Grow Garden-friendly Natives

California native plants thrive in gardens with a mix of drought-tolerant and Mediterranean-climate plants - if the natives picked tolerate some summer water. Here are a half-dozen compatible performers selected by Susan Jett, director of horticulture for the all-native Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont.

  • ‘Ray Hartman’ wild lilac (Ceanothus) - Grows 15 feet tall and wide. Shiny bright green leaves are attractive year round; rich medium blue flowers in spring. Butterfly favorite. Prune to shape in spring after flowering.
  • ‘Howard McMinn’ Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) - Sculptural small tree 6 to 7 feet tall, 6 feet wide. Tolerates various soils and some shade. Smooth mahogany-hued bark, glossy leaves and pink flowers in spring.
  • Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) - Year-round interest from this evergreen shrub or small tree know as California’s holly. Grows 7 to 8 feet tall and wide. White flowers in summer followed by red berries favored by birds.
  • ‘Allen Chickering’ Sage (Salvia) - Robust hybrid that grows to 4 feet tall with gray-green foliage and lots of bright blue flowers late spring and into summer. Cut back by one-third after flowering to maintain vigor. Pinch prune in spring to shape.
  • ‘Wendy’ Coral Bells (Heuchera) - Hybrid with long-lasting spring bloom of bright rose-pink flowers on sturdy 3 foot stems above 10 to 12-inch high light green foliage clumps. Striking in mass plantings. Tolerates tree roots. Provide afternoon shade in hot inland areas.
  •  ‘Pigeon Point’ Dwarf Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis) - Easy-care groundcover prized for its bright green leaves. Fast growing. Can be sheared. Full sun.


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