Making the Case for California Native Plants

home > blog > Making the Case for California Native Plants
Making the Case for California Native Plants

It’s California Native Plant Week and the perfect opportunity for us to again expound on the many benefits of going native in your yard. Not only would you be conserving water and saving money, but you would also be helping preserve the many species of California flora (and, in turn, some of the fauna) that are threatened with extinction.

The Plight of California Plants

There’s no use denying it, our whole planet is experiencing unparalleled species extinction rates. But this does not simply mean we won’t have a particular plant or animal anymore. The extinction of just one plant can have long-term repercussions for the planet and us. Conserving biological diversity is essential to keeping our planet healthy enough to support human life. Now we can’t necessarily have a hands-on impact on biological diversity world, but we can have a direct impact in our state.

California is actually one of the most biologically diverse regions on earth. It is home to 25 percent of all plant species in the continental U.S. and has approximately 6,000 native plant species, of which 2,000 are found NOWHERE ELSE ON THE PLANET. This is a very impressive plant repertoire, but while California has some of the most effective conservation laws, our plants are still at risk. According to the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), there are more than 1,500 imperiled plants. In fact, the only state with more imperiled plant species and more Federally listed plants, is Hawaii. As a result, various studies have indicated that California holds an urgent priority for species and habitat conservation efforts.

Native Plants are Essential to Wildlife and the Ecosystem

Plants are absolutely essential to life on Earth. This is indisputable no matter how many people would like to pretend it is. But this does not mean ANY plants are essential to ANY life. Native ecosystems are essential to life on this planet and native plants are essential to these.

Over the millennia, plants and animals have evolved together, which means that the plants of a particular region meet the exact shelter and food needs of native wildlife. Plant-wildlife relationships are highly specialized. Without the plants that they rely on for food, shelter, or reproduction, native animals and insects would die out, and this would be dangerous for the environment.

Native plants aren’t just essential to wildlife but to the native ecosystem too. They are specifically adapted to function best with their native soils, climate, and wildlif

We Can Do Our Part!

Yes, there are many beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees that we’d love to see everyday in our yards, but when all of these plants are non-native, they do not help conserve nature in our state. In fact, the invasion of non-native plants just speeds up the disappearance of native plants and wildlife that make California the amazing biodiverse area that it is. Does this mean you can’t enjoy coleus plants native to southeast Asia? No, but if you focus on California native plants in at least one area of your yard, it makes a difference! For example, remove the lawn and go California native in your front yard while keeping the lawn in your backyard.

Before starting your native plant garden, there are a number of questions to address. If you want your native garden to be successful, you have to take the time to evaluate the conditions of your site (e.g. amount of sun, soil conditions, climate conditions) and then determine which native plants would do best. Speaking with a native plant consultant at a native nursery would be a great place to start.

Here are a few of our favorite native plants, which you may remember from our previous blog post, that you can look into to begin familiarizing yourself with the beautiful plants California offers:

  • California Lilac (Ceanothus)

  • Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

  • Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

  • California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

Yes, Your Yard Will Make a Difference

Many people don’t bother with going native because they may feel it wouldn’t help, but they are wrong. Each and every yard that turns into a native garden, even if it is just ten a year will help support our California wildlife and ecosystem, which will automatically help you save water and money.


Publish Date: 04/17/2017
Read More