We are blessed to live in California! Among the multitude of reasons is the richness of our native plant population, home to more native plants than any other state in the country, 4839 of them! It is a bit curious that our native plants are more popular across the Atlantic than here at home!
Long before the Europeans conquered these lands the California native plants evolved over the eons to our hot summers and cold winters. Those which survived have adapted to both our weather and our soils.
Once most natives become established, they require little water, thus are drought tolerant. If your gardens are located with damp or marshy soil, then naturally there are beautiful shade and water-loving natives for moist areas as well.
California plants are typically easy to grow, not needing pesticides and/or fertilizers. Native wildlife gardens offer beauty as well as havens of biodiversity! It is apparent that they should be the easiest to grow! It is necessary to consider the home base, though, as beach wildflowers will certainly not flourish in the mountains! As our habitat consistently becomes drier it is essential to utilize our natives which will thrive in those harsher conditions. The most essential consideration of all is the healthy habitat for all our California butterflies, moths and bees which depend on these native plants to produce the flowers and seeds to attract them and to sustain them. Insects are only part of the story for so do the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and other wildlife which historically require them for food and shelter!
There is scientific news and data continually emerging across the world regarding the long-term damage to local environment and ecosystems that imported plant life often wreaks!
Long-time esteemed Garden Club member Toni Bethelotte writes in her Basic Guide to Mountain Gardening book, “Using native plants is a good idea no matter where you live. It’s good for the soil, good for the gardener, good for the ecology. Our environment loses more and more support for our wildlife every year. This is due to expansion of human habitats, replacing soil surfaces with pavements, roads, buildings…every plant and creature on our planet is tied in numerous ways to every other plant and creature…By using native plants we still can have beauty and also save water and other resources…caterpillars and bees…are essential to our survival…each species requires plants that are NATIVE to their location…There is no longer time to waste. Mankind needs to replace the lost natural resources by planting natives…there is not enough wild land to support birds, bees, insects, etc. who depend on them.