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California Gardening: Plant Files thin on CA Natives

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Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

March 26, 2005
5:20 AM

Post #1363466

I was looking through the plant files and noticed they are a little thin on CA natives. As far as i could tell no ceanothus listed. The manzanitas were mostly ones that grew elsewhere. Gotta get to work and add some listings I was hoping one of my favorites, rabbit bush, chrysothamnus nauseousus would be there but it was not there either. It has the most beautiful gray leaves. It has done very well in my yard.
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

March 26, 2005
5:47 AM

Post #1363483

Actually rabbit bush was there, I went to submit it and it came up. Guess I mis-spelled it the first time. What a weird name for a wonderful plant.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

March 26, 2005
3:52 PM

Post #1364060

Chuck,

I agree we're thin on CA natives. I'm waiting for some of ours to grow up a little so I can take pictures -- manzanitas, ceanothus, sages, and some small trees.

Went to look at the rabbit bush but backed up as soon as I saw "pollen" and "ragweed" -- just looking at the pictures would probably get me sneezing! :-)

We started with 1-1/4 acres of dirt with a few pine and eucalyptus trees on the perimeter, and we're starting from the house and working outward planting natives, so it will take a lot of time. We do have one beaut -- a huge toyon at the bottom of the hill. It's put up a couple of shoots and we're wondering if we can transplant them somewhere. Will have to call the local natives nursery and check.
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

March 26, 2005
6:25 PM

Post #1364313

They are probably seedlings. I am not aware that heteromeles spreads by underground runners. That is a lot of ground. Is it flat or hilly? Do you have a plan in mind?

I have started working on the ceanothus, putting in some that I have planted and are doing well. Others that come to mind as I am sitting here at the computer. I do not have a digital camera, but it is on the list to purchase soon so I can take some pictures. Are you going for mostly CA natives or a variety of things?

I was out weeding and taking stock of what survived the winter. Most things did. I still have about 350 one gallons sitting in my driveway that I need to plant. I told my wife I would not get anymore until I had most of these planted. Great weather in Arroyo today.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

March 26, 2005
11:54 PM

Post #1364988

Chuck,

Yes it is a lot of ground. We were looking for a smaller lot, but they're hard to come by in this area. Any further inland would be too hot for my Yorkshire-born husband. We are consulting with a CA natives landscaper, but doing the work ourselves. We're on a slight hill (huff & puffer), and our lot is skinny going across it, then down into the wooded area where the toyon is. The house sits on a cut and fill pad -- so we have an up-slope and a down-slope with what we call our terrace in the middle, where we've put a ramada. We are landscaping with natives and fruit trees, but I have some outdoor orchids, a small wisteria, and I'm going to try some plumeria in pots as well -- just because I like them so much!

I'm trying my hand at vegetables in a raised bed -- fumbling, but perservering. This weekend we're planting six espaliered apple trees on the edge of the terrace.

Our first planting late last summer of 120 on the up-slope was a killer, I can't imagine 350! We learned a lot from the experience, though, so when we do the next phase it should go more smoothly. Luckily, we live close to Las Pilitas, and they are very helpful. It will take years, but we'll get there...

This photo was taken just prior to planting the up-slope. We put in ceanothus, zauschneria, fraxinus, madrone, manzanita, chitalpa, fremontodendron, and more I can't recall without my list.



Thumbnail by KaperC
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

March 27, 2005
12:37 AM

Post #1365028

You have made a good start. The nice thing about a slope is you do not have to worry too much about drainage. If you have not been to Tree of Life Nursery you should go. They are open to the public on Friday. They have an outstanding collection of natives. If you are using a licensed landscaper, he can probably get you wholesale prices if you buy a lot. Theodore Payne is farther away, but also excellent. Eventually you will go through the nurseries inventory and head toward the Botanical Garden sales which take place in spring and fall. UCRiverside and Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens both have lots of natives and other Mediterranean plants that would work in your yard. No hurry though, better to go slow and do it right, finding the right plants and putting them in. I used to have a saying that if you finished the yard it was time to move. I am not planning on moving from this place until I can no longer go up and down the hill. So I have a few more years.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

March 28, 2005
5:29 PM

Post #1368606

Yes, the hill is good for drainage -- the only bad thing is the darn mulch won't stay put, but keeps sliding down! Himself has started putting steps in the slope for easier access.

