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Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Posted by mooserider none (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 9, 12 at 20:59

Hi, I have lots of northwest native plants that are ready to plant and I need to decide on the best arrangement for my front yard. I removed my lawn last fall and re-landscaped it and will be planting mostly berry bushes.

I chose berries not only because I like the way they look, but also because their natural habitat is often partially shaded (forest understory). And that is the habitat that I am trying to achieve. My yard is on the North side of my house, so the house blocks a lot of the sun throughout the day... and I have trees on the west, partially blocking the sun in the afternoon.

Depending on the location in the yard, the amount of light it receives varies. So I have to decide which plants I need to place in the sunniest spots, and which can tolerate the most shade, and place them appropriately.

I've done some research on google and made a list of which plants can deal with which lighting conditions. Please take a look at my notes below and let me know if you think any of them are way off base. Any and all recommendations are greatly appreciated!

elderberry:
- full sun to part shade
- Can't tolerate dry conditions

salmonberry:
- Shade tolerant (shade to part-shade)
- Needs damp/moist soil mostly

huckleberry:
- Mild shade (not too much)
- Needs damp/moist soil

thimbleberry:
- Mild shade (not too much)
- Needs damp/moist soil

raspberry:
- full sun

red currant:
- full sun to part shade

snowberry:
- does ok in full shade

choke cherry tree:
- full sun to part shade

sumac tree:
- full sun to part shade

hydrangea:
- fairly shade tolerant with a little sun (morning sun is best, shade during the afternoon heat)

oregon grapes:
- does well in full shade to full sun


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Which huckleberry (evergreen, red, mountain, etc.)?

Thimbleberries occur in all light conditions in the woods and more often than not in dry soil. If successful, they will spread and form a thicket. Moister soil may hasten spreading.

Your other berry notes look good.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 12 at 13:10

Producing fruits being called berries in everyday usage has nothing to do with individual exposure requirements. Since this is a forest region dominated by trees most shrubs end up having to cope with shade, unless they are growing on balds or other places where trees are suppressed or excluded. As mentioned, particular predilections depend on which elder, which huckleberry and so on you are planning to try. If you are west of the cascades chokecherry, although present is not a typical tree for the area (far more abundant east of the mountains), sumac is not present natively on this side at all and there is no hydrangea native to western North America. With hydrangeas in general the main requirement is moisture.

Walking some parks and other places where native shrubs are present by their own devices, studying their situations can give you a feeling for where they might do on your own place.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Thanks for the replies! I do realize that some of the plants I chose are not native. I made a few exceptions for my wife, she loves hydrangea. But I thought the choke cherry and sumac were native. I got the choke cherry at the Seattle native plant sale last fall. And I see sumac's all over the city (the longhorn variety). I guess the sumac is invasive? I'm still going to plant it though, as I really love them... the look like giant ferns with their patterned leaves. But I think I have 95%+ natives, including all my flowers.

I'll have to check on which huckleberry and elderberry bushes I bought. I got a few varieties... and I know I have an evergreen huckleberry.

Thanks for the advice!


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 12 at 20:50

Chokecherry is native on this side but to a limited extent, definitely not a characteristic tree here. The closest native sumac is smooth sumac, seen on the eastern edge of the Cascades but not native on this side. Staghorn sumac is an eastern North American species. Evergreen huckleberry typically grows in association with salal, beneath madrona and Douglas fir. The same soils and exposures that support salal are most likely to accommodate it.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Note the name correction above: Staghorn, not longhorn.

Standard advice for evergreen huck is leggy growth in shade, compact growth in sun. Will need regular water until very well established. Now that your byline includes "Seattle", advice is occasional summer watering.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Larry/bboy: thanks so much for all the feedback. This is exactly what I was looking for!

Tonight I went through all the plants that were actually labelled and wrote them down. I got most from the Seattle native plant sale, and I got a few others that weren't labelled as well from an individual backyard nursery in Renton.

Below is a list of everything I have... not including a bunch of flowers, ferns and moss.

Wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens
Sage
Red flowering currant - Ribes sanguineum
Evergreen huckelberry - vacciniu ovatum
Salmonberry - rubus spectabilis
Bellflower (white)
Blue elderberry - sambucus caeulea
Goatsbeard - aruncus dioicus
Woodland strawberry - fragaria vesca
Snowball, cranberry tree - viburnum opulus
Clustered bellflower
Common snowberry - symphoricarpos albus
Red huckleberry - vaccinium parvifoliu
Choke cherry - prunus virginiana
Red elderberry - sambucus racemosa
Tall orecon grape - mahonia aquifolium
Thimbleberry - rubus parviflorus
Jakob Kline monarda ??? (no clue what this is)
Fireweed ??? (I think)
Sumac (staghorn)
Agastache (no clue what this is)
Hydrangea (not sure what kind)
Coastal strawberry - fragaria chiloensis


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Wintergreen spreads by roots to form a mat.

The flowering currant can get quite large.

Red huckleberry can get quite tall in shade, getting any fruit may be tricky, but I was sent a photo of fruiting plants just outside Vancouver WA. Usually found in drier ground.

Red elderberry can take over, often forms thickets.

Wet winter soil can do in agastache. Almost needs a rock garden setting.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Hi.

First: just because something is listed as being native to WA state does not mean that it is native to all parts of WA state. We have multiple distinct ecoregions, the most obvious being the wet west side and the dry east side. Few plants are native and equally common on both sides. Those that are tend to grow in very different areas - like drier sites on the west side and wetter sites on the east side.

As to your berries. Most will tolerate shade but prefer more sun. Most will tolerate what passes for full sun on the west side. You don't say where in WA you are, or even if you ARE in WA. We're just guessing. You don't even give us a climate zone which would at least indicate which side of the Cascades you're on. You could be anywhere and that makes specific advice useless. I'm going to proceed on the assumption that you're in western WA. (sorry, this is one of my pet peeves. Location is everything in gardening.)

Elderberries: two species. Both will take seasonally dry conditions. Blue really needs full sun. Red will grow in shade but the berries aren't edible.

Salmonberry tolerates shade but takes full sun. It does need humusy, loamy, damp soil - it's a wetland plant though it can tolerate seasonal dryness in summer. Berries are wonderful.

Huckleberries: many different species. Most prefer more sun than shade, and humusy moist soil - not wet soil. The humus is the important part for the red hucks. Ditto for thimbleberries.

Snowberry: like red currant, not edible, and not good for 'wildlife' either even though it shows up on all the landscaping for wildlife lists. Unless you get grouse in your yard. I think the rats might eat it. Spreads. Grows anywhere. Impossible to get rid of.

Choke cherry: as mentioned, not really native on the west side. Bitter cherry is the common native westside cherry - Prunus emarginata versus P. virginiana.

Sumacs: also as mentioned not native on the west side. That does not mean that they're 'invasive' when you see them planted on the freeways. WSDOT uses a lot of natives in their landscaping but they sometimes in the past used statewide lists rather than locally native lists. I think they try not to do that anymore.

Oregon grapes: multiple species, two on the west side, one on the east. Take full sun to full shade. Dry soil too but better with soil that holds some moisture. Not wetland plants at all.

Coast strawberry is not native inland from the ocean beaches even though it is native to western WA. Inland from the beaches you get either F. virginiana or F. vesca, depending on whether you're in an open area or a forest. If you lived in Ocean Shores or Long Beach, the coast strawberry would be the native one. In Seattle, you'd get the other two. You might get chiloensis on the islands in the Sound. Full sun, well-drained soil for chiloensis and virginiana. Vesca takes some shade.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

reg_pnw7: Thanks for the info! I forgot to set the zone on my first post. I'm in Seattle... capital hill to be exact. Sorry for the confusion.

With respect to 'native', I understand what you mean. I'm looking for plants that are generally native to the rainy west slopes of Washington... North Bend, Olympic rain forests, etc. The understory plants specifically, as I have a shady yard. Lower elevation as well, obviously... riparian to mid-elevation.

I understand that some of these plants may also be native to other parts of the world as well. I'm not looking explicitly for endemic plants, although it would be really cool to grow something like Indian pipe.

Your comment about huckelberries needing "humusy moist soil - not wet soil", does that apply to evergreen hucks?

