There are over 6,270 native plants in California. With California's diverse microclimates, you can find anything from a daisy clinging to a ragged coastal bluff, to a lily amid snow-capped peaks, to a sage in a dry expanse of inland desert. Of these diverse plants, at least 1,000 are cultivated in nurseries. There are plenty of amazing hybrids available, too. Many of these plants are very easy to grow, are low-maintenance, require very little water, and are excellent for attracting and supporting native wildlife. Here are 4 plant families that are must-haves when you include native plants in your landscape.
There are around 100 species of Manzanita native in California and because of their many excellent qualities many of these can be found in cultivation. Species vary from creeping flat groundcovers to small trees. Manzanitas are evergreen and often look lush even with no irrigation. Most species have stunning glossy red or black bark. Clusters of small urn-shaped flowers appear in very early spring and provide an excellent nectar source for hungry overwintering hummingbirds. Arctostaphylos densiflora (in photo) and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi are 2 useful and attractive species and 'Sunset' is a great hybrid choice.
There are almost 20 perennial species of Salvia native to California, and nearly all of these are in cultivation. There are plenty of amazing hybrids, too. These shrubs and groundcovers have large, showy flowering stalks that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Most species need no irrigation and are very easy to grow. They are also very deer-resistant. Salvia spathacea and Salvia clevelandii (in photo) are 2 of the most useful species, and 'Pozo Blue' is a great hybrid choice.
There are over 50 species of Penstemon native in California. Many of these are cultivated. These hardy little perennial flowers are great for adding color. They come in a variety of colors and grow in various climates and soil conditions. Most of them have a long summer flowering period and are very good for attracting hummingbirds. Two great species are Penstemon spectabilis and Penstemon centranthifolius and a great hybrid is 'Margarita BOP' (shown in photo).
Like Manzanita, Ceanothus is a huge group of plants with lots of variety. Nearly all are evergreen, tidy, and low maintenance. Overwatering and summer watering can make Ceanothus short-lived and susceptible to diseases, so you can save on your water bills. Flowers appear in summer and can be blue, purple, or white. Ceanothus rigidus and Ceanothus arboreus are nice species and 'Concha' is a great hybrid choice.