Restoring nature, one garden at a time

California lilac ‘Frosty Blue’ © Susan Libonati-Barnes

California Native Plants in the Garden

California is rich in native plants. With so many species to choose from, the possibilities of what to grow may seem endless.

Growing native plants in our gardens uses less water and supports more wildlife.  As water restrictions increase throughout the West, drought-tolerant plants are becoming more popular.  Drought-tolerant native plants can endure extended periods without water, but they still need to get some water.

In addition to drought tolerance, native plants have evolved to defend themselves against attacks by insects.  Insects, in turn, have evolved to get past those defenses.  Both plants and insects continue to evolve and our native birds evolve with them.

Many birds rely on insects to feed their young.  Introduced non-native plants do not support our local insects, but our birds need those insects.  Native plants, especially oaks and willows, support a wide variety of caterpillars that birds rely on to feed their nestlings.  (And that takes a lot of caterpillars!)

If half of American lawns were replaced with native plants, we would create the equivalent of a 20 million-acre national park, nine times bigger than Yellowstone, or 100 times bigger than Shenandoah National Park. –Doug Tallamy

Gardening with native plants is not complicated.  Whether you want to simply dabble in native plant gardening by adding a few species to your established garden, or you’re planning an entire conversion to native plants, the following pages will help you to consider the most important aspects of including California natives in the garden.  Here we help you think about plant size, plant color and texture, attraction value to pollinators and wildlife, water usage, and maintenance.

I am a gardener.  What’s your superpower? –Empress of Dirt

Western bistort, Bistorta bistortoides, with pollinator on June 18, 2020 © Jay Thesken


Check our select book inventory

Wildlife-friendly plants © Steven T. Callan

Shasta Chapter Gardening Resources

Douglas Iris, Iris douglasiana, blooming in March in Susan’s native plant garden © Susan Libonati-Barnes

Good Native Plants for the Shasta Chapter Region (Coming soon!)

Learn what native plants grow well here!

A selection of quart plants getting ready for the fall sale: Santa Barbara sedge in the foreground, with yarrow, mountain mahogany, and coast buckwheat–all grown from seed © Margaret Widdowson

Purchasing Native Plants

First stop: Shasta Chapter Nursery!