Plants that produce a lot of nectar live in all areas of California, from the mountains to the shore. Home gardeners choose the plants for their flower displays and so do the butterflies who come for the nectar. The sweet stuff also draws bees, who transform the nectar into honey.
Coastal Sand Verbena
Coastal sand verbena (Abronia latifolia Eschsch) is also known as yellow sand verbena and is a member of the Four-O'clock family. The plant produces an abundance of yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom on top of tall stems in May, June, July and August. Coastal sand verbena is native to the dunes along the Pacific Coast.
California buckeye (Aesculus californica) is a member of the horse-chestnut family. The shrub grows from 10 to 20 feet tall with dark-green, palm-shaped, compound leaves made up of four to seven leaflets that turn red in the fall. The white-orange flowers grow in clusters from 4 to 8 inches long in April, May and June and are followed by pear-shaped seed capsules measuring 2 to 3 inches long. California buckeye grows best in full sun or partial shade and a dry soil. Chipmunks and squirrels will make a meal out of the seeds and butterflies will use the nectar, but it is poison to bees.
Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii) is an evergreen that grows 30 to 100 feet tall with 2- to 6-inch long leaves that are dark green on top and gray-white underneath. The plant, also known as madrona, Oregon laurel and laurelwood, is a member of the heath family. Its tiny, white or pink, urn-shaped flowers bloom in early summer, growing in loose clusters at the tips of the branches and followed by bright orange-red berries that take a full year to mature. Pacific madrone theirves in full sun or partial shade and a soil that is moist to dry and well-drained. The tree does not do well with hot summers. Songbirds and small animals like its fruit, and honey bees use the pollen and nectar.
Redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a deciduous shrub that grows from 6 to 10 feet tall and about the same width. The shrub produces medium to dark, oval-shaped leaves 2 to 5 inches long and 1 to 2-1/2 inches wide that turn a purple-red in the fall. The white flowers grow in flat clusters that grow up to 2-1/2 inches in diameter from later May to early June and are followed buy white to pale blue fruits in August and September. Redosier dogwood does best in full sun or light shade and in moist soil.