Annual Flowers

The “thriller” plant, the centerpiece with star qualities.  It’s big, bold and beautiful and used as the focal point.
The “filler” plant creates a stairstep effect to the thriller and fills the wide-open space of the planting area.
Finally, the “spiller” adds a bit of mischief by hanging over the edge of the pot in an unruly fashion.

For sunny locations, we often use the Ornamental Grasses, Geraniums, Dahlias, Snapdragons, Cosmos, Salvias, Marguerite Daisies and Gauras.
For shady areas, we like to use Coleus, Millet, Upright Fuchsias, Ferns and Begonias (tall).

For sunny locations, we frequently use Million Bells, Ageratums, Geraniums, Lantanas, Succulents and Diascia.
For shade areas, we regularly use Impatiens, Tuberous Begonias, Pansies, Coral Bells and Foamy Bells (Heucherellas).

For sunny locations, we often use Petunias, Techno Heat Lobelia, Verbena and Sweet Potato Vine.
For shade areas, we frequently use Lobelia, Fuchsia, Vinca, Ivy, Torenia and Creeping Jenny.

Yes!  Here are a few of our go-to deer-resistant varieties:  Bacopa, Marguerite Daisy, Lantana, Bidens, Marigolds, Ornamental Grasses and Salvia.

Lisa is drawn to the classic Red Geranium, Dwarf Zinnias and Orange Safari Marigolds for sun.  The showy Begonias catch her eye in the shade. 
And, let’s not forget the Sweet Pea vines, that remind her of the old coastal road on her way to her Grandma’s house!

Yes, pay for your basket now and we can hold a hanging basket for you to pick up at a later date.

Unfortunately, we are unable to hold anything smaller than a hanging basket.
Perennial Flowers

Top six perennials for morning sun are Astilbes, Ferns, Foamflowers, Bleeding Hearts, Hostas and Coralbells.

Top six perennials for afternoon sun are Yarrow, Coneflowers, Ornamental Grasses, Lavender and Blackeyed Susans

Tamus’ go-to plants are the Fleece Flower (creeping & upright), Catmint, Shasta Daisy and Coreopsis.  These are fast growing, deer-resistant and provide a showy display in the landscape.

For sunny areas (midday and afternoon sun), we recommend planting Peony, Catmint, Salvia, Bee Balm, False Sunflower, Lavender, Shasta Daisy, Russian Sage, Coreopsis, Ornamental Grass and Fleece Flower (creeping & upright).

For shady areas (morning sun or full shade), we recommend planting Ligularia, Bleeding Hearts, Astilbe, Brunnera and Foamflower (Tiarella).

Yes!  Ornamental grasses have proven to be very deer-resistant in the landscape.
Trees & Shrubs

When deer are a big problem in your yard, we recommend using Barberry and Potentilla shrubs.  Other shrubs we frequently use are Smokebush, Spirea, Viburnum, Juniper, Low Growing Spruce and Lilac. 

When it comes to shrubs, Tamus is partial to the looks of Admiration Barberry, Globe Blue Spruce, Tor Birchleaf Spirea, Compact Oregon Grape and Cranberry Cotoneaster.  (Which all happen to be deer-resistant too!)

As the saying goes “Good fences makes good neighbors”, so let’s make that a friendly green one!  We recommend using Siberian Pea Shrubs, Cotoneasters, Alpine Currants, Spruce and Lilacs.

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry, Thornless Hawthorn, Golden Raindrop Crabapple, Horstmann’s Silberlocke Korean Fir and Pagoda Dogwood are a few of Tamus’ favorite trees he likes to use in the landscape.

The 1” refers to the caliper (diameter) of the tree trunk.  The B&B refers to a field dug tree that is balled and burlapped.  When the tree is dug, the roots are enclosed in a ball of soil with a burlap bag and wire basket around the ball.  The BBB stands for “baby” balled and burlapped.  BBB’s are smaller, easier to handle and weigh less than a B&B.

Our trees range from 6’ to 15’ tall depending on the variety.

When a Mommy plant and a Daddy plant love each other…..just kidding!  We grow some of our trees and shrubs right here at the nursery.  The other finished trees and shrubs come from Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

Yes, we do!  See our official guarantee here

Fruit Trees & Small Fruit

Actually, gardeners grow a lot of different varieties here in the Flathead Valley, everything from Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Grapes, Currants to Apples, Pears, Plums, Cherries and many more fruit varieties. 

The easiest to grow and reap the benefits quickly are Strawberries, Raspberries and Rhubarb.  Plant Plums if you are looking for easy to grow fruit trees with quick fruit production.

Our fruit trees can range in height depending on the container size and variety.  Most of our #7 fruit trees are 5-8’ tall.  The larger B&B trees will reach 9-12’ high.

It depends on which type of fruit tree you are planting.  Although, having more than one fruit tree will increase crop production.  All Apples and Pears will need two varieties to cross pollinate (for example-Honeycrisp Apple & Sweet Sixteen Apple).  Some Cherries and Plums are self-fertile which means they do not need another tree to produce fruit.

One of our favorites with the crew is the Honeycrisp Apple.  Although, Sweet Sixteen Apple and MacIntosh Apple rank right up there in the top 3 list.

