What’s your favorite California native plant?
If you’re drawing a blank, then this blog is for you. Not only are these native plants a beautiful addition to any garden, they provide a sense of place.
California natives are perfectly suited to our Mediterranean climate. They thrive in the cool, wet winters and dry summers– making them a water-wise gardener’s best friend. What really makes native plants such a lovely addition is their ability to connect us to the land– to the smells, textures and beauty of the surrounding mountains and open spaces that are “native” to our area.
We’ve curated a list of 7 native plants we hope will become the newest additions to your garden. With the rains and winter plant sales, now is the perfect time to go native and add your favorite picks to your landscape!
7 Must-Have Natives
Monkeyflower (Mimulus species)
These shrubs bloom from spring through summer with a color range from orange to yellow, to pink to red, thanks to the many cultivars and hybrids. Our Santa Monica Mountains tend to be blanketed by the orange-flowered sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus, aka Mimulus longiflorus). They are a great food source for the caterpillars of the Common Buckeye butterfly, too!
California fuchsia (Epilobium sp. Zauschneria)
When the flowers of summer have faded, the orange trumpet-shaped flowers of California fuchsia make their debut and become a welcome sight to hummingbirds, especially those on their way south for the winter. There are just a few species, but over 50 varieties with names like Everett’s Choice (less than 1’ tall) and Catalina (up to 5’ tall).
Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
This California native can be a multi or single-trunk tree. In late winter to early spring, the branches are covered with magenta-pink flowers, followed by rounded, heart-shaped leaves. A beautiful addition to any home and a great shade provider.
Ranging from ground covers to tall shrubs that grow 12’ to 15’ tall, you’ll find a variety to suit your needs. These natives are known for their white to pink bell-shaped flowers in winter and red, smooth, sometimes peeling bark.
Catalina cherry (Prunus ilicifolia lyonii)
This evergreen tree is native to our Channel Islands and Baja California. The shiny dark green leaves are a nice contrast to the often dull gray leaves of many California natives.
Apricot mallow, desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
This evergreen perennial starts blooming in spring and can continue through summer if given supplemental water, although it is extremely drought tolerant. The orange to pink flowers are a great contrast to the grey-green leaves.
California buckeye (Aesculus californica)
This deciduous large shrub/small tree is extremely drought tolerant. It will shed its leaves in summer if the soil is too dry but with a little water, it will keep its leaves until the fall. Large flower stalks make a striking display in spring and the scent is sublime! Seed pods follow containing one large, shiny brown, seed.