California Natives

Searching for a low-maintenance way to harmonize the look of your outdoor living space? Consider planting California natives.

California is blessed with some of the richest and most diverse flora in North America and, because these plant varieties have already adapted to California’s climate, they can flourish with significantly less upkeep than non-natives. Native plants are adapted to the unique climatic conditions of their growing area, so they require little or no supplemental irrigation and need far less water than traditional garden landscapes. Using drought-tolerant natives in California gardens conserves a scarce natural resource and saves money on water costs.

Many native plants are not severely affected by insect pests and diseases that afflict traditional ornamentals. Often, natives have adapted defense mechanisms to pests common in their habitats or have a high tolerance for pest damage. As a result, less pesticide is required to maintain native plant gardens in good condition. Decreasing or eliminating pesticide use in the garden also promotes biodiversity, reduces our exposure to toxic substances, and saves money.

Planting California natives also allows you to spend more time enjoying your garden and less time maintaining it. Natives tend to grow more slowly than traditional ornamentals and require less work at garden chores such as mowing, pruning, fertilizing and dividing. California native plants are adapted to a wide variety of growing conditions and fine native plant choices exist for virtually any garden environment. The biodiversity promoted by a native plant garden will reward the owner with satisfying experiences of discovery and observation, not only of the plants themselves, but a host of other species like birds, lizards, and beneficial insects. A good native plant garden complements the indigenous habitat and attracts nearby creatures dependent on that habitat.

The best time to plant California natives is in early fall or spring when the cool, rainy weather gives the plants time to establish. Water your California natives steadily for the first two summers. Most California natives do not need soil additions such as compost or fertilizer, but do require well-drained soil.

With such a great variety of natives to choose from, you or your landscape professional can easily create a beautiful and manageable outdoor living space.