Plant of the Month

Abutilon palmeri Ken Gilliland Each month we feature a different native plant species or cultivar and offer it at a 20% discount to members. Not yet a member? Join here.

2017

JUNE Phacelia californica—California Phacelia (Boraginaceae)
This evergreen perennial forms spreading rosettes to 6”-18” high and 1’-2’ wide with textured gray green foliage. Dense, hairy coiled clusters of pale lavender bell-shaped flowers rise 18” above the plant in spring. Drought tolerant; full sun; adapts to most soils. Grows well among rocks. An excellent choice for pollinator gardens.

 

 

MAY All Heuchera ‘Canyon Quartet Series’—Canyon Quartet Series Coral Bells (Saxifragaceae)
The Canyon Quartet Series of coral bells were hybridized by Dara Emery and introduced by Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. These dainty evergreen perennials are low growing (compared with other coral bells) and spreading in habit, with relatively tall flower stalks in shades of red, pink or pink and white, depending on the cultivar. Use as small-scale groundcovers, in mixed borders, or in containers.Prefers light shade; adapts to all soils; moderate water.  Hardy to at least 25°F.

 

Ken Gilliland

APRIL All Annuals and Bulbs! (various families)
This month, TPF members save on all species and cultivars of annuals and bulbs, including a wide range of spring wild flowers and stunning native bulbs. Among them: such annuals as Clarkia unguiculata (elegant clarkia), Collinsia heterophylla (Chinese houses), Eschscholzia californica (California poppy), Layia platyglossa (tidy tips), Lupinus succulentus (Arroyo lupine, pictured), Salvia carduacea (thistle sage) and S. columbariae (chia); and such bulbs as Brodiaea spp. and cvs. and Triteleia spp. and cvs. Note: Quantities are limited and likely to change during the month.

 

El Nativo Growers

MARCH Chilopsis ‘Burgundy’—Burgundy Desert Willow (Bignoniaceae)
A fast-maturing, easy-to-grow small desert tree with usually multi-trunked, weeping habit; long narrow foliage; and large, fragrant, trumpet-shaped, magenta/burgundy summer into fall flowers. Full to part sun; accepts all soils; drought tolerant to moderate irrigation. Watch for hummingbirds, songbirds and butterflies. Hardy to 15°F.

 

 

 

Ken Gilliland

FEBRUARY Arctostaphylos cruzensis—Arroyo de la Cruz Manzanita (Ericaceae)
A rare and endangered manzanita from coastal Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. Spreads slowly to form a 3’ x 10’ groundcover with dense evergreen foliage and plentiful, small, white winter blossoms. Full sun along the coast, part-sun inland; tolerates clay soil; drought tolerant to occasional water; excellent erosion control. Attracts hummingbirds, songbirds and butterflies. Good container subject. Frost tender.

 

 

JANUARY Constancea (Eriophyllum) nevinii—Catalina Silverlace (Asteraceae)
A rare and endangered Channel Island native. From Theodore Payne’s 1941 catalog: “Grows 2 to 4 feet high, with several stems from near the base forming a plant often 3 or 4 feet across. Beautiful gray finely cut foliage similar to dusty miller of gardens but much finer. Large heads of yellow flowers on long stems well above the foliage. A very striking plant which can be grown in any garden.” Full sun on coast, part-sun inland; tolerates clay; drought tolerant to moderate water; good erosion control. Attracts butterflies, birds and other pollinators. Frost tender.

2016

ceanothus_rayhartman1

Ken Gilliland

DECEMBER Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’—Ray Hartman California Lilac (Rhamnaceae) 
This very adaptable fast-growing shrub reaches 15-20’ high and wide and can be easily trained as a small tree. Evergreen foliage is large, dark and glossy; spring flower clusters are honey scented and medium blue. Thrives in full sun or light shade; tolerates clay soil; drought tolerant but accepts occasional summer irrigation; provides erosion control. Attracts bees, butterflies and birds. Hardy to 15°F.

