FAQs

Will Sparrowhawk Native Plants help me get my Backyard Habitat Program Certification?

Yes!  The Backyard Habitat Certification Program advocates for native plants that are on the Portland Plant List .  All of the plants listed on Sparrowhawk Native Plants are on the Portland Plant List except for Showy Milkweed, which is considered native further South in the Willamette Valley by Eugene.

There are so many options! How do I decide which native plants to buy for my yard?

First, decide where you would like to add a Native Garden to your yard to welcome local birds and pollinators, and then think about how much sun or shade that area gets and how dry or wet the soil seems.  Then, filter the plants by those conditions to find the plants that will likely work best for your new Native Garden.

To benefit wildlife, think about your Native Garden as a community of plants that live together (like in nature) versus individual stand-alone plants. Planting species in multiples helps make sure there are enough blooms of that plant to attract pollinators like hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees.

How do I know if my soil is Dry, Moist, Wet or Seasonally Wet? Isn't all soil in Portland wet in winter?

Dry soil gets hard in summer, sometimes cracked. It is often found in open areas that get lots of hot summer sun, or shady areas that are below large trees that compete for water. Dry areas could be lawn that goes brown in summer, or a southern or western exposed slope, or below a huge old Douglas Fir tree.

Moist soil is often somewhat protected in the summer - perhaps by the shade of neighboring plants or a structure which prevents it from getting fully dried out by the sun.  Moist soil also often has a good amount of organic matter - like compost or fallen leaves - mixed in which helps hold available water like a natural sponge.

Wet soil has a water source nearby almost all year round - like a creek edge, pond edge, or being dripped on by a natural spring.

Seasonally wet soil occurs in areas where stormwater puddles in the winter, but dries up in the summer.  Rain Gardens created by disconnected downspouts are often Seasonally Wet, as they are full of standing water in winter rains, but dry out in the summer.

Why are you selling plants in the fall? I thought spring was planting season?

Fall is a fantastic (and arguably the best) time to plant your new Native Garden.  Plants have finished their blooms and seed production, so can spend their energy this fall and winter on getting roots established to come back strong and healthy in spring.  Winter rains will naturally water your new garden for you!

What can I do to prepare for the arrival of my new native plants?

Preparing for a new Native Garden is an excellent time to think about your soil health.  Is your soil rich and crumbly, and plants easily grow in it? Or is it hard and dry and difficult to keep anything alive? One way to start rejuvenating poor soil before planting is to add thick layers of organic matter, like compost and/or free/cheap tree mulch from ChipDrop.com. Continually adding more organic matter each season, like more wood chips, grass clippings in summer and fallen leaves in winter, will help naturally provide your soil and new plants with nutrients.

Do you have advice on how to plant my new potted native plant?

First, water the plant thoroughly in its pot and let it sit overnight or at least a few hours so that its roots have a chance to soak up the water.  Dig the hole twice as wide as the pot and loosen the soil around the edges.  Gently pull the plant out of it's pot. Look for roots that are circling and pull them out so they point outwards away from the stem. Mix some of the soil from the pot with the existing soil and create a little hill at the bottom of the hole.  Set the new plant on the hill and arrange the roots heading down away from the stem. Gently fill in the hole with remaining dirt and water deeply all around. Add a top layer of mulch, which could be wood chips, compost and/or fallen leaves.