Gardening with California Native Plants
California native plants are unlike any other in the world. From the richly colored expanse of spring wildflowers in the desert to groves of Monterey cypress on the coast, California’s wild gardens are immensely diverse and awe-inspiring in their beauty. They define the landscape and offer Californians a sense of place, pride and stability, and they provide habitat for endemic wildlife species that exist no place else on earth.
While California’s native plants have graced gardens worldwide for over a century, few of the landscapes designed for our state’s gardens reflect the natural splendor for which California is famous. California Native Plant Society (CNPS) teaches that by gardening with native plants, you can bring the beauty of California into your own landscape, creating a sense of place that is uniquely Californian and helps to save water.
Native vs. Non Native
‘Exotic’ non native plants can thrive in California’s renowned climate, however, not without overcoming certain conditions with fertilizer, water, and constant care. Exotics grouped into the category of ‘Mediterranean’ plants are indeed a viable options for a water-wise landscape because of their adaptable characteristic to climates similar to California’s floristic province, however, they still do not match up to the benefits of California native plant. Native plants are perfectly in sync with our soil, climate, and wildlife making them a holistically sustainable choice. Native plants and the crucial resources we are working so hard to conserve are essentially ‘made for eachother’ and can thrive naturally
Native Plants Save Water!
Replacing water-consuming, high-maintenance, traditional landscapes and lawn with California native plants can reduce the average homeowner’s water consumption by 60% according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. California studies combining California native plants with water-wise landscapes that include rain gardens, swales, and other drainage-control techniques found even higher irrigation savings. Once established, native plants can withstand little or no watering even in extreme drought conditions.
The benefits don’t stop there…
Pollinator Conservation– native pollinators are most effective and thrive best in native plant habitats. Native plants provide urban corridors between natural and agricultural areas
Lower Maintenance– In a garden environment, native plants do best with some attention and care, but require less water, fertilizer and pruning, and less of your time to maintain. Spend your time enjoying your garden not mowing, blowing, or hedging away.
Reduce Pesticides– Native plants have developed their own defenses against many pests and diseases. Since most pesticides kill indiscriminately, beneficial insects become secondary targets in the fight against pests. Reducing or eliminating pesticide use lets natural pest control take over and keeps garden toxins out of our creeks and watersheds.
Invite Wildlife– Native plants create a habitat not only for pollinators but for other wildlife such as birds and other beneficial insects. California’s variety of native insects and birds will help keep your landscape free of mosquitoes and plant-eating bugs. Native plants bring nature into your home garden and restore our environment.
Support Local Ecology– While creating native landscapes can never replace natural habitats lost to development, planting gardens and parks with California native plants can help provide an important bridge to nearby remaining wild areas.
Other important tips
Save Your Trees– More than 12 million trees have died in California because of the drought. Urban trees most affected are those growing in lawns and other spaces targeted for low or no watering. Learn how to save your trees from drought stress.
Water Harvesting– For information on how to capture the water on your landscape, use water efficiently, and take maximum advantage of rainfall.
Ditch Your Lawn– The average 1,000 square foot lawn requires 30,000 gallons of water per year! Save water during the drought by replacing your thirsty lawn with native plants.