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Montane to Alpine Oregon Natives

Subalpine Trees

Subalpine trees can provide a dramatic focal point for your garden. Diminutive conifers, their slow growth rate (1/4"/year) makes them ideal subjects for rockeries and other small spaces. They look beautiful with stones, adjacent to water features, or perhaps the entrance to your home. Give them full to partial sun and good drainage. You may want to add pumice or gravel to your soil. Subalpine trees are nature's bonsai - windswept or contorted by harsh weather conditions, each tree an exquisite specimen. Try planting them in groups or drifts of single species or combined with one another.

Companion Plantings for Subalpine Trees

Wildflowers that bloom above the clouds
Grasses, Sedges & Rushes
"Nothing is sweeter than wildflower air!"

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Pinus Contorta var.latiflolia, lodgepole pine, contorted pine
This native 2-needle pine takes on artful shape in subalpine habitats, and is easily transplanted to your garden, where it will remain a low maintenance tree requiring little water. Sun, well-drained soil. Contorted refers to the twisted or contorted needles.

Tsuga mertensiana, mountain hemlock
This marvelous conifer is equally at home in subalpine settings with fir, cedar, and wildflowers, and in home gardens at lower elevations. Sun/part sun/shade tolerant, regular water, well-drained soil. Kruckeberg proclaims "If asked to choose the very best native conifer for the small garden, mountain hemlock would be my first choice." (From Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Arthur R. Kruckeberg.)

Abies lasiocarpa, subalpine fir
Subalpine fir graces its home range with spires of upturned foliage, blue-green to silvery needles and upright, purple-gray cones. It is commonly found at high elevations in Oregon, but it will also grow at lower elevations. Sun/part sun/shade tolerant, low-regular water. It is common in drier areas of the Cascade range.


Penstemon serrulatis
Penstemon serrulatus
© Rian Crocker 2002