• Anna Thurston says Puget Sound homes generally have one of four types of habitats: A shady dry spot; a shady moist spot; a sunny dry spot; or a sunny moist spot. They also have soil that's well drained or mucky clay. Once gardeners determine their home habitat and soil conditions, they can choose native plants that like those conditions.
• Consult native plant lists to see what conditions each native plant favors. Thurston recommends the Washington Native Plant Society at www.wnps.org.
• Most woody native plants, trees and shrubs should be dug up and transplanted in the winter. Since many of those plants lose their leaves in the winter, beginners should go with experienced salvagers or take a class in twig identification.
• Some native perennials, such as bleeding heart, trillium and fairy bells, are tough to identify in the winter and can be collected in early spring, though there’s a greater risk of losing the plant.
• Try to get as much of the plant’s root system as possible by digging wide. While it depends on the plant and its size, dig at least 1 to 3 feet in a circle around the plant. Use your hand to follow the root underground. Dig 12 to 18 inches deep for most plants. Don’t dig next to the main stem.
• Use a sharp shovel and sharp loppers or clippers to cleanly cut roots.
• After digging up the plant, cover its roots in burlap or hold it in a pot or a cardboard box. Avoid placing it in plastic bags, which could suffocate the plant over time. Plant in the ground as soon as possible, especially before mid-March.
• Bring home buckets of soil when salvaging so plants will have soil and soil organisms similar to what they grew in.
• People generally have more luck transplanting native plants when the plants are shorter than hip height. Smaller plants grow faster than larger plants.
• Prepare the plant’s new home by digging a hole that’s wider than its roots and just as deep as its original home. Organic material such as compost can be added on top of the soil, but avoid using potting soil, said Erica Guttman of the WSU Extension Native Plant Salvage Project.
• Sword ferns, sedums, alder, willow trees, snowberry, elderberry, piggyback plant, fringe cup and camas are easy to transplant and will survive.
• Evergreen huckleberry (sometimes called saltwater huckleberry), salal and Oregon grape aren’t impossible to transplant successfully but are difficult because of their root systems and their evergreen foliage.
• For resources on salvaging plants, check out the Washington State University Extension Native Plant Salvage Project in Thurston County at www.nativeplantsalvage.org or the Native Plant Salvage Alliance in Pierce County at www.ssstewardship.org. Or contact Anna Thurston, Native Plant Salvage Alliance program director and owner of Advanced Botanical Resources, Inc., at 253-227-4923 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPCOMING SALVAGE EVENTS IN THE SOUTH SOUND
• Salvage native plants at Pierce County sites starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 27 and March 11. Free events are sponsored by Native Plant Salvage Alliance. Register by going to www.ssstewardship.org.
• Salvage native plants at Thurston County sites on Feb. 13, Feb. 21, March 5 and March 20. Salvaging begins at 9:30 a.m.; potting of plants begins at 1 p.m. Volunteers may attend one or both parts of the day. Free events are sponsored by Washington State University Extension Native Plant Salvage Project. Register and receive details by contacting WSU Native Plant Salvage Project at email@example.com or 360-867-2166.
• Buy native plants at the Pierce Conservation District sale on March 5, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at its office, 5430 66th Ave. E., Puyallup. The nursery-raised natives are species whose seeds were collected in Pierce, Thurston or King County. Plants for sale include conifers, ground covers, broadleaf trees and shrubs. Plants sold in bundles of five or 10, ranging from $5 to $23 per bundle. For more information, go to www.piercecountycd.org or call Rene Skaggs in the conservation district at 253-845-9770, ext. 106.
• Learn to use native plants in home landscapes to provide wildlife habitat and protect natural water features in “Naturescaping for Water & Wildlife” evening workshops on Feb. 24, 6-9 p.m.,
in Tumwater and on March 31, 6-9 p.m. in Lacey. A full-day Naturescaping Field Class on May 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Olympia, features an expanded curriculum and travel by bus to three private “naturescaped” gardens. The free workshops are co-sponsored by Thurston County Stream Team and WSU Extension Native Plant Salvage Project. To register and receive details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-867-2166.
• Learn how to design and install a rain garden to manage home drainage while protecting local waterways in “Rain Garden” workshops on April 14, 6 to 8 p.m., in Seattle; April 28, 6:30-8:45 p.m., in Tumwater; May 19, 6:30-8:45 p.m., in Olympia. WSU Extension Native Plant Salvage Project sponsors the free classes. To register and receive details, contact email@example.com or call 360-867-2166.
• “Meet the Trees of Washington” workshop on June 11, 10 a.m-3:30 p.m., in Olympia, introduces participants to four South Sound ecosystems: marine shorelines, prairies, freshwater riparian areas, and the lowland forests. After classroom work, participants will travel by bus to a nature trail to learn native trees, shrubs, ferns, and flowers. Free workshop co-sponsored by Thurston County Stream Team and WSU Extension Native Plant Salvage Project. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-867-2166.
Debby Abe, staff writer