AM
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Watering has been a problem after that dry winter, once the spring showers fell off it got arid real quick here. Paradise is a place you find when you die.

Order a copy of the Sunset 'Western Garden Book' to get a preview of some kinds of plants you might find yourself planting, what the climates are like out here. See 'The Plant Locator - Western Region' (Black-Eyed Susans/Timber) for listings of over 50,000 kinds of plants being offered by 336 nurseries in western North America.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 12:42AM
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eric_in_west_seattle(8 Seattle)

There's a big palm growing next to a Blue Spruce near here. It's a striking yet ugly combination.

Watermelons don't do well here, though there's always someone who can do it. Black plastic mulch to capture heat maybe. The maritime northwest has about the coolest most comfortable summer temps anywhere in North America. That makes it more difficult to grow heat-lovers like peanuts and okra.

Anyone growing those?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 12:05AM
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darlene87(z7 Wa)

Berries do great here, we have 4 blueberry bushes and get almost a gal. per day for over a mo. Also we have 3 types of grapes, concord is one. We have raspberries, blackberries, thornless, and strawberries. If you decide you don't like to grow a palm, you can try a monkey puzzle tree! Poppies do well here, the famous blue poppy is in this area, dahlias, and lots of bulbs. Lavander loves it here. You will enjoy it, and never run out of plants to play with. We have orchid cactus outside in summer, but take inside in the fall when it gets chilly. Our winter here, by Seattle is usually in the hi 30s, but you can research that. Last winter we had a dry winter, almost a drought, that was on the news. I am sure you will love it here.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 4:35AM
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Blue poppy is actually a poppywort (Meconopsis), unlike poppies (Papaver) tending to find it rather dry here for its liking. Woodland gardens with high humidity, shade and fertile soil suit it best. Prone to mites, a problem common to cloud forest climate plants when they are relocated in drier areas. Even in cool, rainy UK poppyworts to best in even cooler, rainier Scotland than in England.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 3:49PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

Paradise is a place you find when you die.

But gardening paradise is a place you find when you leave Alaska!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 3:15AM
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Sorry to see you leaving Maryland but I understand the desire. Our summers can be truly retched. I've always wanted to live in Northern California because of the cooler summers. However, given the skyrocketing real estate prices in that state the Pacific Northwest is looking appealing. But not until retirement. Rob and I have made a pact that we are staying put as long as both our mothers are alive.

As for gardening you MUST grow the ENGLISH ROSES in quantity. They are perfectly suited for the Pacific Northwest climate, which is virtually identicle to that of the British Isles. Delphiniums should perform beautifully, especially the Pacific Giants. Himalayan and Hybrid Blue Poppies have always been a fascination of mine but they only thrive in parts of Maine and the PNW. If you like the color blue you really should have some.

Basically all the traditional cottage flowers should do well in that cool moist climate.

I'm gonna miss you dude. Please keep in touch and send me a private e-mail if you'd like to get together with Rob and I before leaving.

Image of Meconopsis by BluePoppy at Hortiplex

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 6:45AM
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JeanneK(z8 OR)

Actually, The British Isles gets much more rain in the summer time than the PNW. The PNW gets no rain or very little from July to October, so any rain loving plant such Meconopsis, as Ron mentioned, or even delphinium will want a lot of supplemental water in the summer.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 12:44PM
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Victor, you will love the Northwest! I left the hot, humid, summers and icy, dreary winters of the Midwest a year ago, and although I miss some of the people there, I sure don't miss the weather! Of course winters here can be pretty dreary, too, but I'm used to that part -- and I find a 40-degree day with rain feels a *lot* more like spring than winter! My Midwest friends hate me for saying things like, "I'm looking forward to fall, and then when it's over, spring!" :) Of course natives here will argue that the winters are long and wet and they are, but like I said, it's not cold, and things are blooming and growing, so it doesn't feel like winter to me! And in summer, when it's 80 and sunny -- that's all it is -- 30% humidity just does NOT feel the same as those awful wring-out-the-air days of other parts of the country. In fact, sometimes the "feels like" temperature in summer is LOWER than the actual temp. Others complain about the heat but to me, not a heat-lover, 80 can feel delightful. Gardening is great, too -- you're going to love seeing so many plants that you think of as tropical, or houseplants, growing as huge specimens in this part of the country -- and even the things you're used to will look different here, larger, and blooming longer... the only problems, as mentioned, are that some of the heat-loving things don't do as well here, but that just creates some fun challenges. So come on out, and enjoy!!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 2:36PM
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JeanneK is right. British climate, although roughly similar, is distinctively different. Aside from more summer precip, the temps are cooler and in some cases, much cooler.

Cheers, Barrie.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 7:56PM
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Here in the PNW, I have something in bloom in my garden 365 days a year. The only things I've had trouble growing so far are cantaloupe melons, and I've started growing tomatoes in my greenhouse, which do wonderfully in there all summer long. Other than that, just about every thing I've tried (and that's a LOT!) has done well here.

Yeah, some people complain about the wet, gray winters. But... since we can have things blooming here year-round, I get outside and garden every day of the year rain or shine. You get used to it, and not many other placed can begin to grow such a variety of wonderful plants as we can, from hostas to hardy banana.


Here is a link that might be useful: My website...plants I grow in the PNW

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 1:29AM
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