How to Propagate California Native Plants


According to the California Environmental Resources Evaluation System, California has the most diverse collection of native plants of any state in the United States. Californians wishing to grow native plants have a wide variety of plants to choose from, thanks to the diversity of the state's native flora. California also stringently regulates the plant species that can be brought into the state to protect the environment against invasive non-native species. Because of this, propagating of plants should be done very carefully after properly researching the native plants.

Step 1

Take a photo of the plant before taking cuttings or collecting seedlings from a native species. Write down any information about the plant and its environment as you can.

Step 2

Identify the plant by looking through a native species guide or contacting your local USDA operated Extension Service. Research all aspects of plant care for the plant. Determine soil, nutrient and water conditions as well as amount of sunlight needed. Also determine if the plant is toxic or hazardous.

Step 3

Check and make sure that the plant is not an endangered species that is protected by law before taking cuttings or seedlings. Although you may not be allowed to take cuttings or seeds from protected plants in their natural environment, you may be able to purchase seeds or seedlings from nurseries.

Step 4

Place cuttings, seedlings or seeds in a plastic bag to preserve them until such time as you can propagate the plant. Cuttings will require a small amount of water to help keep them fresh.

Step 5

Place peat moss in a seedling tray and water until it is the consistency of a damp sponge. Plant seeds at the recommended depth in your plant identification guide (typically twice the width of the seed). Propagate cuttings by dipping the cut end in rooting hormone and inserting it into the peat moss.

Step 6

When seedlings sprout, thin them until there is 1 to 2 inches between them.

Step 7

When seedlings have reached 4 inches tall, transplant them outdoors into the soil, by digging a hole in your selected site and placing the plant's root ball into the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Camera
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Native plant species guide
  • Plastic bags
  • Peat moss
  • Seedling trays
  • Water
  • Rooting hormone
  • Watering can
  • Grow lights


  • California Natural Resources Agency: Why Rare Species?
  • Pacific Northwest Extension: Propagating Plants from Seed

Who Can Help

  • University of California: Propagating Plants from Cuttings
  • The Chico State Herbarium
Keywords: native garden, propagating plants, collecting seeds

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.