Plant of the Month

This year we are featuring a California Native Plant each month.

For June

Calscape: Restore Nature One Garden at a Time

Instead of sharing a California native plant at the June meeting, I’m sharing a website that will really help anyone who wants to be more “California-friendly” in the garden. This is a website I have used on many occasions. Just recently I took the time to peruse all the features and I was amazed at all the helpful information. I just had to share with my garden friends!

Here are the easy steps:

1. Go to calscape.org

2. Notice there are two ways to search—either by a plant name, in the upper righthand corner, or by ZIP code, in the center.

3. If you search by ZIP code, there will be a display of all the plants for your area, all arranged in categories.

4. You choose a category to narrow your search, then look at plants by name and picture.

5. When you click on the plant name, the next page will show pictures, maps and important facts like Plant Description, Natural Setting, and Landscape Information. One of the best topics is Companion Plants under the Natural Setting description. This can guide gardeners as to which plants grow well together.

6. There are two other features—you can create your own plant list (one of the categories when you search by ZIP) on the site by registering and creating a
password. There is also an Advanced Search feature to really specify what you are looking for.

This web site is sponsored by the California Native Plant Society. It is easy to navigate, chock full of useful information for novices and experts. Please give it a try! Happy California Native Gardening! 

--Susan Cline


For May

Common Name: Lemonade Berry


Botanical Name: Rhus integrifolia

Great foundation plant in any native garden, slope-stabilizer
Good in containers, as a hedge or screen
Can be trained to large shrub or small tree
Sun: Sun to part-sun
Water: Occasional (every 3-4 weeks) once established; very drought tolerant once established
Size: 5-15 feet tall by 15-30 feet wide
Flowers are red-white
The flowers have long been used in teas and tinctures as lemon flavoring
Flower season is spring, summer
Berries are edible
LOVED by birds and small mammals for shelter


For April

Common Name: Gum Plant


Botanical Name: Grindelia stricta

Low-growing spreader---must for a Butterfly Garden
Sun: Sun to part-sun
Water: Occasional (every 3-4 weeks) once established; very drought tolerant once established
Size: 1 foot tall by 1-5 feet wide
Flowers are yellow
The flowers are long lasting to add color to your garden
Flower season is spring, summer
Flower buds emit a sticky substance when touched---hence the name gum plant


For March

Common Name: Yankee Point Ceanothus


Botanical Name: Ceanothus griseus horizontalis 'Yankee Point'

Very garden-tolerant, low-growing ground cover
Sun: Full to part sun (protect from afternoon hot sun)
Water: Occasional (every 3-4 weeks) once established; very drought tolerant once established
Size: 2-3 feet tall by 6+ feet wide---spreads far!!!!
Wonderful for slopes and erosion-prone areas
Glossy green leaves and blue blossoms
Flower season in spring
LOVED by butterflies and other pollinators


For February

Common Name:  Hummingbird Sage


Botanical Name: Salvia spathacea

Great addition to a Hummingbird Garden!
Sun: Provide afternoon shade
Water: Occasional (every 3-4 weeks) once established; very drought tolerant once established
Size: 2-3 feet tall by 1-5 feet wide—it will spread
Leaves are wooly and wonderfully FRAGRANT
Flowers can range from dark red to neon pink
Flower season is spring, summer
LOVED by hummingbirds and butterflies, other pollinators


For January

Common Name: Terra Seca Sage


Botanical Name: Salvia mellifera ‘Terra Seca’

Low, evergreen sub-shrub. Very fast growing
Sun: Full to part sun
Water: Occasional (every 3-4 weeks) once established, very drought tolerant once established
Size: 1-2 feet tall by 5-10 feet wide – spreads far!!!
Wonderful for slopes and erosion-prone areas
Will cascade over walls
Has white blossoms
Flower season in spring through summer
Leaves are very fragrant
Loved by hummingbirds, birds and butterflies


For November

Common Name: Purple Three Awn (Grass)

