Native Plants

Grow for biodiversity

Oxbow’s Native Plant Nursery aims to produce a diverse array of native species that exhibit the most genetic diversity as possible. Genetically diverse plantings are desirable because they have a greater chance of surviving in unpredictable future conditions at a planting site, such as a harsh winter or a new pest. 

95% of our plants are grown from seed, much of which is collected locally right here in the Snoqualmie Valley. Growing from seed is important to us, especially when it’s seed that was collected from numerous parent plants and a variety of sites in a given area to provide the most genetic variety. We strive for genetic diversity in our crop so that diversity exists in the landscape when they are planted.

Additionally, we aim to collect and use seed from our region so that our plants will be well suited to the soils, climate, and pests of the greater Puget Sound area. 

Grow responsibly

Our goal is to get more native plants back into our highly disturbed landscape, and do so in a way that’s responsible, sustainable, and ecologically sound. It certainly doesn’t make sense to negatively impact one area in order to restore or beautify another. We take action to grow responsibly by using durable containers, which are returned by customers and re-used, we work to find organic fertilizers that are successful for use in a container nursery, and we rely on beneficial insects and biocontrols for pest management. We believe that such practices will assure the longevity of our land and the nursery industry.

Root system of a plant

Grow for resilience

We produce our plants with an eye towards aesthetics and resilience in the landscape – this means that we focus on growing healthy root systems just as much as we focus on the above-ground parts of the plant. An ideal container plant has a fibrous root system with many fine roots throughout the entire pot, and no root circling. A healthy, fibrous root system allows the roots to egress quickly into the planting site and access the necessary nutrients and water for establishment and growth. Using longer containers with open bottoms allows for air pruning and encourages secondary root growth. Breaking up and lightly pruning roots when transplanting up, taking precautions against overwatering, and applying beneficial microorganisms that protect roots from pests, also help us produce ideal roots. 

The New Burke Project

View of the New Burke from the UW Campus. (Courtesy of the Burke Museum/Olson Kundig/Stephanie Bower Architectural Illustration.)

Oxbow is proud to provide approximately 75,000 plants for the New Burke Museum, which is currently under construction and slated for completion in the fall of 2019. The New Burke’s all-native landscape, which has been designed by local landscape architects GGN, will feature native plants from two iconic Washington ecosystems: a Douglas fir forest and a camas prairie.

Oxbow has been collecting seed and growing plants for the project since 2015, and the plants will be an active element of the New Burke’s outdoor exhibit space. The plants will educate tens of thousands of museum visitors annually about native Washington plants, while also providing healthy habitat for wildlife in an urban Seattle setting.


Bridget McNassar, Native Plant Nursery Manager

Phone: 425.788.1134 ext 4


Donate to Oxbow and help us carry out our mission!

Oxbow is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization, and we can’t do this work without your help! We’re grateful for your contributions.