Plant of the Month
Each month we feature a different native plant species or cultivar and offer it at a 20% discount to all.
DECEMBER Lonicera spp. — Honeysuckle, Twinberry (Caprifoliaceae) The honeysuckle side of this genus are drought-tolerant, vine-like shrubs with pink or pale yellow, softly fragrant, flowers that are great for hummingbirds, followed by red berries that provide food for songbirds. They will climb with guided support. The twinberry side is a fast growing shrub with both lush green leaves and showy yellow-red flowers, but prefers moist soil.
NOVEMBER Arctostaphylos spp. and cvs.—Manzanita (Ericaceae) Wide variety of sizes and shapes among the shrub and groundcover species and cultivars of this genus. Winter/spring bell-shaped blooms ranging from white to pink, followed by berries in hues of oranges and reds.
OCTOBER Adenostoma spp. and cvs.—Chamise, Redshanks (Rosaceae) Members of this genus are attractive, drought-tolerant, low-maintenance shrubs or small trees. Chamise has beautiful red bark and rosemary-like foliage. White flowers bloom in summer. Highly resinous–not recommended for fire-prone areas.
SEPTEMBER Bouteloua gracilis—Blue Gramma (Poaceae) An ornamental grass for perennial borders, meadows, or in containers. It also makes an excellent drought tolerant lawn substitute. Seed heads resemble small flags with an eyelash shape. To 1’h x 2′ w; hardy to 15F.
AUGUST Trichostema lanatum—Woolly Blue Curls (Lamiaceae) Native to Santa Monica and Verdugo Mtns. Wonderful sweet-scented flowers and foliage; a hummingbird favorite. Plant in dry, well-drained area. No summer water once established!! To 4’h x 4′ w; hardy to 15F.
JULY Frangula californica ‘Eve Case’—Eve Case California Coffeeberry (Rhamnaceae) Smaller and more compact than the species. Makes an excellent informal screen or clipped hedge. Berries are attractive (but not edible) turning from red to purple to black. Leaves are a forage source for the pale swallowtail butterfly. To 6’h x 6′ w; hardy to 15F.
JUNE Romneya coulteri—Matilija Poppy (Papaveraceae) One of California’s most spectacular and best-known flowers, this rare plant is known as the “fried-egg flower” for its huge white and yellow blooms. Once established, it can spread over a large area. Can be invasive. To 8’h x 20′ w; hardy to 15F.
MAY Chilopsis linearis ssp. arcuata ‘Burgundy’—Burgundy Desert Willow (Bignoniaceae) Dark pink-red flowers in early to mid-summer. Like the species, it is drought-tolerant once established but tolerates moderate summer water. Provides dappled shade in summer and light and warmth in winter. A fast, 15’-20’ tree hardy to 15F.
FEBRUARY Diplacus ‘Trish’—Trish Monkeyflower (Phyrmaceae) Expect many months of color, especially in spring and fall, on this rounded, evergreen, 2′ x 2′ subshrub. Hummingbirds are guaranteed visitors. Full sun to light shade; drought tolerant; fast drainage preferred. Hardy to 20°F.
JANUARY Hesperoyucca (Yucca) whipplei—Chaparral Yucca (Agavaceae) This local succulent makes a dramatic statement in the ground or in a pot! Rounded shape to 3′ wide with long, bluish, spine-tipped leaves. In time, each plant produces a tall spike with hundreds of creamy white flowers. Important habitat plant for the California thrasher and California yucca moth; deer resistant. Full sun; tolerates heat and drought; fast-draining soil. Hardy to 25°F
DECEMBER Brickellia californica—California Brickellbush (Asteraceae) Use this spreading shrub (to 4′ H by 3-6′ W) for its foliar fragrance and to attract birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Introduced into cultivation by Theodore Payne. From California Native Plants, his 1941 catalog: “Throws up many stems from a shrubby base, forming a bushy plant…with somewhat triangular or slightly cordate leaves and many small insignificant flowers. Not desirable for its appearance but for the delicious fragrance which it imparts to the air on summer evenings. One or two plants will perfume the whole garden. Gallon cans, 50c.” Full to part sun; all soils; low to moderate irrigation; winter deciduous. Hardy to 25°F.
