Are California Natives Hard to Grow?

Plants are only hard to grow when their water, sun or soil requirements are not met. The obvious fact is that all native plants are perfectly adapted to the locations in which they naturally occur. Gardens in southern California are typically irrigated and fertilized creating a very different environment from the one most California natives are adapted to. For this reason natives sometimes have a difficult time in garden conditions.

For a successful native garden, group plants with similar needs. Select plants that are adapted to the sun, soil and water conditions of your garden. And remember, the most common reason for failure is over watering. The following gardening tips will help:

10 Gardening Tips

  1. Plant when your soil is cool and moist - late fall through winter.
  2. Select plants that are compatible with your garden conditions and practices.
  3. Select healthy plants.
  4. Group plants with similar requirements.
  5. Choose plants that will fit their space when they are mature. To give your garden a full look, use annuals or short-lived perennials between the new small, young plants.
  6. Provide supplemental water until plants are established. Once established (1-2 years, depending on the plant), do not over-water! Many California natives will need supplemental water during dry winters but do well with limited summer irrigation.
  7. Do not fertilize or amend soil. Most California natives prefer lean soil. Rich soil can lead to excessive growth that is hard to maintain in the heat of the summer.
  8. Maintain your garden. Prune and pinch plants to keep them looking neat and keep up with weeding.
  9. If some plants do not make it, consider it a learning experience and try something new.