California Native Plants
California Native Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, and Grasses
Native plants have evolved to coexist in our local geography and climate. Natives hold their own when soil is poor and water is unpredictable. California natives have several gardening advantages and come in all shapes, sizes, scents and colors.
Many natives require little to no irrigation, even on the hottest summer days.
REQUIRE LITTLE TO NO MAINTENANCE
Native plants require minimal fertilizing and pest control. Our clay soils are actually very rich in nutrients, which native plants have adapted to utilize.
REDUCE THE NEED FOR PESTICIDES
Native plants have developed their own defenses against many of the troublesome pests and insects in our area. Therefore, they don’t require many pesticides to stay healthy. Reducing pesticides lets natural pest control take over.
SUPPORT LOCAL ECOLOGY
As development replaces natural habitat, planting native plants in your garden can help create a “bridge” for many of the creatures who call our ecosystems home. Native plants will also promote more “beneficials” in your garden including, but not limited to: butterflies, ladybugs, praying mantis, lacewings, non-aggressive bumble bees, (fantastic for all home orchard enthusiasts), hummingbirds, etc.
DID YOU KNOW…
Did you know that native flowering plants such as the Manzanita, California Holly, Western Redbud, and the California Wild Rose attract non-aggressive native bees? As do the California Poppy, the Monkey Flower
Native bees are non-aggressive towards humans unless provoked, and actively defend against other non-native bee and wasp species.
California Fuchsia or any other red-flowering native draws our state’s hummingbird species.
NATIVE PLANT LIST*
Scroll below for the most common native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses.
Trees & Shrubs
Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
- Sunset Zones: 3B, 7-14, 18, 23 | Height: 15-30' | Width: 10-20'
- Deciduous tree with slender foliage and a graceful, semi-weeping growth habit.
- Fragrant pink trumpet-shaped flowers bloom spring through fall. Leaves tend to drop early and seed pods stay on branches throughout the winter.
Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)
- Sunset Zones: 2-12, 14-24 | Height: 75-90' | Width: 15'
- Evergreen tree with a dense, pyramidal form. Reddish brown bark contrasts nicely with bright green sprays of soft needles. Produces a pungent spicy, slightly sweet fragrance in warm weather.
Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)
- Sunset Zones: 3b-9, 11-24 | Height: 70' | Width: 70'
- Deciduous tree with majestic, broad canopy and distinctly checkered gray bark. When mature, twisting branches can even touch the ground. Deeply cut, round lobed leaves are dark green with a pale underside, fall color brings shades of gold and rusty orange.
Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
- Sunset Zones: 2-24 | Height: 10-18' | Width: 10-18'
- Deciduous tree or large shrub with naturally-multi trunked form and an airy, open growth habit. Before leafing out in early spring, multi-trunked branches are adorned with many tiny magenta blossoms which give way to seed pods in the summer. Leaves are bright green, round and glossy. Fall color is yellow and red.
Buckthorn (Rhamnus spp.)
- Sunset Zones: 3a-10, 14-24 | Height: 3-15' | Width: 8'
- Evergreen shrub with deep green foliage and upright growth habit. Highly variable appearance, very drought tolerant when established.
California Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica)
- Sunset Zones: 5-9, 14-24 | Height: 4-8' | Width: 4-8'
- Evergreen shrub with attractive, deep green foliage naturally forms a mound. In late spring and early summer it is covered with white flowers with bright yellow stamens that resemble Anemones.
California Wild Lilac (Ceanothus spp.)
- Sunset Zones: 5-9, 14-17, 19-24 | Height & Width: Varies by species
- Evergreen spreading shrub with bright green, glossy foliage. Clusters of lightly fragrant blue flowers bloom in the spring. Highly variable in size, some species used as groundcovers all the way up to screening shrubs.
Carmel Creeper (Ceanothus griseus horizontalis)
- Sunset Zones: 5-9, 14-17, 19-24 | Height: 1- 2' | Width: 5-15'
- Evergreen spreading shrub with bright green, glossy foliage. Many small clusters of bright blue flowers bloom in the spring.
Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica)
- Sunset Zones: 3a-10, 14-24 | Height: 3-15' | Width: 8'
- Evergreen shrub with highly variable appearance and form, depending on its environment. Once established, can survive without supplemental irrigation. Attractive berries start out green, then ripen to red, then black.
Dwarf Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis)
- Sunset Zones: 5-11, 14-24 | Height: 8-24" | Width: 6'
- Evergreen groundcover shrub with dense, bright green foliage. Small white flowers appear in spring. Very hardy, tolerates most soils.
Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron spp.)
- Sunset Zones: 4-24 | Height: 20' | Width: 12'
- Sprawling shrub with irregular shape. Rounded, lobed leaves are thick, dark green and leathery with a fuzzy underside. Bright yellow saucer-shaped flowers bloom in spring and summer.
