Native zones, exposure, soil, and care
Suitable microclimates for the most garden-worthy California native plants include Zones 9-11. However, your sustainable garden can also succeed in other microclimates, including Zone 8. And you always have the option to brighten up your outdoor space with seasonal containers.
Although different kinds of exposure suit different species, full sun is the exposure preference for most California natives.
Most natives adapt to soils that range from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline
. However, well-drained soils work best for your native-rich sustainable garden.
Despite their low-maintenance care, natives still demand seasonal attention and grooming to continue looking their best. Regular care for various types of natives depends on individual requirements. However, some do better with no summer watering.
Top 12 native California plants:
- Point Reyes meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii ssp. sulphurea)
- woolly bluecurls (Trichostema lanatum)
- bush anemone (Carpenteria californica)
- island alumroot (Heuchera maxima)
- canyon snow iris (Iris douglasiana)
- bush sunflower (Encelia californica)
- monkey’s hand tree (X Chiranthofremontia lenzii “Griff’s Wonder”)
- bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
- wild rose (Rosa woodsii ssp. ultramontana)
- hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea)
- silver cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa)
- blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)
Plant natives during the fall or early winter for a healthy root system that prepares your garden for new growth and blossoming during the spring and summer. Since natives are already well adapted to the San Francisco area, there’s no need for soil amendments.
Water your natives regularly until your garden is established. Lower your water frequency after a year and check each plant’s specific water needs. And always respond to the weather. After the rain, give your watering a break. During a dry spell, crank your watering back up again.
Natives bloom at different times, some during the warmer seasons and others during the cooler temperatures. For the best sustainable garden, select at least one native that blooms in the spring, summer, fall, and winter so that your outdoor space remains gorgeous year-round.