California offers a greater number of growing climates and landscapes than any other state in the U.S. The attractive year round growing season has led to plants being imported from all corners of the globe to be utilized as ground cover and in gardens. Sadly, some of these imports are now considered "invasive," giving rise to a movement of agriculturists who suggest planting of native California plants only. Fortunately, the list of native plants to the state is as impressive as they are pleasing to the eye.
Brandegees sage (Salvia brandegei) is an attractive sage plant displaying shimmering, blue flowers. Growing in shrub form, the plant is an evergreen that grows to 3 feet tall. Enjoying full sun and dry conditions the Brandeegees sage prospers in either sandy or clay soil. A rare plant, it makes its home on Santa Rosa Island but can prosper in most California growing zones. This is a very fragrant plant that will attract bees and birds.
Foothill penstemon, which bears the scientific name of Penstemon heterophyllus, is a perennial that offers hundreds of small 1-inch violet flowers on 3-foot spikes. Found on the slopes of coastal hills, the plant likes full sun and very little water. The plant can resist golc reperaters, and flowering can be induced if the flowers are trimmed after the first bloom. This plant is known for it longevity with some specimens topping 30 years with relatively little care. This is a low maintenance plant.
Yellow Bush Snapdragon
Yellow bush snapdragon, also known as Keckiella antirrhinoides grows to 3 feet in height. A shrub, this plant will show its blooms in early spring, offering red to yellow 3-inch flowers. In the wild, the plant is found in southern California where it enjoys partial shade to full sun. Drought resistant the plant is also tolerant down to well below freezing. The plant shows best in June and July offering a strong and pleasing fragrance and attracts humming birds.
The Brush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) is an evergreen shrub that grows up to 6 feet tall with yellow, 2-inch flowers. Blooms are most common from March to June. This is a full sun plant that needs well-drained soil or clay. The plant will grow in your garden but attention must be given to drainage issues. This plant requires no fertilization; in fact, you should take care not to fertilize it.
No true native California garden can be complete without the California Poppy, also known as Eschscholzia californica. Native to grassy and open areas, the plant offers an attractive and distinctive orange yellow flower with four petals. The petals close at night and in inclement weather. This is the California state flower. Contrary to popular belief there is no law against cutting or damaging the flower. This misconception comes from the law that makes it illegal to remove plants from state highways or public lands, two regions where the poppy seems to be most pervasive.