Plant of the Month

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

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

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.

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 


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



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

Moosa Creek Nursery

California Native Plant Society

Tree of Life Nursery

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