Nurseries with Natives

Gardener’s Corner | Questions and Answers with Local Experts 

By Dan Songster, 2011 September

This column is a regular newsletter feature offering chapter members and local experts a chance to briefly share information on many things related to gardening with natives. This Issue’s question was “What are some of your favorite nurseries that supply at least some natives—near or far?”

Susan Krzywicki-“Las Pilitas, in Escondido is a wonderful natural site – hills up and beyond the nursery. They sell only natives! And their website,, is fabulous for its generous sharing of information.  Also Moosa Creek ( is a native plant grower—and they work with local nurseries to put natives on display with a store within the nursery that is well-branded and a good resource. If your local nursery would like to offer natives, this is a good way for them to get started.” – [Ed. Note: Las Pilitas at Escondido no longer exists. The original nursery at Santa Margarita and a mail order business do still offer a wide variety of native plants.]

Charles (Chuck) Wright-“Shop local if you can and for me that means Tree of Life.  But in the mountains there is a lovely little nursery in Lebec called Wild at Heart, and Linda carries quite a few natives and she will gladly order whatever you need, which sure beats driving to Las Pilitas near San Luis Obispo. I’ve especially enjoyed shopping at CNPS sales both here and in Bakersfield. Now there are places where you can collect seeds and I find that this is the best way to go since you know what it is and where it came from. I’ve purchased seed from Theodore Payne and planted Jeffery Pine that I bought there. The help there is outstanding, much better than on-line or catalog. Celia has helped me pick appropriate stuff for the mountain place and so have the folks at Tree of Life.  You get what you pay for.”

Barbara Eisenstein-“There are not that many nurseries that sell and are knowledgeable about CA native plants. Of course Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s Grow Native Nurseries (Claremont from Nov – May and the new Westwood branch open all year [ed. note: Westwood branch closed]) are my favorites since I have lovingly labeled, selected, helped grow, and worked with these plants and the people buying them. The other nursery I would highly encourage people to check out is Nopalito Native Plant Nursery in Ventura ( Though not exclusively native plants, the selection is great, the staff helpful and the blog and classes fun. Check it out. Of course there are many other wonderful native plant nurseries and plant sales (like those held by CNPS chapters). Note:Barabara Eisenstein concluded with this, “I posted a more comprehensive list of plant sales and wholesale and retail nurseries on my WeedingWildSuburbiawebsite (”

Dan Songster-“Even after traveling the state and seeing many of the nurseries that sell natives, I am still impressed with Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano. Owners Mike Evans and Jeff Bohn have surrounded themselves with a great group of people, in a wonderful setting, with healthy plants. There is always something new there and I always feel better after visiting the nursery. The Grow Native Nursery at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont is also fun with the unexpected here and there and such a wide range of plants. It is also nice to know your money is going towards supporting the Botanic Garden.”

Christiane Shannon-“The foremost place from which I buy the native plants for my garden is Tree of Life Nursery on Ortega Hwy. Sometimes I go to Rancho Santa Anna Botanic Garden in Claremont, however there is a lot of pushing and shoving during the fall plant sale there, while at TOL the atmosphere is always pleasant and even more so when volunteers from OCCNPS are helping on the day of the big fall plant sale.”

Dick Newell-“Is there another other than T.O.L.?”

Halli Mason-“West Valley Nursery on Ventura Blvd., in Tarzana; limited supply of good looking healthy plants; John will get whatever he has not in his nursery. Sperling Nursery in Calabasas; limited supply of good looking healthy plants. Both nurseries are in the San Fernando Valley of the Los Angeles area.”

Alan Lindsay-“When I shop for a plant, I’m usually looking for something specific and unique. Therefore, I first try the Tree Of Life Nursery because of its diversity, quantity and quality. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, I turn to Santa Barbara and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens. A long time ago I shopped at the Fullerton Arboretum; I should give them another try.”

Celia Kutcher-Tree Of Life, of course!”


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