Must check out Tree of Life -- I thought I had checked it before, but the web site looks new to me. Thanks for the tip -- it's just within my driving distance these days. We're thinking of putting in an ore car on tracks when it gets too hard to get back up the hill! :-)

Kelli
L.A. (Canoga Park), CA
(Zone 10a)

March 29, 2005
10:03 PM

Post #1371455

When I am able to get out, I try to get pictures to add to the PF. I have added maybe a dozen natives, but for the most part, I don't know the details about growing them in captivity.
http://davesgarden.com/pf/browse/user/Kelli/
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

March 30, 2005
5:35 AM

Post #1372211

I am gunna get a camera after the first of the month and I will take some pictures of the ones I have. I have added four or five and will keep working on it. Most all of mine are pretty young, so my experience at growing them is limited, but the perennials like Rudbeckia californica, Solidago california, Ericameria cuneatus, Sphaeracula ambigua are about as tall as they are going to get but they will spread. The Malactothamni are really just getting started. The California nutmeg is growing very slowly, but is putting out some buds now. I got that at Rancho Santa Ana fall sale a year and a half ago. They are pretty hard to find, so I do not want to lose it.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

March 30, 2005
4:04 PM

Post #1372869

Nice photos, Kelli. Now I'm even more anxious for my Yankee Point to bloom! I think I have some Owl's Clover coming up -- I'll get a picture if it does.

When we're putting new plants in the DB, is it okay to copy some details from elsewhere on the web? Las Pilitas has lots of good info on natives -- genus, cultivar, growth habit, etc. Since I buy 99% of my plants there, it's my main resource for info.

Speaking of resources, have you or Chuck found any good books with photos on natives?

Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

March 30, 2005
4:30 PM

Post #1372922

There are number of them out there. Plus lots of info online. Generally I start with google or yahoo, see what is there on a particular plant, you can usually find a picture and plant information. It has been harder to find pictures of what I want my yard to "look" like when it is farther along. I know in my head but have not seen many pictures the resemble that. "Selected Plants for Southern California" has both natives and others that will do well in most of Southern California. Actually Sunset is an OK starter, but it is very limited. Lenz's book on natives is excellent. If you got to Amazon and put in one book they will usually suggest another, eventually you get one that looks good based on the reviews.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 2, 2005
10:23 PM

Post #1379845

Ceanothus is there. I've uploaded several of my pictures of it to PlantFiles:

Thumbnail by Clare_CA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 3, 2005
5:23 PM

Post #1381129

LOL, Clare -- I put my nose to the ground this morning to look at the ONE blossom on my ceanothus! Next year will be much better, I'm sure. Yours is a beaut.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 3, 2005
6:33 PM

Post #1381195

Thanks, Kaperc! This one above is about five feet tall and is Julia Phelps, I believe. My other one, Dark Star, is only a couple of feet tall and starts to bloom at the end of November. Isn't that weird? For two years in a row, that one puts on a show between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think it blooms in the spring too. Here's a picture taken at the end of November:

Thumbnail by Clare_CA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 3, 2005
6:35 PM

Post #1381197

Here's the same one blooming last March:

Thumbnail by Clare_CA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 3, 2005
6:38 PM

Post #1381205

Here's the other bigger one, Julia Phelps. It is hard not to notice those stunning blue flowers.

As I drive on Highway 118 through Moorpark toward Somis, I can see huge bushes of Ceanothus growing by the side of the highway. They have some large nurseries along that 118 that I've never been to but would love to go one of these days.

Thumbnail by Clare_CA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Kelli
L.A. (Canoga Park), CA
(Zone 10a)

April 3, 2005
7:03 PM

Post #1381239

Wow! Those are great. I really like the color of the darker blue ceanothus. I've never had Dark Star bloom in the fall. It's probably too wore out from the brutally hot summers we have here.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 3, 2005
7:29 PM

Post #1381277

Thanks, Kelli! It gets pretty hot here too, but it probably stays about 10 degrees cooler, depending upon where you are in Los Angeles. That could be it, but the other one, Julia Phelps, doesn't bloom in November and December so it is a mystery why this one does. It is great to get flowers that time of year.