NOVEMBER Frangula californica ‘Leatherleaf’—Leatherleaf Coffeeberry (Rhamnaceae) A durable evergreen shrub with inconspicuous whitish, pale yellow, spring/summer flowers, followed by attractive red (but not edible) fall berries that resemble coffee beans. Full sun to shade; adapts to most soils; drought tolerant to occasional irrigation. Attracts butterflies (including pale swallowtail) and birds.
OCTOBER Ceanothus ‘Joyce Coulter’—Joyce Coulter Ceanothus (Rhamnaceae) A reliable, fast-growing groundcover (2-3′ high by 6-8′ wide) for inland or coastal gardens. Evergreen foliage contrasts brightly with honey-scented spring blossoms. Full sun; tolerates heavy soil; infrequent to moderate water. Attracts birds and butterflies; excellent erosion control.
SEPTEMBER Asclepias fascicularis—Narrow-leaf Milkweed (Apocynaceae) Want monarchs? Plant this beautiful flowering perennial with pale pink blossoms from late spring through fall, and thin erect stems that spread to form a colony. This species and other California milkweeds are larval hosts for both monarch and striated queen caterpillars. Full sun; accepts all soils; drought- and heat-tolerant; winter deciduous (the plant dies back completely).
JULY Baccharis spp. and cvs.—Coyote Brush, etc. (Asteraceae) Members of this adaptable genus range from upright shrubs to spreading ground covers, all with small foliage and white to cream flowers that attract a wide array of insects, including important pollinators. Full sun; soil requirements vary by species; all accept heat and drought; superior erosion control. Pictured: B. pilularis ssp. pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’, a durable ground cover.
JUNE Salvia clevelandii and cvs.—Cleveland Sage and cultivars (Lamiaceae) Cleveland sage and its many horticultural selections are revered for fast growth, neat habits, potent perfumes, and colorful flowers that vary from pale to deep purple with blue overtones. All Cleveland sages attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds. Full sun; some will grow in clay; drought- and heat-tolerant. About S. clevelandii, from Theodore Payne’s 1941 catalog: “A charming little shrub from San Diego County…Very showy, blooming profusely in early summer. Both flowers and foliage delightfully fragrant even after drying.” Pictured: Salvia clevelandii ‘Aromas’
MAY Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and cvs.—Bearberry or Kinnikinnick and cultivars (Ericaceae) This mat-forming manzanita and its many horticultural selections all cascade beautifully over rocks and walls, or will fill a wide space with shiny evergreen foliage and white to light pink winter/spring flowers, followed by bright red fruit. All prefer fast drainage; the cultivar ‘Radiant’ is most tolerant of heavy soil; full sun on the coast, part shade inland; occasional to moderate water. Attractive to hummingbirds, songbirds and many insects. Hardy to 10-15°F.
APRIL Atriplex canescens—Four-winged Saltbush or Shad-scale (Chenopodiaceae) This evergreen heat-loving shrub grows quickly to 4′-8′ high and wide with narrow gray green foliage. Female plants bear yellow-green fall flowers and interesting fruit with four wings at 90° angles. Some say the fruiting stem resembles a mass of corn flakes! Useful as a hedge or screen. Tolerates all soils, including sandy, clayey, salty or alkaline; full sun; very drought tolerant. A very inviting bird plant, it also attracts native bees and butterflies. Hardy to 10°F.
MARCH Ceanothus maritimus ‘Valley Violet’—Valley Violet Maritime Ceanothus (Rhamnaceae) Easy and colorful! This UC Davis Arboretum All Star is a compact 2-3′ high by 3-4′ shrub with rugged evergreen foliage and generous clusters of deep lavender spring flowers. Use as an accent, groundcover or container specimen. Full to part sun; prefers good drainage but will grow in heavy soils; drought tolerant. Attracts bees, butterflies and other insects. Hardy to 15°F.
