Plant Feature: California Native

Agave

Genus: Agavae

This succulent shrub features a tight rosette of fleshy leaves. Many agave varieties are available with differences in leaf color some of which can be variegated. There are also significant size differences between varieties. Agaves do well in very low water situations. Agaves feature stunning leaf arrangements and dramatic forms that can lend a modern minimalist feel to a gardenscape.

California Fan Palm

Genus: Washingtonia Filifera

This is the only palm that is native to California. It also appears in other parts of the Western US. It is found clustering in spring-fed oases in desert areas. The palm grows to a height of 50 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet. The evergreen fan-shaped leaves can extend 15 feet in diameter. The palm fronds have fibrous threads at leaf segments. Spent leaves do not drop naturally. They form a light brown skirt below the green fronds. California fan palms produce edible fruit (not dates) which grows in clusters.

California Lilac

Genus: Ceanothus

These evergreen shrubs are native to California and tolerant of very little water in the summer. They work well in gardens as hedges and as a backdrop to lower plantings. California lilacs have small clusters of fragrant and attractive flowers in the spring. California lilacs can become quite large, growing to the height of a tree and expanding to a girth of five feet. Avoid planting California Lilac if you have a problem with deer.

California Poppy

Genus: Eschscholzia Californica

These poppies do best in naturalized settings and combined with plantings that can take center stage when the poppies become scraggly in late summer. Orange poppies naturally appear in California grasslands. The blooms close at night and in very hot weather. The flowers are particularly striking when they bloom alongside purple lupine. The plants do not transplant well and do best when started from seeds. In subsequent years the plants are self sowing.

Manzanita

Genus: Arctostaphylos

As an evergreen California native plant with strong visual interest, it is unfortunate that Manzanitas are not used more frequently in our gardenscapes. Manzanitas can be grown either as a shrubs or small trees. The twisting growth habit and distinctive red color of the limbs makes Manzanita excellent focal points. The plants attract butterflies and birds (including hummingbirds). Manzanita look great in rock gardens and do very well with little water once established. California gardeners will want to consider a variety that does well with local soil conditions.

Matillija Poppy

Genus: Romneya

The very large plants produce stunning flowers but they do not work well for gardens with space constraints. Matillijas produce the largest flowers of any poppy. Blossoms be six inches in width or even larger. Blooms appear in early summer and have a crepe paper appearance. It can take some effort to establish matillija poppies. Once the plants take hold they can extend via underground roots. This characteristic can make matillija poppies a good choice for hillside erosion control.

Redbud

Genus: Cercis Occidentalis

This small deciduous trees or large shrub is noted for its profusion of attractive pink spring flowers. Leafing takes place after flowering. The stems for new growth are deep red and branching takes on appealing forms. The California redbud is characterized by magenta seed pods in the summer and fall color. Redbuds are drought tolerant but can also do well near stream beds.

Yucca

Genus: Yucca

There are many varieties of yucca. Some reach are tree height while others perform as shrubs. Most yuccas are native to the Americas and some are varieties are native to California. Yuccas can serve as a dramatic garden focal point. They require little water and care. The sword shaped leaves are often silvery gray. Some varieties have variegated leaves. Yuccas look great in gardens with a spanish feel and alongside succulents in rock gardens. Most yuccas feature white spring blooms.