"Unless you get grouse in your yard." LOL... that would be awesome. I see them all the time in the Quinault rainforest... my wife and I love the booming sound they make. Doubt I'll see one in Seattle. Thanks for the tip, as I always see them on the lists for wildlife as well. I'm surprised no other birds eat them, or squirels. Maybe the racoons or the possums will.

Guess I'll give my choke cherry away and get something else. I only got that because it was at the native plant sale. That sucks. Gonna keep the sumac though.. might even get a second and replace the cherry. I just love the way they look.

In case anyone is interesting in planting any of these plants, I've updated my notes with all the comments from this thread, as well as adding a bunch more to my list that I didn't realize I had... pasting below. Maybe it'll help someone with research time in the future...

Blue elderberry - sambucus caeulea
- full sun to very little shade
- Can't tolerate dry conditions, water often when dry outside

Red elderberry - sambucus racemosa
- full sun to parft shade
- dry to moist and well drained
- chicken treats!!

salmonberry - rubus spectabilis:
- Shade tolerant (shade to part-shade), but likes sun and helps berry growth
- Needs humusy, loamy, damp/moist soil mostly, wetland plant

evergreen huckleberry- vacciniu ovatum:
- Mild shade (not too much)
- Needs damp/moist soil

Red huckleberry - vaccinium parvifoliu
- large in shade
- grows on *conifer* (not cedar) nurse logs/rotting stumps (can make a fake stump with split wood stacked in a circle on end)
- be extremely careful not to disturb roots when transplanting. their roots follow the roots of a rotting tree for water.
- needs acidity
- Before creating a place to grow red huckleberries, there is one more consideration of stump dynamics to be factored in. The top of the stump is never saturated with water. This means the crown and upper roots of the red huckleberry get to breathe year round. However much of their root tips down deep in the rotten roots are in a saturated airless environment for much of the year. This means that the red huckleberry needs to be planted on a spot that is always hilled up some, probably at least a foot high after the ground settles, so the upper roots always get lots of air.
- Conifer (not cedar) sawdust, preferably aged (but this isn�t necessary), with a bit of soil mixed in, makes an ideal planting medium for red huckleberries.
- http://www.skilledwright.com/redhuckleberries.htm

Thimbleberry - rubus parviflorus:
- shade to sun
- Needs humusy moist soil - not wet soil

raspberry:
- full sun

red currant:
- full sun to part shade

snowberry:
- does ok in full shade

Choke cherry - prunus virginiana
- full sun to part shade

sumac tree:
- full sun to part shade

false lily of the valley - Maianthemum dilatatum
- moist to wet
- can take deep shade

hydrangea:
- fairly shade tolerant with a little sun (morning sun is best, shade during the afternoon heat)

oregon grapes:
- does well in full shade to full sun
- Dry soil too but better with soil that holds some moisture
- Not wetland plants

Wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens:
- groundcover

Sage:
- regular full sun
- not too moist
- bonemeal added twice durring the summer
- in dry spells, resist the temptation to water, sage prefers dry sunny conditions.

Red flowering currant - Ribes sanguineum
- dry to moist
- sun to part shade
- It does best in rocky, well drained soil in sunny locations and less well in heavy soils and shade.
- up to 6' tall
- hummusy soil... forest floor
- well watered until established

Goatsbeard - aruncus dioicus
- prefers dryer conditions
- can take a good deal of shade

Woodland strawberry - fragaria vesca
- full sun to part shade
- well drained, but moist soil
- not draught tolerant

Coastal strawberry - fragaria chiloensis
- full sun to part shade
- well drained, but moist soil
- not draught tolerant

Snowball, cranberry tree - viburnum opulus
(check name... tree or bush?)
- *??alkaline soil?