Botanical Name: Aristida purpurea var. purpurea

Tough, beautiful ornamental bunchgrass
Sun: Full sun
Water: Occasional (every 3-4 weeks) once established; very drought tolerant
Size: 2-3 feet tall by 2 feet wide
Needs well-draining soil
Purple seed heads wave gracefully in the wind
Flower season in spring through summer
Recommended for erosion control on hillsides and slopes
Good in containers or planted in large clumps, or individual spots around the garden for color


For October

Common Name:  Pink Fairy Duster

   


Botanical Name: Calliandra Californica

Native to the Cape region of Baja California

Sun: part sun to sun
Water: Occasional (every 3-4 weeks) once established
Size: 3’ tall by 5’ wide, open branching shape
Flowers: Blooms in the spring, summer, fall and winter
Slow-growing and evergreen; but will lose leaves if drought or cold-stressed
Good in Containers
ATTRACTS HUMMINGBIRDS, birds, butterflies and bees

    



For September

Common Name: Island Alum Root

 
      
     

Botanical Name: Heuchera maxima

Rare perennial, native to the northern Channel Islands
Sun: Part shade to shade
Water: Occasional to moderate (3-4 times a month in our area)
Size: 2 feet tall by 2 feet wide, dense mounded shape, flower spikes to 2’
Flowers: Blooms in the spring, white to pinkish
A must-have for a woodland garden or under oak trees, also grows in containers
Grows fast and is evergreen
Tolerates heavy soil and moderate drought
ATTRACTS HUMMINGBIRDS


For May

Common Name: Bush Monkeyflower


Botanical Name: Mimulus aurantiacus / Diplacus aurantiacus

This is a beautiful plant to grow in the garden!

Size: 1-3' H x 1-5' W
Growth Habit: Upright

Flowers: Flowers in the Spring. Flower colors vary from buff to yellow orange. 
Flowers are profuse if deadheaded and pinched back to create a denser form.

Sun: Inland this plant will look its best when given some summer shade–so part sun to part shade.

Good in CONTAINERS
Can be stress-deciduous
Adaptable to different soils
Hummingbird and butterfly favorite!


For April:

Common Name: Coffeeberry 'Eve Case'


Botanical Name: Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case' This is a smaller, compact cultivar---good for hedges or in a container

Size: 3-6' H x 3-4' W

Compact and low growth habit.

The flowers are small, yellow. Blooms in spring and summer

Produces small glossy berries for the birds

Will grow in full sun to part shade---but it can be frost tender

Beautiful, evergreen, glossy leaves

Drought-tolerant once established

Adaptable to different soils

Bird and butterfly friendly


For March:


Common Name: Seaside Daisy


Botanical Name: Erigeron glaucus

Low, mounding perennial that is good in containers

Blossoms are light pink/light purple

Size: Height is 1 foot, spreads 1-2 feet wide

Sun: Sun to Part Sun

Provide afternoon shade and a little extra water in our area

Water: Very drought tolerant once established.

Will thrive in most soil types

Flowers: Fall, Spring and Summer

BUTTERFLY FAVORITE but birds love the seed heads, good for beneficial insects, too!


For February:

Common Name: De la Mina Lilac Verbena


Botanical Name: Verbena lilacina ‘De la Mina”

Dark purple blooms with lavender highlights

Sun: Sun to Part Shade

Size: 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, dense mounded shape

Combines well with sages, mints, and buckwheats

Will thrive in most soil types

Flowers: Blooms and re-blooms almost all year long 

ATTRACTS BUTTERFLIES


For January:

Common Name: Woolly Blue Curls


Botanical Name: Trichostema lanatum

Beautiful blue or purple blossoms on rosemary-like evergreen foliage

Sun: Sun

Water: NO summer water and minimum water other times of year once established. Needs well-drained soil

Size: 4’ tall with blooms x 3’ wide

Compact, medium-sized shrub

Edible, exceptional fragrance, all parts used medicinally by native peoples

Flowers: Blooms spring and summer

Butterfly, bird, bee, hummingbird, and beneficial insect friendly


For December:

Common Name:  Yarrow 'Paprika'

Paprika  Yarrow

Botanical Name:  Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’ 

This is one of the easiest perennials to grow.