 

 

salvia_clevelandii_winifred_gilman_01-1

Ken Gilliland

NOVEMBER Salvia clevelandii ‘Winnifred Gilman’—Winnifred Gilman Cleveland Sage (Lamiaceae)
This stunning Cleveland sage hybrid grows quickly to 5’ x 5’ with rounded habit; reddish flowering stems; electric purple blue flowers in late spring/summer; and evergreen, powerfully fragrant gray green foliage. Prefers full sun and fast-draining soil; drought and heat tolerant; good erosion control. Butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and songbirds will visit for nectar, pollen and seed. Hardy to at least 15°F.

 

abutilon_palmeri2

Ken Gilliland

OCTOBER Abutilon palmeri—Indian Mallow (Malvaceae)
TPF staff and certain species of native bees love this tough, fast-growing rounded shrub with soft velvety foliage and inch-wide flowers nearly year round. A local desert native, it is extremely heat tolerant and thrives in most soils but is frost-tender. Cut spent flower stems back to the first set of leaves; seed heads are pretty in floral arrangements. Young plants may require protection from rabbits and other herbivores.

 

 

Eriogonum_arborescens2

Ken Gilliland

 

SEPTEMBER Eriogonum arborescens—Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Polygonaceae)
A compact Channel Islands native to 3’ high by 5’ wide has evergreen gray blue foliage and summer flowers that age from pale pink to chocolate. Though rare in the wild and uncommon in the trade, this easy to grow buckwheat is one of our prettiest shrubs! Attracts many butterflies, other bugs and birds. Full sun; tolerates all soils, drought tolerant to moderate water; excellent erosion control. Hardy to 10°F.

 

450px-Achillea_millefolium_11Gilliland

Ken Gilliland

 

AUGUST Achillea millefolium—Common Yarrow (Asteraceae)
A fast-growing perennial plant with many garden uses—from lawn alternative to low-care ground cover to long-lasting cut flower. Fragrant, feathery evergreen foliage to about 6” high spreads widely on rhizomes. Wiry, spring/summer 2’ high spikes of flat-topped clusters of small white flowers are perfect landing pads for butterflies and visited by many beneficial insects. Full to light shade; moderate to regular water; accepts all soils; good erosion control. Widely distributed throughout California and beyond; hardy to 10,500’.

POM salviabonbon

Matilija Nursery

JULY Salvia ‘Bon Bon’—Bon Bon Sage (Lamiaceae)
This compact sage hybrid —a cross between Salvia clevelandii ‘Aromas’ and Salvia leucophylla ‘Point Sal’—was introduced by Bob Sussman of Matilija Nursery in Moorpark, CA. Evergreen plants reach only 2 ½’ high and wide with fragrant foliage and clusters of blue spring/summer flowers. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds will all visit! Full sun; drought tolerant to occasional irrigation; prefers fast-draining soil; provides erosion control; good choice for containers or mixed beds. Most likely hardy to15°F.

 

Ribes_aureum_gracillimum_17_Ken Gilliland

Ken Gilliland

JUNE Ribes aureum var. gracillimum—Golden Currant (Grossulariaceae)
A showy, fast-growing Los Angeles basin native that sports upright, arching branches to 6’ high and 2’-3’ wide and spreads to form a thicket. Small, bright yellow winter/spring flowers yield colorful edible berries. Drought-tolerant to moderate water; full to part sun; tolerates clay soil; summer deciduous; provides erosion control; hardy to 15°F. Superior bird habitat (pollinated by hummers) and forage source for Cooper and Anglewing butterflies.

 

Dudleya_brittonii_San Marcos Growers

San Marcos Growers

MAY Dudleya brittonii—Britton’s Dudleya, Giant Chalk Dudleya (Crassulaceae)
This beautiful succulent from coastal cliffs of Baja California forms a 12”-18” wide rosette of dusty chalk white leaves, coated with a wax-like substance that imparts one of the highest ultraviolet reflectivity levels of any plant! Yellow spring-into-early summer flowers are borne on upright silvery stems that blush red as the blossoms mature. Plant in a wall crack or angled against a rock; excellent container subject. Drought-tolerant (best with infrequent to no summer water); full sun on the coast, part sun inland; hardy to at least 15°F.

