How To Grow Salal (Gaultheria shallon) In Your Garden

Gaultheria shallon, commonly known as Salal, is an evergreen shrub that carries leathery, dark green leaves. It displays clusters of bell-shaped, pinkish-white flowers that mature into edible berries.

Salal reaches heights of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m), with a similar spread. It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 8.

Gaultheria shallon plant, showing drooping bell-shaped flowers
Gaultheria shallon photograph by Catherine Alexander; CC.

Gardeners appreciate this plant for its tolerance of shade and poor soils. This makes it an ideal choice for ground cover, especially in woodland gardens.

How to Grow Gaultheria shallon in the Garden

Gaultheria shallon prefers partial to full shade conditions. It is able to adapts well to a variety of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay ones. Though it does prefer a well-drained, acidic soil, for optimal growth.

Plant Salal in a hole, using a depth similar to the root ball. Do this in early spring or in the autumn. Once planted, give it a good watering.

Salal plant
Salal image by Malcolm Manners; CC.

Salal is fairly drought-tolerant once it has become established. Give it a watering duringprolonged dry periods.

A slow-release, acid-forming fertilizer applied in spring will help encourage healthy growth.

Pruning is generally not necessary, but can be done in late winter or early spring to help maintain shape (and to remove any damaged or diseased branches).

Be on the look out for aphids and scale insects. Proper watering and pruning can help to keep Salal plants healthy.

Adding Gaultheria shallon to your garden will add year-round interest, with its glossy foliage, lovely flowers, and red turning to dark purple berries. It will also provide a beneficial ground cover for shaded areas, and can help control erosion.

Gaultheria shallon berries
Gaultheria shallon berries image by John Rusk; CC.

Quick Gaultheria shallon Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Gaultheria shallon.

Common Name(s): Salal, Shallon.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 6-9.

Best Used For / Garden Location: Ground cover, erosion control, underplanting in woodland gardens, heathland.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Evergreen.

Plant Height: 0.5-5 ft (0.15-1.5 m).

Plant Spread: 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8 m).

Blooms: Late spring to early summer.

Flower Details: Bell-shaped, white to pinkish flowers.

Leaf Foliage: Leathery, shiny dark green leaves.

Fruit: Edible, dark purple berries in late summer and autumn.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Full sun to full shade.

Suitable Soil Types: Acidic, peaty, well-drained soil; can tolerate sandy, loamy, and clay soils.

Sowing / planting: Sow seeds in a cold frame in late winter or early spring.

Germination time: 1-2 months at 40-50°F (4-10°C).

Propagation: Semi-hardwood cuttings in summer or by layering in autumn.

Plant Care: Mulch with leaf mold or compost in spring; water regularly.

Growing in pots and containers: Suitable for containers; ensure good drainage.

Growing as a House plant: Can be grown as a houseplant in a bright spot with indirect light.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Attracts bees and birds; resistant to deer and rabbits.

Pests and diseases: Generally pest and disease-free.

Common Cultivars / Varieties: No known cultivars.

Family: Ericaceae, the Heath family.

Native: Native to Western North America.

References and Further Reading: Oregon State University, Landscape Plants; RHS Growing Guide; Plant Atlas.

Common Questions

Does Gaultheria shallon make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Gaultheria shallon is an excellent choice for gardens and landscaping. This evergreen shrub with shiny dark green leaves is especially useful as a ground cover plant in shady areas.

Is Gaultheria shallon fragrant?

While the leaves are not notably fragrant, their small pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers have a sweet aroma. These later turn into dark-blue berries.

What is the perfect location to grow Gaultheria shallon in?

Gaultheria shallon prefers to grow in a shady to partially sunny location. Ideally an acidic (woodland-like), well-drained soil is ideal. It makes a great understory plant in its native Pacific Northwest region, and is adaptable and hardy to USDA zones 6-9.

Is Salal invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Gaultheria shallon is not considered invasive. It is native to the North American west coast.

How do I remove Gaultheria shallon from my garden?

To remove Salal, cut the shrub back and carefully dig out the root system, Be sure to ensure all runners are removed, as this will prevent regrowth. Repeated removal of new growth may be necessary to eliminate the plant completly.


Gaultheria shallon is an evergreen shrub native to North America. It grows well in acidic, well-drained soila under partial to full shade. It's perfect for ground cover due to its spreading habit.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to grow Gaultheria shallon. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Gaultheria Procumbens, Pieris japonica, and Arctostaphylos plants in the garden.

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