Flowers are used in fresh or dried arrangements.  Blossoms are bright red, fading to pink.

Size: Height is 1-2 feet,  spreads 1-5  feet wide

Sun: Sun to Part Sun

Water:  Very drought tolerant once established.

Will thrive in most soil types

Flowers:  Summer through early Fall

BUTTERFLY FAVORITE!

 

For November:

Common Name:  Angelita Daisy

Angelita Daisy

Botanical Name: Tetraneuris acaulis

Bright-eyed, fragrant yellow daisy blossoms

Sun: Sun

Water: Supplemental water every 3-4 weeks, once established

Size: 1-2’ tall with blooms x 1-2’ wide

Makes a great addition to borders, rock gardens, or container gardens

Will thrive in most soil types

Flowers: Blooms and re-blooms almost all year long

Butterfly and beneficial insect friendly


For October:

Common Name:  Sunset Manzanita 

Sunset Manzanita

Botanical Name:  Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’

This is a medium-size foundation shrub that will stay green all year.

Flowers in spring and winter.  Blossoms are light pink

Size: Height is 3-5 feet, spreads 5-10  feet wide

Sun: Sun to Part Sun

Water:  Supplemental water every 3-4 weeks, once established

Will thrive in most soil types

Flowers:  Spring and Summer

Very wildlife friendly especially for hummingbirds

 

For September:

Common Name:  NARROW-LEAF MILKWEED                                                         

Botanical Name:  Asclepias fascicularis

The good news is that this plant is a must for every butterfly garden because it is a favorite nectar plant for adult butterflies and a host plant for Monarch butterfly larvae. It is very tolerant of many types of soil, even clay.

The bad news is that it is a host plant for Monarch butterfly larvae and these hungry creatures will eat it down to the ground!  It is also winter deciduous and will lose all its leaves.

Planting suggestions:  This plant should be placed in the background rather than as a centerpiece in the garden. Plant a number of plants in proximity as sufficient food for larvae.  Will naturalize in the garden.



Photo from California Native Plant Society website.

Size: Height is 3-4 feet,  spreads 2-3  feet wide

Sun: Sun to Part Sun

Water:  Very low water requirements, 1-2 x a month in summer, once established.

Mulch:  Organic with rocks

Flowers:  Spring and Summer

Other California native plants that will attract butterflies and can be planted as companion plants: Indian Mallow (Abutilon palmeri), Ceanothus sp., Western Thistle (Cersium occidentale), California Aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia), California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum), Buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.), Mint (Monardella sp.), Monkeyflower (Mimulus sp.), Penstemon sp., Sages (Salvia sp.), Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua

Online Sources:

Las Pilitas Nursery  http://www.laspilitas.com/

Moosa Creek Nursery  http://www.moosacreeknursery.com

California Native Plant Society   http://www.cnps.org/

Tree of Life Nursery  http://www.californianativeplants.com/


Tropical Milkweed

Another necessary plant for every butterfly garden: (even though not a California Native!)

Common Name:   Tropical Milkweed AKA Golden Butterflyweed

Botanical Name:  Asclepias curassavica

This is a tender evergreen perennial that is a favorite nectar plant for adult butterflies and a host plant for the Monarch larvae.  There is some controversy that the native milkweeds are healthier for adults, but this plant is still a favorite in butterfly gardens.  You may also see the red and orange variety.  It can be planted in a container in frost-danger areas.  Will self-seed to perpetuate itself in the garden.

Size: Height is 3-4 feet,  spreads 2-3  feet wide

Sun: Sun to Part Sun

Water:  Medium water requirements, 1 x a week, regular irrigation once established

Mulch:  Organic if danger of frost

Flowers:  Summer

Online Source:  San Marcos Growers