If you have been shopping for plants to include in your landscaping project, you may have noticed many species are designated as “California native” or “California friendly” plants. You might assume that because you live in California, either type of plant will fit right into your yard. It’s true that you could use either variety, but you might be surprised to learn that California natives often struggle in our yards!
“California native” is what it sounds like: These plants evolved to thrive in our natural environment here in California, and these are the plants you will often see growing in the wild. By contrast, “California friendly” plants are not native to the area, but are known to be compatible with our climate and common soil conditions in most yards.
So why would California natives perform poorly for some of us? The answer might surprise you. In many neighborhoods, particularly with newer construction, the soil is altered from its original form. As builder excavates and readies a site for building, fill dirt is often utilized. Since this fill dirt is brought from outside the area, it offers very different nutritional value for plants! The compaction levels are often different from native soil as well. Therefore, California native plants often struggle to survive in our backyards.
If you really want to use California native plants in your landscaping, it can certainly be done. But these plants will often require more care and attention to detail. They are also killed rather easily so expert maintenance is suggested. If you would rather not invest in plants that are surprisingly risky for our area, California-friendly is the way to go. These plants will more readily adapt to the true soil conditions in your yard, while also working well for our Southern California climate. In fact, if you’re particularly interested in certain California Native plants, it is likely that a California-friendly variety exists! Plants from the Mediterranean, New Zealand and South Africa tend to do well in our local gardens.
We have a wide variety of California-friendly plants available at our nursery. Come on down, and we can assist you in selecting the right plants for your garden.