Gardening by the Weather: Indigenous Vancouver Plants

  • Vancouver’s endless days of rain, occasional arctic conditions, and desert-like summers can wreak havoc on well-intentioned gardens. Whether you’re selling and after some year-round curb appeal, or have just moved into your dream home and want a garden to match, we’ve rounded up the best weather-resistant plants indigenous to Vancouver.

    1. Vancouver’s coastal geography is ideal for several winter-flowering plants, such as the Rhododendron barbatum. Fiercely colourful on the darkest days of the year, the Rhododendron deserves a sheltered spot in the garden to protect its blooms, and looks best against the dark backdrop of a hedge to emphasize its beauty. Found at specialized nurseries or Rhododendron society sales, it’s best suited to a large garden and can bloom as early as February in mild winter conditions. 
    2. For pink, star-shaped blooms May through September, Asclepias Speciosa, otherwise known as Showy Milkweed, is an indigenous Vancouver plant that’s part of the growing movement to bring Monarch Butterflies back to the area. Though toxic to livestock, Showy Milkweed is a hardy plant which provides essential nutrients for the beautiful Monarch. Bonus: not only will you have a weather-withstanding plant, but you’ll be helping rejuvenate the population of one of the planet’s important pollinators. 
    3. First cultivated in China, Chrysanthemums are one of the easiest plants to grow and are perfect for container growing in small space city-living. The dense displays of colour are best planted in late August, beating the heat to last through October. Mums will make it through a few frosty nights if covered with a light, cotton sheet but aren’t meant to be perennials. Enjoy the vivid colours while they last–and picking out new ones the next year! 
    4. Foodies will love this cheat sheet from The Vancouver Sun on the Best Veggies For Your Coastal Garden. From staples like Beans and Beets to Carrots, Lettuce and Radishes, the A-Z guide tells you what varieties are best for our climate and can be seeded as early as February indoors before transplanting to your garden late April. 
    5. Another good guide for Vancouverites is the City of Vancouver’s Recommended Plant List for Street Gardens, including traffic circles and low-visibility intersections. The extensive list covers everything from shrubs to ornamental grasses and groundcovers.

    Have any weather-withstanding plants your garden wouldn’t be seen without? Share with us! We always love hearing from you. Photo by: Dominik_qn