Manzanita (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
- Sunset Zones: 1-9, 14-24 | Height: 1' | Width: 15'
- Evergreen creeping shrub with small, dark green, leathery leaves. White flowers give way to little red berries. Needs acidic soil.
Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
- Sunset Zones: 2-12, 14-24 | Height: 6' | Width: 5'
- Evergreen shrub with glossy, serrated leaves and a dense, bushy growth habit. Blooms in early spring, with bright yellow flower clusters that turn in to edible blueblack fruit.
Pink-Flowered Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
- Sunset Zones: 4-9, 14-24 | Height: 5-10' | Width: 5'
- Deciduous shrub with an upright growth habit and bright green foliage. Pendulous, deep pink flower clusters bloom in spring, followed by blue-black fruit.
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
- Sunset Zones: 5-9, 14-24 | Height: 8-15' | Width: 8-15'
- “California Holly” is an evergreen shrub with dense, upright growth habit and leathery dark green leaves. Can be pruned up into a small tree. Profuse white flowers in summer give way to clusters of red berries.
Perennials & Grasses
Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)
- Sunset Zones: 2-9, 14-24 | Height: 4-24" | Width: 6-24"
- Bluish green grass-like leaves form a clump with small, blue-violet flowers in the spring.
California Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens)
- Sunset Zones: 5, 14-24 | Height: 1-1' | Width: 1-1'
- Perennial forms a low clump of stems with gray-green foliage. Stems topped with clusters of rosy red flowers bloom in the summer. Needs good drainage, attracts wildlife.
California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica)
- Sunset Zones: 2-11, 14-24 | Height: 6"-4' (depending on variety) | Width: 3-4'
- Gray-green foliage forms a spreading mat, which blooms with tubular bright orange flowers in the summer. Very hardy and drought tolerant, attracts hummingbirds.
California Poppy (Eschschlozia californica)
- Sunset Zones: 1-24 | Height: 1' | Width: 1'
- Perennial forms a clump of fine blue-green foliage. In spring, bright orange, satiny flowers bloom. Re-seeds freely, summer dormant if not watered.
Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)
- Sunset Zones: 8, 9, 12-24 | Height: 3-5' | Width: 5-8'
- Forms a rounded shrub with fragrant grey foliage. Spikes bearing whorls of light purple flowers bloom in the summer. Tough and adaptable to many different soil types.
Fried Egg Poppy (Romneya coulteri)
- Sunset Zones: 4-12, 14-24 | Height: 6-8' | Width: 6-8' +
- Perennial with gray-green foliage, and an upright growth habit, spreads by rhizome. Large white flowers with bright yellow centers bloom in summer. Cut back nearly to the ground in fall.
Iris ‘Pacific Coast Hybrids’
- Sunset Zones: 4-9, 14-24 | Height: 1-2' | Width: 1-2'
- Perennial from rhizome forms a clump of bright green, narrow foliage. Stalks bearing beautiful flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Dig and divide in early fall.
Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
- Sunset Zones: 7-9, 14-24 | Height: 4' | Width: 4'
- Perennial forms a mound of bright green foliage. Funnel-shaped flowers in shades of orange, yellow or red attract hummingbirds.
Penstemon ‘Margarita B.O.P.’ (Penstemon ‘Margarita B.O.P.’)
- Sunset Zones: 7-24 | Height: 1-2' | Width: 2-3'
- Evergreen perennial forms a clump with spikes of narrow tubular flowers in the spring and summer.
California Fescue (Festuca californica)
- Sunset Zones: 4-9, 14-24 | Height: 2-3' | Width: 1-2'
- Forms a loose clump of blue green foliage with airy flower spikes in late spring to early summer.
California Grey Rush (Juncus patens)
- Sunset Zones: 4-9, 14-24 | Height: 2' | Width: 2'
- Forms a narrow, upright clump of stiff grey-green leaves. Tolerates more heat and drought then most other rushes, but thrives with regular water.
Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
- Sunset Zones: 4-24 | Height: 4' | Width: 4'
- Narrow leaves form a dense vase shaped clump. Tall flower stalks emerge in late summer.
Fiber Optic Grass (Scirpus cernuus)
- Sunset Zones: 7-24 | Height: 6-10" | Width: 6-10"
- Thin, bright green leaves form a dense clump topped with small brown flower spikelets. Thrives with ample water.
Gramma Grass (Bouteloua gracilis)
- Sunset Zones: 1-3, 7-11, 14, 18-21 | Height: 1-2' | Width: 1'
- Forms a dense clump of fine bright green leaves, spikes topped with horizontal dangling flowers bloom in summer. Very tough and drought tolerant.