Grow Native Nusery


Grow Native

Why native plants?

Why should I landscape with California native plants?
Early explorers and settlers were awed by the variety and profusion of wildflowers throughout the state of California.  Hillsides were painted in gold, red, yellow, blue and white flowers.  Shrubs like California lilac decorated the landscape in blue and white.  In the heat of the summer, the wonderful smells of the soft gray salvias and sagebrushes spiced the air.  The landscape was abuzz with bees.  

Yet new Californians, regardless of where they were from originally, created landscapes of plants familiar to them, from crop and orchard plants to horticultural plants more at home in other climates. Developers entice newcomers by creating lush, tropical paradise landscapes, rather than our own California paradise. When irrigation water seemed limitless, gardeners tried their hands at plants from all over the globe, often with remarkable success. The result of all of this is that today all too many landscapes across the country exhibit the same kind of conformity as shopping malls. Thirsty nasturtium and azaleas color our gardens, just as they do those in the wet, subtropical climate of the Southeastern US. We have lost our sense of place and it is time to reclaim it!

Welcome birds and butterflies into your garden

Landscaping with native plants not only gives us a sense of place, it welcomes native birds, butterflies and other beneficial insects to our yards and parks by creating habitat that feeds and shelters them.  Consult the National Wildlife Federation website ( for more information on creating backyard habitat.

Save water

Many non-native plants, particularly those from wet, tropical areas and including lawns, only thrive in our mild, Mediterranean and desert climates with the constant addition of water. The cost of all of that water merits reflection as does the fact that, in times of drought, restrictions on water use may be imposed. Also consider the inconvenience of this dependence on artificially supplied water. With a landscape of established natives, you can go on vacation in August without worrying that all of your plants will be dead if the sprinkler system fails! Check out the Be Water Wise website created by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for more water conservation tips (

Create a beautiful outdoor space

Landscaped spaces, like gardens and parks, are made primarily for people.  Taking into account environmental concerns certainly makes sense, but the beauty of California native plants makes a compelling argument for their presence in our gardens.  The wonderful smells of our native plants, the soft colors of the foliage, the variety of flowers, and the welcome presence of butterflies and birds, makes the California native garden the perfect garden.
Quick Planting Guide
1. Select a suitable location in your garden for the plant you have purchased. You may need to do a little research but consider the following: sun exposure, drainage, and the mature size of the plant.

2. Water your plant thoroughly while it's still in the pot.

3. Dig a hole, make it as deep as the pot and twice as wide. At this point you can also moisten, but don’t soak, the removed soil - don’t use dry soil to fill in the hole later.

4. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Repeat. 

5. Gently remove the plant from the pot. Some tapping, rolling or squeezing of the pot may be required but try not to be too rough with the roots. 

6. Place the plant in the hole, check that the top of the root ball is not going to be below the surrounding surface level of the soil. Add some soil below the plant to meet this level as needed.

7. Fill in the hole around the rootball with moist soil. The plant should be packed snugly, never lose, but try not to pack it too hard.

8. Build a berm around your plant with some excess garden soil. The size of the berm should be similar to the width of the hole you dug (~double the pot size).

9. Water the plant thoroughly. Fill the berm and then let it drain. Repeat 1 or 2 more times.

10. For the next few weeks check in with your plant regularly. Use your finger to dig down a couple of inches and check for moisture in the root ball. Water often until your plant is established and when you water, be sure to water thoroughly. You will know your plant is established when it is 2-3 times bigger than when you bought it. At this point you shouldn’t need to water as much.
Planting FAQs

Can I leave my plants in these black plastic pots?

The plastic pot that you bought your plant in is great for use in the nursery but is not so great for use at home. They will require lots of extra water while in these pots. If you can’t plant right away, keep the plants in some shade and check them every day or two for water. You should try to plant as soon as you can.


Mulch is great with native plants, especially newly planted ones. It will help keep the roots cool and moist. Be sure to keep mulch a few inches away from the stem of the plant to avoid rot.
Fertilizer? Most native plants shouldn’t need very much fertilizer. If you do want to fertilize consider using organic products like worm castings or compost.

Should I use bagged soil?

Most native plants are going to do just fine in your native garden soil. If you know you have a problem for sure you can use a planting mix or soil amendments but most of the time you will only be wasting money. Note, you should not use potting soil in your garden, save it for your container plants.

What if I don’t have a big garden? Are containers okay?

Many native plants will thrive in containers placed in a suitable location. Use a well draining bagged, potting soil, not garden soil. Commercially sold potting soils often benefit from addition of some perlite for increased drainage. Remember that, because their roots are limited by the container itself,  plants in containers will need extra water for the entire time that they are kept in a pot.

Should I cut the root ball, I heard this helps increase rooting?

Never cut or score the root ball of your native plants. Dense, overgrown root balls can be gently loosened with your fingers, a dowel or chopstick, but generally the less manipulation of the roots the better.

How often should I water?

California is a big state with 6000+ native plants and many different ecosystems. Some established plants can handle living on rainwater alone and others, such as riparian plants, will need water at least once a week if planted in a sunny location. Every garden is different: soil type, drainage, sun exposure, and microclimate can all affect how often you will need to water your plants. The "look" that you seek is also a factor. Some native plant gardeners are happy with a landscape that is dormant in summer whereas others prefer more signs of life! Learn from your garden:  let your plants educate you and then trust your educated gut!