 

Koeleria macrantha_CC_ Bart and Susan Eisenberg

Creative Commons/Bart and Susan Eisenberg

APRIL Koeleria macrantha—Prairie Junegrass (Poaceae)
A widely distributed, perennial cool-season bunchgrass with attractive late spring/summer, tan-to-purplish flower spikes. Tufting 2’ high x 1’ wide plants are especially pretty when planted in masses. Tolerates periodic inundation; excellent choice for rain gardens. Occasional to regular irrigation; full to part sun; accepts all soils; summer dormant; hardy to 0°F. Attracts songbirds and butterflies.

 

 

 

Noah Elhardt/Creative Commons

Noah Elhardt/Creative Commons

MARCH Salvia leucophylla—Purple Sage (Lamiaceae)
This fast-growing, fragrant, often prostrate sage was introduced into cultivation by Theodore Payne, who wrote: “A small shrub with pretty silvery gray, crinkly foliage and large whorls of lilac purple flowers. A profuse bloomer making a glorious effect when in flower on the hillsides.” Semi-evergreen plants reach 6’ high by 8’ wide. Summer blooming; full sun; drought tolerant; hardy to 15°F or less. Excellent erosion control; superior habitat plant.

 

 

Ken Gilliland

Ken Gilliland

FEBRUARY Malacothamnus fasciculatus ‘Casitas’—Casitas Chaparral Bush Mallow (Malvaceae)
A quick-growing upright shrub to 4’-12’ high by 4’-6’ wide with handsome gray stems and foliage, and small, light pink, hollyhock-like summer flowers. Can spread vigorously by underground roots. Full to part sun; accepts clay soil; drought tolerant to moderate water; drought-deciduous; excellent erosion control; hardy to 15°F. Attracts butterflies, birds and native bees!

 

Ribes_speciosum_(13620512185)

Creative Commons/peganum

JANUARY Ribes speciosum—Fuchsia-flowered Gooseberry (Grossulariaceae)
This bristly beauty is sure to attract hummingbirds! Introduced into cultivation by Theodore Payne. In California Native Plants, his 1941 catalog, he wrote: “A very beautiful shrub with arching branches covered in winter with immense quantities of cardinal-red fuchsia-like flowers and dark glossy green foliage. One of the best of the native flowering shrubs.” Plants reach 10’ high by 8’ wide; spreading by underground runners. Full to part sun. Accepts all soils; drought tolerant; summer deciduous; good on slopes; hardy to at least 10°F.

 

2015

Salvia 'Allen Chickering' Photo © Ken Gilliland

Ken Gilliland

DECEMBER Salvia ‘Allen Chickering’– Allen Chickering Sage (Lamiaceae)
This sturdy time-tested hybrid of Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland sage) and S. leucophylla (purple sage) is a profuse bloomer with highly aromatic gray-green foliage. Upright plants grow quickly to 4-5’ x 4-5’ with lavender flowers in spring and summer. Prefers full sun; drought-tolerant to occasional irrigation; accepts clay soil; excellent erosion control; semi-evergreen; hardy to 15°F. Attracts hummingbirds, songbirds, butterflies and bees.

 

 

Ken Gilliland

Ken Gilliland

NOVEMBER Sisyrinchium bellum – Blue-Eyed Grass (Iridaceae)
This compact perennial was introduced into cultivation by Theodore Payne. From California Native Plants, his 1941 catalog: “A charming little plant belonging to the Iris family with light green grass-like foliage and forming clumps often 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The plants grow 8 to 15 inches high and bloom in spring. The flowers are bright blue with yellow centers. Thrives best in heavy soil. Very pretty in borders and rock gardens.” Summer dormant, losing some or all of its leaves. Full sun to part shade; accepts all soils; drought tolerant to moderate irrigation. A widespread Californian from open, generally moist grassy areas and woodlands below 7200’; hardy to at least 0°F.