Thumbnail by Clare_CA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 3, 2005
10:39 PM

Post #1381528

There are at least 50 ceanothus that are commonly grown in California. As a result of recent efforts on several people's part we now have four or five listed. I was out in the Carissa Plains on Thursday and took the Pozo Road back. There were several ceanothus in heavy bloom C. cuneatus (white) and C. spinosus (light blue, almost white) Also some prickly phlox and a monardella. I will go back in a few months and see about some prickly phlox seed and the monardella. Several manzanitas were right along the road. At the higher elevations on the Pozo Road there is a great diversity of secies. There was a orange fiddle-necked flower that looked great, not sure of the name.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
5:17 AM

Post #1382207

Clare, those are all beautiful.

I had to go look on my list to see which ceanothus we planted in our first phase: Yankee Point, Tassajara Blue, Concha, and Snow Flurry.

I think I saw the Snow Flurry blooming, but it's at the top of the slope and I'll have to go take a closer look -- the white flowers blend with the sky looking up.

The gophers took quite a few -- we planted about 30. I need to go back and re-label some of them, too, because I can't remember which is which now.

When the gophers do a job, they really do it. Sometimes all we had left to show that a plant had been there was the depression in the ground -- even the tag was gone. :-(

Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 4, 2005
5:46 AM

Post #1382233

Snow Flurry is one of my favorites. I have a young one, about 4 ft tall. I like C. aboreus and its named selections like Cliff Schmidt. The larger, smooth, shiny leaves are nice. They get to be small trees and are quite long-lived. There is another one that has very tiny leaves almost like short needles, the name escapes me right now. I have about twenty planted and one of my anchor plants is C. griesus horizontalis, though it is more trouble than it is worth, since it has to be constantly cut back to keep it as individual plants.
dwerland
Nipomo, CA
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2005
6:17 AM

Post #1382247

Chuck~~ Couple of things I wanted to mention 1- where in AG are you? 2~I am in Nipomo and I am so anxious to see your garden I will loan you my digital camera(even deliver it to you) so you can take pictures to show everyone else...3~~ took a field trip up to northern cal with my son to "gold country" and saw some manzineta trees, nothing like the scrubs that I have seen here, have you seen them locally where they are so pretty so smooth and so red? I would love to take my son to see some here locally.
thanks
Dayna
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 4, 2005
2:33 PM

Post #1382557

I live directly behind Wal+Mart with a wonderful view of their parking lot. Most of the local species do not get too big. They mostly blend in unless you are looking for them.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
3:35 PM

Post #1383244

Dayna,

I know what you mean about the manzanita. My brother lives on the side of a small mountain just below Yosemite. Every year they have to go through their "yard" and do safety prunings. One year we came back with a bundle of cuttings to use as perches for our parrots -- they ones they charge a fortune for in the bird stores. The wood is very hard, which is why it is used for perches -- also, it can be scrubbed clean. Those old plants are gorgeous, no matter the season.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
4:21 PM

Post #1383510

Chuck,

C. griesus horizontalis Yankee Point is what we have on our slope. Las Pilitas says it is good for slope stabilization, with a 10 ft spread. Are yours bigger than that?

The Tassajara Blue is a hybrid betw C. griesus horisontalis and C. arboreus -- to help provide a screen between us and the uphill neighbors. :-)


Kathleen
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 4, 2005
6:30 PM

Post #1383686

I keep mine pruned, which they respond well to, to about 4 feet in diameter. They would completely cover, along with the acacia redolens, my whole yard. I keep both pruned, doing it several times a year. Good thing I have a chipper. The C.s are supposed to be short-lived, but so far only a couple have died. They provide continuity to the yard, which would otherwise be a "jumbled mess" to quote my wife. Pruning frequently keeps the foliage very fresh. I do not prune from Dec to now so I get lots of blooms.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
6:55 PM

Post #1383717

Thanks, Kaperc. It sounds like you have some beauties too. I didn't know that gophers like them too! Here's a picture of Concha: http://www.laspilitas.com/plants/183.htm That particular site has lots of pictures and information about Ceanothus.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
7:01 PM

Post #1383723

Check out this page: http://www.laspilitas.com/groups/ceanothus/california_ceanothus.html
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 4, 2005
7:43 PM

