558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
The white and pink flowers in front of AmeriTitle, 150 N.E. Court St., provide ground cover, and are found in several portions of Prineville and Central Oregon in early spring. They are an example of one of the early flowers that are hardy enough to survive late frosts and cold temperatures in spring, when other annuals are too tender to withstand the cold nights, unless protected or brought in each evening. The Japanese Maple, on the other hand, is not as hardy, and often requires a protected area such as this location, in order to survive the winters.
In Central Oregon, late frosts and extended cool temperatures into the spring can make spring planting a challenge, even for the seasoned gardener.
“The flowers that are going to do the best early in the spring are really going to be the violas, pansies, and things of that nature,” commented local master gardener Jason Carr. “It’s better to hold off on most annuals, at least planting them outside in the open air, until usually middle-to-end of May, and even sometimes into the first of June, depending on the weather and the weather forecast.”
He added that many people plant their flowers early in pots that can be moved at night into a covered porch or protected area.
“You can plant early if you do something like that, but it does take a little more effort to protect those kinds of flowers at night,” he added.
Carr emphasized that when selecting plants for outside in Central Oregon, it is important to pay attention to the zone, or minimum temperatures the plant can tolerate in the winter.
“A lot of plants can thrive in most climates, even in Central Oregon during the summer, but the issue becomes, once the winter hits — can they survive the cold weather through the winter?”
Many plants are perennials in moist and warmer climates, but are considered annuals in a climate like the high desert. Japanese maples, for example, flourish in the valley in locations like Eugene and Albany, but cannot tolerate Central Oregon winters unless they are in a sheltered location.
Brightly-hued hanging baskets and bedding plants like begonias, geraniums, impatiens, marigolds, pansies, and petunias will also soon be available around the high desert. In Prineville, many of these colorful floral baskets can be found at the greenhouse behind Crook County High School. Dan McNary, agriculture instructor and FFA advisor for CCHS, said that they have a variety of plants available, beginning May 11.
“We are going to start our sale on May 11,” said McNary. “We will then be open again starting on the 13th and will remain open until we are out of plants, or until June 7.”
Floricultural production is a key sector of Oregon agriculture. A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) shows cut flowers, potted flowering plants, and bedding plants are still important components of the state’s $744 million greenhouse and nursery industry, even though the numbers are down slightly.
Nationally, the 2012 wholesale value of floriculture crops increased one percent to an estimated $4.13 billion, which is the same figure recorded in 2010. California continues to account for about 24 percent of the nation’s production, followed by Florida, Michigan, Texas, and North Carolina. California and Florida combine to produce about 44 percent of the U.S. floriculture production. Notably, both states saw a slight drop in production value last year, despite the overall increase nationally.
“Floriculture is very important to Oregon’s economy,” says Gary McAninch, supervisor of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Nursery and Christmas Tree Programs. “Of course, it’s a smaller subsection of the nursery industry, but floriculture’s sales and production value would by itself make it a top 10 agricultural commodity in Oregon.”
Oregon sold 70,000 iris stems in 2012 with a wholesale value of $24,000. That’s just a drop in the bucket compared to California’s $13 million iris industry, but enough to please local customers and flower enthusiasts. There is also the relatively quiet, behind-the-scenes production of Oregon floriculture that ends up at retail outlets and ultimately in a person's home or garden. Several producers in the Willamette Valley provide indoor flowering plants to home and garden centers throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Part of the lifestyle for many people is the use of flowers and plants in their homes and gardens.
The Crook County OSU Extension office is a good resource for just about any gardener, whether they are just beginning to put in some landscaping or plants in their yard, or they are a well-seasoned gardener. Several handbooks on landscaping and deer-resistant plants are available, as well as knowledgeable staff to answer a variety of questions.
For questions or information, call the Crook County OSU Extension office at 541-447-6228, or go to www.extension.oregonstate.edu/crook/index.php
For more information on Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Nursery and Christmas Tree Program, contact Gary McAninch at 503-986-4685.