Ken Gilliland

Ken Gilliland

OCTOBER Aristida purpurea – Purple Three Awn (Poaceae)
A very ornamental warm-season bunchgrass with purple spring/summer seed heads that wave gracefully in the wind. Each clump reaches 2’-3’ wide by 2’ high. Prefers full sun and fast-draining soil; drought tolerant to moderate water; excellent erosion control; hardy to 15°F. Native to southwestern California. Songbirds appreciate the seed; barbed seed heads (awns) can be a problem with pets. It self-sows freely.

 

 

Ceanothus_leucodermis_01

Anthony Valois

SEPTEMBER Ceanothus leucodermis Chaparral Whitethorn (Rhamnaceae)
A remarkably beautiful evergreen shrub noted for its pale-colored bark and generous spring color. Introduced into cultivation by Theodore Payne. From his 1941 catalog: “A spreading bush 5 to 12 feet high with somewhat arching branches and glaucous stems and foliage. Flowers in medium sized spikes, pale smokey blue, sometimes white. Flowering period March to May. Found in foothills and mountains up to 5,000 feet elevation.” Prefers full sun and fast-draining soil but will grow in clay; drought tolerant; great on slopes; evergreen; hardy to 15°F. A Local Source Initiative offering.

 

Michael W. Tuma

Michael W. Tuma

AUGUST Diplacus (Mimulus) aurantiacus – Sticky Monkeyflower (Phrymaceae, formerly in Scrophulariaceae)
This hummingbird favorite is also a forage source for Common Checkerspot and Buckeye butterflies. Introduced into cultivation by Theodore Payne. From Mr. Payne’s 1941 catalog: “Small shrub 2 to 4 feet high, found growing on many hillsides and flowering profusely in late spring and early summer, when the plants are covered with masses of large buff or salmon-colored blossoms which resemble an azalea in shape. If watered the plants have a long season of bloom.” Full sun to part shade; tolerates heavy soils; low to occasional water; semi-deciduous; hardy to 15°F. A Local Source Initiative offering.

Ken Gilliland

Ken Gilliland

JULY Keckiella cordifolia – Heart-leaved Penstemon (Plantaginaceae, formerly in Scrophulariaceae)
A central and southern California beauty with spring/summer blossoms that hummingbirds adore. From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne’s 1941 catalog: “A sprawling shrub or climber, reaching a height of 6 to 8 feet. Often found clambering over other shrubs or trailing over banks. Leaves heart-shaped, glossy green resembling those of the garden fuchsia. Flowers large, brilliant orange scarlet.” Moderate to low water; full sun on the coast to part-shade inland; accepts clay soil; summer deciduous; cold hardy (one source states to -5°F). A Local Source Initiative offering.

P 12_Artemisia californica_Tim Becker

Tim Becker

JUNE Artemisia californica – California Sagebrush (Asteraceae)
This widespread native shrub lends its distinctive sweet scent to our local coastal sage scrub and chaparral plant communities. Loose, upright stems to 3-4’ high by 4’ wide sport small, silvery grey-green, very aromatic foliage and small yellowish summer flowers. Fast growing; accepts full sun or light shade and most soils; very drought tolerant. Supports many bird and insect species. Excellent erosion control. Hardy to 15°F.

 


P 12 _Festuca occidentalis_Tim Becker

Tim Becker

MAY Festuca occidentalis – Western Fescue (Poaceae)
Add texture and movement to the garden with this pretty, narrow-leafed cool-season bunchgrass that thrives in lightly shaded spots. Plants grow rapidly to 3’ high by 2’ wide; spring seed heads attract butterflies and birds. Accepts most soils; moderate water; good erosion control. Recommended for slopes and under pines or redwoods; attractive container plant. Hardy to 15°F.

 


P 12_Arcto. 'Hazard Canyon'_Tim Becker

Tim Becker

APRIL Arctostaphylos morroensis ‘Hazard Canyon’ – Hazard Canyon Manzanita (Ericaceae)
This uncommon manzanita selection mounds slowly to 6’ tall and 10-12’ wide with evergreen foliage and peeling bronze bark. White to pale pink winter flowers provide food for hummingbirds. Prefers good drainage; full sun along the coast, afternoon shade inland; drought tolerant, once established. Deep slope-holding roots. Hardy to 15° F.