Clustered bellflower - Campanula glomerata:
- part shade to full sun
- sandy to clay loam
- moist (do not let dry out)
- *alkaline soil

Common snowberry - symphoricarpos albus
- shade to sun
- medium water
- neutral soil

Tall oregon grape - mahonia aquifolium
- sun to shade
- Adapted to dry, open, more rocky hatitats

Jacob Cline monarda
- Morning sun, afternoon shade.
- don't put in sun during high heat
- keep moist with mulch
- will need to tie them up somehow... the get very tall and fall over

Fireweed
- Can't take a lot of heat
- full sun to partial shade
- keep moist
- keep out of afternoon sun

Agastache (no clue what this is)
- rock garden setting? (winter water can destroy it)

Lilium columbianum (flower):
- full sun to part shade
- moist but well drained
- neutral to acidic


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

I purchased Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) about 6 years ago; it has only grown about 3 feet in all that time and no berries as of yet :-(

Jacob Cline monarda, aka Bee Balm(non-native) is a great hummingbird attractant. I do not mulch mine, you will need to divide it every 2-3 years or so to keep it healthy. Morning sun, afternoon shade is good, I have had no problems with mold.

Agastache does best in sunny, sandy soil, do not plant it in clay and it does not like to be watered and needs good drainage.

You might consider Twinberry and Red Flowering Currant.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

Evergreen hucks will do fine in any reasonably-drained soil, it does not require wood content.

Red elderberries are edible after boiling or baking, but they still taste bad.

Not sure about your fireweed notes. The common name comes from its habit of being an early colonizer of burned-over areas that get blasted by sun for several years. Perhaps they look better in the home garden setting under the conditions you listed. Their windborne seeds may sprout elsewhere in your locale.

We always called the viburnum "snowball bush". Multi-stemmed and sizable, but not a tree.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 16, 12 at 13:42

You should get a copy of this. The author lives in Montlake, you could probably even buy a copy from him at his house. It will show you what is native there (Seattle area) and - if you use it to go find some of the plants mentioned when locations are given for them - what kinds of sites are typical for each. Colder and wetter places like the west side of the Olympics and the western Cascade foothills (vicinity of North Bend) have somewhat different vegetation than the metropolitan area, that includes plants that will prefer to be watered in summer on many sites down near Puget Sound. And if you go far enough up the mountainsides there will be plants that want colder winters than occur down where most of the people live.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wild Plants of Greater Seattle


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

I, too, am a planted native of Western WA. Throughout my childhood and youth, I foraged for berries all over Western WA. Now, in my own garden, although the majority of my plants are non-native, I have a lot of native plants interspersed here and there, that have volunteered and that I have nurtured, including both red and evergreen huckleberry and oregon grape, trilliums, etc. I have had all the berry plants growing in everything from complete shade to lots of sun. From my berry picking days, to my own plants, I can tell you that, even though they will grow in the shaded understory of the forest, the plants that produce the most berries, by far, are the ones that get more sun, and the more the better. This holds true for the flowering currents.

As a berry picker, you always try to find a good thicket at the edge of the woods, with an eastern exposure. They really like several hours of morning sun. Sun exposure between 2 and 4 pm can kill young plants, but once established they can take that as well, if watered properly. I have a volunteer evergreen huckleberry growing out of a log in my back yard, in full sun, that is happy as can be. It gets enough water, because it's near a hardy fuchsia.

A caution on fireweed (if that is what it really is). I have lived in Alaska, also, where it could almost be the state flower. It is a root runner and can be quite invasive, especially here in WA, where it doesn't get the winter cold to keep it in check. Salal, also a native, is also a root runner, but it is very hard to get established, if not growing there naturally. I have known people, whose yards are backed by a large forested area, that absolutely hate it.

Regarding soil....all our native plants do like a highly organic, slightly acid soil. I have extremely light, sandy soil, which dries out very fast in the summer. My success with the natives has come from giving them a good, deep mulch of medium shredded bark, with fines in it. In the years I don't mulch I can really tell they are not happy. Good luck!


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 20, 12 at 15:59

As elsewhere, different native plants grow naturally in different combinations of soil moisture, fertility and drainage. Although each has a range of tolerances their behavior is consistent enough that the University of British Columbia was able to put out a forestry field guide in 1989 (I think) called Indicator Plants of British Columbia. The purpose of this book was to enable timber production interests to assess growth potential of timber trees on each site by noting representative native plants already growing there and then looking them up, seeing what site conditions their presence indicated.


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RE: Shade and sun, where to plant native berries

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 20, 12 at 17:49

Make that Indicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia. I didn't notice before I left part of the title out.


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