Southern California Native Garden Plants

A surprisingly substantial list of southern California's native plants can be cultivated in gardens. They provide an excellent opportunity to xeriscape and can be cared for more easily because they are acclimated to the arid environment of the area. You can buy many of these native plants from nurseries.


Toyon tree, an evergreen, is popular in Southern California and can grow to 15 feet tall. Also, try Mexican elderberry, which can reach 30 feet tall. Both plants appreciate full sun and moister environments.


Many shrubs native to California have made their way to the garden. Smaller shrubs, such as California bush sunflower, the goldenbushes, California gooseberry, California wild rose, black sage and snowberry, grow up to 4 feet tall. Larger shrubs can grow up to 10 feet tall and include coyote brush, laurel sumac, lemonade berry, sugar bush and purple sage.


A long list of native perennials will grow in gardens in Southern California. Most grow well in dry environments and full sun. Smaller perennials, up to 1 foot tall, include ocean locoweed and fleabane. Plants to 2 feet tall include Indian paintbrush, Parry's larkspur, golden yarrow, California buckwheat, California fuchsia, everlastings, matchweed, herkelia, four o'clock, California buttercup, hedge nettle and wild heliotrope. Larger plants include perezia, milkweed, beach primrose, certain buckwheat plants, cliff aster and monkey flower. Some California native perennials get large and include the lance-leaved liveforever, and the bright-green dudleya, bush lupine and prickly pear cactus.


Many annuals native to the area can be grown in the garden. Most enjoy full sun and dry conditions. Smaller plants, up to a foot tall, include miniature lupine, owl's clover, chinese houses, fiesta flower and the California poppy. Medium-sized annuals, up to 2 feet tall, include purple snapdragon, purple clarkia, arroyo lupine, caterpillar Phacelia and chia. Larger plants, up to 3 feet tall, include the common fiddleneck, southern sun cups, and tarplant and popcorn flower.

Climbing Plants

There are a number of vines and climbing plants native to Southern California. Wild morning glory and canyon pea appreciate shady areas, while virgin's bower and climbing penstemon prefer sunnier areas.

Bulbous Plants

Golden stars, Brodiaea, Catalina mariposa lilies and wild hyacinth are popular choices. These flowering plants add a colorful touch for a native garden in Southern California. These plants like full sun.


Native grasses include shorter varieties including Melic grass, and different varieties of needle grass, which grow to about 12 inches. Giant rye grass, a native ornamental grass that reaches 4 to 5 feet, can also be grown in the garden.


Several native ferns can be planted in Southern California gardens. These include the maidenhair and coffee ferns and the smaller goldback and California Polypody ferns. All of these ferns need shade and prefer drier environments.

Keywords: California native plants, growing California native plants, Southern California native garden

About this Author

Located in Jacksonville, Fla, Frank Whittemore has been a writer and content strategist for over 15 years, providing corporate communications services to Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics that stem from his fascination with nature, the environment, science, medicine and technology.