 

Creative Commons/Bouba

Creative Commons/Bouba

MARCH Eschscholzia californica – California Poppy (Papaveraceae)
Our State flower belongs in every native garden. Sun-loving, deep-rooted, free-blooming and unparticular about soil, this golden orange annual was featured on the cover of Theodore Payne’s first catalog of California Native Flower Seeds, published 1906. Plants are fast growing to 1-2’ high and 1’ wide. Full sun; drought-tolerant; attracts bees and other beneficial insects. Hardy to 20°F.


 

Tim Becker

Tim Becker

FEBRUARY Festuca idahoensis ‘Moody Blue’ – Moody Blue Idaho Fescue (Poaceae)
A compact cool-season bunchgrass (to 1’ x 1’) with beautiful, narrow gray-blue foliage and pretty spring seed heads. Use as an accent, in masses or in containers. Full sun along the coast; part shade inland; drought tolerant to moderate irrigation. Naturally summer dormant but evergreen with occasional summer water. Good erosion control; bird- and butterfly-friendly. Hardy to 25°F.

 


P 12 POM_Arcto 'St Helena'_1.

Tim Becker

JANUARY Arctostaphylos manzanita ‘St Helena’ – St. Helena Common Manzanita (Ericaceae)
A relatively fast-growing manzanita selected for its gray-green foliage, disease resistance and beautiful tree-like habit. Mature plants reach 10 by 10 feet with smooth cinnamon-red bark. Winter/spring flowers are urn-shaped, white, borne in profusion and a food source for hummingbirds and other wildlife. Prefers full sun and fast-draining soil; very drought tolerant. Handsome container plant. Hardy to 10°F.

 

 

2014

Flora Ito

Flora Ito

DECEMBER Salvia mellifera ‘Jade Carpet’ – Jade Carpet Black Sage (Lamiaceae)
A low mounding groundcover that grows rapidly to 1-2’ high and 6’ wide with aromatic green foliage and pale lavender spring-into-summer flowers. Accepts full to part sun; prefers moderate irrigation and fast-draining soil; excellent erosion control; attracts birds, butterflies and native bees. Leaves can be used in the kitchen. Hardy to 25°F.

 


 

Sedum_stenopetalum0

Creative Commons/Kurt Stüber

NOVEMBER Sedum stenopetalum – Narrow-leaf Stonecrop (Crassulaceae)
This pretty succulent groundcover stays low at 2” high by 12” wide with tiny bright green leaves and star-shaped yellow blossoms in late spring and early summer. Best with afternoon shade, moderate water and fast draining soil. Moderate growth rate; good container plant; supports butterflies and hummingbirds. Hardy to 0°F.

 


 

P12_C Yankee Pt_oregonstate

Oregon State University

OCTOBER Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. griseus ‘Yankee Point’ – Yankee Point California Lilac (Rhamnaceae)
A fast-growing large-scale groundcover, this venerable selection is one of the easiest and most popular California natives in cultivation and much-admired for its dark, shiny evergreen foliage and early spring clusters of fragrant pale blue flowers. Give transplants lot of space – each one will grow 2-3’ high and 10-12’ wide! Tolerates heat, drought and heavy soils; full sun to light shade; excellent erosion control; attracts songbirds, hummers, butterflies and other wildlife. Hardy to 20°F.


 

Courtesy of San Marcos Growers

Courtesy of San Marcos Growers

SEPTEMBER Muhlenberia rigens – Deergrass (Poaceae)
Every native garden should have deergrass – elegant, adaptable and sturdy, it rewards the grower with a neat, rounded 2’ by 4’ habit and graceful 6’ tall inflorescences that explode from the mound like summer fireworks. Full sun to part shade; drought tolerant to regular water, accepts clay soil; hardy to 15° F. Excellent erosion control; seeds attract birds.