Usually, it will take 3-5 years after planting to get a full crop of fruit.

Giving the tree enough space to grow properly and receive sunlight on all sides of the tree is ideal.  The variety you are planting will determine the space needed.  In general, a spacing of 10-20 feet apart works for most fruit trees.

Just think of the bees when planting fruit trees.  The closer the trees are together, the more chances of the bees going from flower to flower pollinating the tree.  Therefore, if your neighbor’s apple tree is close to yours (within 100’) then the bees will most likely pollinate your apple tree.

Yes, you can, but only if you live on Flathead Lake!  The further from Flathead Lake the more risk you have in losing your plant due to the cold climate.  Most of the Flathead Valley is considered a cold hardy zone 4 (hardy to -30°F) and peach trees and blackberry vines tend to be a zone 5 (hardy to -20°F) plants.

Veggies & Herbs

The easiest veggies are:  Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Beans, Peas, Carrots, Potatoes, Radishes, Onions, Cherry Tomato and Squash.

Quite a few veggies can be successfully grown in containers.  Tomatoes and Peppers are the most common.  Yet, Lettuce, Swiss Chard and Herbs are often used for container gardening.

Cherry Tomato:  Sungold & Sweet 100

Sauce Tomato:  Roma

Slicing Tomato:  Early Girl & Manitoba

Our seeds are non-GMO and we carry a variety of certified organic vegetable seeds.  At this time, our vegetable starts are not certified organic.

Indoor Plants

The Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Dieffenbachia, Nerve Plant and Fiddle Leaf Fig are best for low light situations.

For easy to grow indoor plants try the ZZ Plant, Snack Plant, Ponytail Plant, Pothos and Rubber Plant.

For those with a lighter shade of green on their thumb, try the Cast Iron Plant, Philodendron, Chinese Evergreen, Cactus and Dragon Tree.

We adore the Aloe, Jade, Burroughs Tail, Hens & Chicks and Christmas Cactus for indoor delight.


For the best results when gardening with deer, we recommend using a rotation of foliar sprays.  Our favorites are Liquid Fence, Deer Out and I Must Garden Deer Repellent. 

We recommend using Bird-B-Gone.  It is a tacky substance you rub onto the trunk of the tree to discourage the woodpeckers.


The Spring and Fall are the easiest time of year to seed a lawn because the moisture from the rain helps the seeds germinate.  Although, you can seed your lawn anytime of the year, as long as you keep the seeds wet until germination.

Unfortunately, you can’t prevent pee spot damage left by your fur babies.  However, you can easily fix the damaged area.  Simply remove the damaged turf, rough up the soil and add a layer of compost.  Next let the existing turf fill in or throw down a handful of grass seed to help the turf fill in faster.

If pulling the weeds by hand is out of the question, then we recommend using a post-emergent for broadleaf weeds.  This product will target and kill the weeds without harming your lawn.

Plant Health

We do not recommend it.  Our weather fluctuates from freezing to thawing causing damage to the root systems, therefore, the plant usually dies.

Keeping a plant in the pot throughout the winter can be very tricky with a higher risk of losing the plant.  The best way for storing the potted plant is in an unheated building without extreme temperature fluctuations.  Make sure the plant is well watered before the potted plant freezes.  Be cautious when using ceramic pottery, as the freezing may crack the pot.

It’s simple, your plants are hungry!  We water daily (sometimes twice/day) with a water-soluble fertilizer (Jacks Fertilizer).  So long as the basket is receiving the proper amount of sunlight, adding daily water with plant food will improve your basket’s dazzling show of flowers.

We recommend using water-soluble fertilizer daily in conjunction with granular fertilizer of Osmocote/Sulfur monthly.  The combination of these fertilizers will result in an amazing display of foliage and blooms sure to please.


A layer of 2-4” is sufficient to suppress weeds and hold moisture while keeping your plant’s root system cool.

No.  It is best to fill your beds with the garden soil and any amendments before laying down your weed fabric.  This will allow your plants unlimited soil depth for root growth.

A full-size half-ton pickup with a standard bed can haul a yard of bulk compost or bark mulch at a time.  Due to the weight of the rock and soils, it is common to haul ½ yard at a time.

SRG uses the measurement of a yard as a large (orange) skid steer bucket scoop or two scoops of the small (yellow) skid steer bucket. This is more or less a cubic yard of material.

Yes, we do!  Order your bulk product here and we will deliver it to you. 

A soil pH level of 5.5-6.5 is ideal for optimal plant health.  Anything higher or lower can affect the availability of essential nutrients for the plant to grow and thrive.

We have simple one-time use test and pH meters to determine your soil’s pH level.

When your pH is higher than ideal, you will want to add an acidifier amendment to your soil.  Depending on your circumstance, we carry Elemental Sulfur, Espoma Soil Acidifier, Espoma Iron-tone and water-soluble fertilizers to name a few options to correct your soil pH. 

Not recommended for the Flathead Valley.  Garden lime is used to “sweeten” the soil or raise the soil pH.  Here in the Flathead Valley, we already have a high pH (alkaline) soil.  Therefore, we usually need to add an acidifier like sulfur to lower the soils pH.


Swan River Gardens Inc. does not offer landscaping services or lawn and garden maintenance at this time.