Home Home & Garden Native Vegetation for Southern California Pollinators – FineGardening

Native Vegetation for Southern California Pollinators – FineGardening


Winter is a good time so as to add new crops to your backyard, and what higher so as to add than California natives? California natives have developed with our native climate situations, soil, and fauna. You possibly can look ahead to attracting native birds, bees, butterflies, and moths with many crops which can be endemic to our area.

all-native garden
The wildflowers on this all-native backyard are left to seed themselves naturally for a meadow-like impact. Picture: Cara Hanstein

Plant choice and backyard upkeep are key to attracting wildlife

Each plant choice and the way you preserve these crops are key to attracting animals comparable to pollinators and birds. Butterflies are drawn to nectar crops that they will land on whereas they feed. When selecting native crops for nectar, take note the flower form. Flat or daisylike flowers are greatest for butterflies, whereas tubular-shaped flowers are good for moths and hummingbirds. A wilder backyard upkeep method will even encourage wildlife. Which means much less deadheading and leaf particles elimination. As you let spent flowers set seed and permit fallen leaves to guard the soil, birds will flock to the scene for each seed left undisturbed and worms in plant particles.

monarch caterpillar
This monarch caterpillar is munching on the foliage of narrow-leaf milkweed. Picture: Gretta Truescorff

Native crops for native pollinators

California native bees can be supported by the crops you choose in your backyard. Do you know that there are 1,500 totally different species of bees native to California? Your backyard will buzz with life as you incorporate pollen and nectar assets for them. Moreover, many California natives have pollinators that rely on them. An instance of this evolutionary reliance is the monarch butterfly and its relationship with narrow-leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis, Zones 6–10). This plant is a meals supply for monarch caterpillars and an necessary nectar supply for different butterflies. Plant this milkweed and know that you’re serving to to help an endangered pollinator.

In case you are seeking to incorporate a couple of extra California natives into your backyard, listed here are some that may match into virtually any gardening type.

Showy penstemon
Showy penstemon lives as much as its identify, with tubular purple flowers that entice hummingbirds and bees. Picture: Cara Hanstein

Showy penstemon

Penstemon spectabilis, Zone 8–11

Count on to see many bumblebees and hummingbirds on these hanging purple flowers. Showy penstemon is tolerant of assorted soils, together with clay, however ought to be planted in full solar. It should attain about 3 ft tall and flower from April to June. Plant en masse for much more influence.

San Diego pitcher sage
While you brush in opposition to the aromatic foliage of San Diego pitcher sage, watch out for disturbing stinging pollinators! Picture: Cara Hanstein

San Diego pitcher sage

Lepechinia fragrans, Zone 9–10

That is one in every of my favourite California natives as a result of the scent of the foliage has an intoxicating, fruity scent. San Diego pitcher sage is extremely sturdy and tolerates full solar to dappled shade. Plant in fast-draining soil, in a location the place it may be brushed in opposition to for wafts of perfume. Hummingbirds and bumblebees love the bell-shaped flowers that bloom from spring by summer time. San Diego pitcher sage reaches 4 ft tall and three ft broad at maturity. Prune in late summer through fall for a contemporary flush of development.

Tall evening primrose
Tall night primrose has flowers that pollinators love. They fade into seed heads that feed native birds. Picture: Cara Hanstein

Tall night primrose

Oenothera elata, Zones 7–9

Tall night primrose is the host plant of white-lined sphinx moths. Often known as hummingbird moths, these sizable moths may be simply mistaken for the tiny birds. Tall night primrose is tall and slender, reaching about 5 to six ft in top, so preserve it towards the again of the backyard. It does readily seed itself, and birds go wild for its seed heads in late summer time. Tall night primrose takes full solar and is adaptable to a number of soil sorts.

Island alum root
You don’t should depend on full-sun crops to draw hummingbirds and butterflies. Picture: Cara Hanstein

Island alum root

Heuchera maxima, Zones 8–10

This blooming shade plant is beloved by hummers and moths alike. I’ve seen white-lined sphinx moths throughout this plant! Island alum root has a compact behavior, with foliage reaching a few foot tall. Wandlike flower spikes shoot up above foliage about one other 18 inches. That is one charming native plant that appears most hanging planted in lots.

Margarita Bop foothill penstemon
‘Margarita Bop’ blooms in a swath of vibrant, virtually neon purple flowers that entice a wide range of totally different pollinators. Picture: Cara Hanstein

‘Margarita BOP’ foothill penstemon

Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita BOP’, Zones 6–10

This hanging cultivar of foothill penstemon has electrical blue flowers. The tubular flowers entice hummingbirds, bees, and moths. ‘Margarita BOP’ does greatest in full solar and fast-draining soil. This plant is ideal for a cottage backyard. It blooms from April by August, and its compact kind reaches about 2 ft tall and broad.

California lilac
California lilac is a floriferous shrub that serves because the host plant to varied butterflies, together with the California tortoiseshell and pale swallowtail. Picture: Fionuala Campion

Honorable mentions

California lilac (Ceanothus spp. and cvs., Zones 7–9), California brittlebush (Encelia californica Zones 9–10), and coyote mint (Monardella villosa, Zones 8–11) are three extra Southern California native, flowering perennials that may convey wildlife flocking to your backyard. For extra info on native crops in Southern California, try these articles:

—Cara Hanstein is a head gardener on the Huntington Library, Artwork Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.