 

POMs Monardella 'Russian River' 2

Madena Asbell

AUGUST Monardella villosa ‘Russian River’ – Russian River Coyote Mint (Lamiaceae) Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds all enjoy the lavender-purple spring and summer flowers of this low, mounding evergreen perennial with pleasantly aromatic foliage. Plants reach 2’ high by 3’ wide at maturity. Full sun to part shade; fast drainage preferred; drought tolerant to moderate irrigation. Good choice for dry shade under trees and container culture. Frost tender.

 


Creative Commons/Charles Jones

Creative Commons/Charles Jones

JULY Asclepias fascicularis – Narrow-leaf Milkweed (Asclepiadaceae)
Our Western population of monarch butterflies evolved with A. fascicularis and other native milkweeds. This easy-to-grow species quickly forms a colony of upright 3’-4’ stems with pale green leaves for monarch larvae and clusters of beautiful white-to-pink flowers for adult monarchs, other butterflies and many other insects. Full sun to light shade; adapts to most soils; moderate water. Winter dormant.

 


Creative Commons/Luigi Rignanese

Creative Commons/Luigi Rignanese

JUNE Ceanothus thryrsiflorus var. thyrsiflorus – Blueblossom (Rhamnaceae)
From Theodore Payne’s 1941 catalog: “A large dense growing shrub 8 to 12 feet high with dark green foliage. The flowers are bright blue to deep blue, produced in great profusion from March to May. This was the first of the California lilacs to be brought under cultivation and is one of the most valuable for general purposes. Very attractive as single specimens, in groups or for planting against a wall. Very easy to grow and will stand ordinary garden culture.” Prefers full sun on the coast, part shade inland; accepts most soils; drought tolerant to occasional irrigation; frost tender.


Penn State University

Penn State University

MAY Juncus tenuis ‘Blue Dart’ – Blue Dart Slender Rush (Juncaceae)
This eye-catching, evergreen grass-like plant sports upright blue-green foliage to 2’ high and spreading on rhizomes, and interesting brown summer flowers. Use around bird baths and water features; great container plant. Full sun to part shade; tolerates heavy soil; regular to high water; hardy to 15°F.

 

 


800px-Berberis_repens_'rotundifolia'

Creative Commons/Denis Prévôt

APRIL Berberis aquifolium var. repens – Creeping Barberry (Berberidaceae)
An excellent ground cover for dry shade, including under trees. Evergreen plants spread slowly to 2 1/2’ high and 3’-5’ wide with wonderful purplish fall color, bright yellow spring flowers and beautiful blue berries that attract songbirds and quail. Shade to part sun; prefers good drainage but will tolerate clay; drought tolerant to moderate irrigation; hardy to 15°F.


 

Berberis fremontii

Ken Gilliland

MARCH Berberis fremontii – Fremont Barberry, Desert Barberry (Berberidaceae)
This drought-tolerant evergreen shrub grows slowly to 6-10’ high by 6’ wide and can be used as a barrier plant – thanks to its beautiful, very spiny leaves in shades of green, blue and pink. Bright yellow spring flowers are followed by yellow wildlife-attracting berries. Prefers full sun and fast-draining soil; some say it is deer proof (but no guarantees).

 


Festuca 'Stony Creek'-2 FEBRUARY Festuca idahoensis ‘Stony Creek’ – Stony Creek Idaho Fescue (Poaceae)
A 2’ x 2’ chalk-blue bunchgrass for borders, between shrubs, under trees or in containers. This selection is fast growing and easy with attractive tan seed heads. Tolerates most soils; full sun on the coast, afternoon shade inland; drought-tolerant along the coast, moderate irrigation inland; hardy to 15°F.


Zauschneria 'Sierra Salmon' whole 2

Bart O’Brien

JANUARY Epilobium (Zauschneria) ‘Sierra Salmon’— Sierra Salmon California Fuchsia (Onagraceae)
Add warm-season color to your native garden and ensure that hummingbirds are well-fed! This fast-growing perennial is low and spreading to 1-3’ high and wide with pale salmon tubular flowers in late summer and fall. Accepts most soils; full sun to light shade; drought-tolerant to moderate irrigation; hardy to 10°F. Excellent erosion control; great under mature trees, in mixed beds and in containers.