FEBRUARY Platanus racemosa—Western Sycamore (Platanaceae) Our native sycamore is nothing less than one of the planet’s most beautiful trees. Plant it where there is space: this fast-growing riparian giant will grow to 80′ high and 30′ wide! Unique qualities include huge divided leaves; muscular trunks; and gorgeous, peeling silver and brown bark. Adapts to all soils; full sun; moderate to regular water; winter deciduous. Important habitat plant and a larval food source for the Western tiger swallowtail butterfly. Hardy to 15 F.
JANUARY Encelia ventorum—Baja Bush Sunflower (Asteraceae) This uncommon, easy-to-grow shrub from Baja California grows quickly to 3′-5′ high and wide with dense evergreen foliage. Bright yellow, 1 A?”-wide flowers are most plentiful in spring and summer and sure to attract butterflies, bees and birds. Use singly or as an informal screen. Adapts to all soils; full sun preferred; drought tolerant, once established. Hardy to 25 F.
DECEMBER Dudleya caespitosa—Sea Lettuce, Coast Dudleya (Crassulaceae) A charming succulent from sea bluffs of our Central and Southern coasts and northern Channel Islands. Gray green leaves form 1′ x 1′ rosettes. Yellow spring/summer flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Beautiful in the garden or a container, especially when accented with rocks. Needs fast-draining soil; sun on the coast and part shade inland; drought tolerant. Frost tender.
NOVEMBER Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita BOP’—Margarita BOP Foothill Penstemon (Plantaginaceae) For many good reasons, this perennial is one of the most popular native plants in the trade. Tidy mats reach 1-2′ high x 2-3′ wide, with dark evergreen foliage and spring/summer masses of blue violet flowers. Use in borders, mixed beds or containers. Adapts to all soils; full to part sun; drought tolerant. Sure to attract bumblebees, birds and other pollinators. Hardy to 10 F.
OCTOBER Asclepias spp.—Milkweed species (Apocynaceae) This month, our entire stock of native Asclepias is discounted to members, including (subject to availability): Asclepias fascicularis (narrow-leaf milkweed, pictured), A. eriocarpa(kotolo or Indian milkweed, A. speciosa (showy milkweed), and A. subulata (ajamete or rush milkweed). For details, see our nursery placards or online California Native Plant Database. Plant these and monarchs will come!
SEPTEMBER Eriogonum fasciculatum ‘Warriner Lytle’—Warriner Lytle California Buckwheat (Polygonaceae) This easy-to-grow groundcover is a prostrate selection of California buckwheat introduced by the Theodore Payne Foundation and named for one of our dedicated volunteers. Low spreading plants quickly reach 2’ high by 4’-5’ wide, with small dark evergreen foliage and white to pink-aging to chocolate summer flowers that are nectar and forage sources for many different butterflies, especially Blues. Adapts to all soils; drought-tolerant to occasional irrigation; great for slopes; excellent bird habitat. Hardy to 25°F.
AUGUST Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’—Pigeon Point Dwarf Coyote Brush (Asteraceae) This tough groundcover is one of our biggest sellers. Gardeners appreciate its light green year-round foliage and simple cream-colored flowers that attract and support a huge variety of insects. Great for mass plantings where the lawn is gone! Mature dimensions are 1’-2’ tall by 8’-10’ wide. Accepts all soils; drought- and heat-tolerant; excellent erosion control and bird habitat. Hardy to 15°F.
JULY Salvia leucophylla ‘Pt. Sal’—Pt. Sal Purple Sage (Lamiaceae) A beautiful, tough, heat-loving groundcover that spreads quickly to 2’ high by 6’-8’ or more wide, with fragrant gray foliage and spring/summer clusters of lavender flowers. This coastal bluff native offers superior erosion control and excellent bird and butterfly habitat. Full sun; tolerates clay soil; drought tolerant; semi-evergreen (may drop some leaves in summer). Frost tender but has survived lower temperatures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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 to 15°F.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.