Post #1383777

It is an interesting nursery. Right now is a good time to go as there are many natives in bloom along the way and Pozo road is a great one to take to see them. He doesn't really label anything, so you have to come with a list or get him to go around with you. He is open to the public on Saturday and I think Friday. I have gotten a number of good plants from him A. stanfordi(where I went to schoo) has a very dark trunk and is fairly tall. C. cuneatus, which died, but was beautiful and I will get it again. a couple of the monardellas, which everyone should have, Solidago californica and Rudbeckia californica, which are both great plants. I also got one of the malactothamnus, another great plant and a few others. I am not sure because I wasn't keeping track of where or when I got things in the beginning.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
8:27 PM

Post #1383833

I might not have mentioned it earlier, but I live just a few miles from the Las Pilitas in Escondido and we have purchased all of our plants there. Their information is very good, especially because they specify which plants will grow best where; you can prepare your own planting list with their database. We have a coastal influence, but get more cold in the winter than the coast, and the heat gets fierce just a few times a year, so we can pick and choose a lot. Also, LP offers a quantity discount and refunds for returned pots.

If you find Ceanothus Rubins Blue/Greg's Mt. Lilac on the list -- Greg Rubin is helping us choose our plants. He has a great web site for showing people what can be done with natives http://www.calown.com.

As for ceanothus not being long-lived, according to Las Pilitas that's because people amend soil, overwater, and fertilize. Since we're trying to keep maintenance down and keep our water bill in check, that suits us to a T!

Yesterday we transplanted the toyon seedlings we found under the mother plant -- keep fingers crossed for us!



Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 4, 2005
8:45 PM

Post #1383851

Some C.s live longer than others. C g. horizontalis is not a long-liver. I cut off all the water last year and that helped, getting rid of the mulch around them also helped as did cleaning underneath them to keep them drier. When they get the die-back, if you cut them way back sometimes you can save them. They root on their branches so often the main plant dies but the auxillary roots take over. The nice thing about C.g. horizontalis is that it can be pruned very heavily, branches over an inch in diameter can be cut and will resprout.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
8:57 PM

Post #1383862

Kalperc, how neat that you got your plants from them. I had no idea! I was just searching for information on Ceanothus and found their web site, and they seem to know their stuff. My fingers are crossed for you and your seedlings. I am trying to get my mother to plant some Ceanothus in her yard. She just bought a house and is planning a front yard landscape. Ceanothus would be perfect for her in her climate, and since she rarely waters and neglects her plants, Ceanothus would probably thrive for her, which is more than I can say for the other plants that I've given her;-)
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 4, 2005
9:13 PM

Post #1383887

It takes getting used to -- depriving plants of water! I keep wanting to go out and water, but resist the urge and they grow anyway. Clare, your mom and I must be cut from the same cloth -- absolutely push the Ceanothus idea. Maybe if you call it mountain lilac she'll like it better?

We do have to re-mulch before the hot weather -- the darn stuff just slides down the slope. My DH is zigzagging some steps across so I can get around easier and not step on plants. After the heavy rains, though, I went round and pushed the mulch away from the plants and some of them perked up immediately.
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 4, 2005
10:43 PM

Post #1384050

Mulch is a killer here for many natives, it never gets very hot so the mulch stays wet for months at a time if you do any watering. In this area, I would advocate not using mulch for natives, they stay too wet. Fremontia and wooly blue curls cannot handle much if any water after the first year.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 5, 2005
3:52 AM

Post #1384645

We don't need to worry much about wet mulch. Between the sun and the breezes we get, everything dries out pretty quickly. Also, we are blessed with good drainage.

We really need to mulch for the weeds as well -- talk about death to natives! We just had to have our weeds (hip high) sprayed and now we'll have to get them taken out. Our neighbor uphill has not attended to his as yet, but the fire department just sent notices around, so he will probably be mowing soon. This is the bad side of the rain we got this year. Then there's the heat in the summer, when everything gets tinder dry -- we need to keep any moisture we can in the soil. We also need to pick plants that don't burn too hot to put near the house, and we're using gravel a lot.

It's interesting to hear how differently these plants need to be handled in different parts of the state.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 5, 2005
7:21 PM

Post #1385784

Kaperc, I'm sure you are a much better gardener than my mom! To tell you the truth, I have my large Ceanothus planted between roses, a brugmansia, and felicia, and I do water every day. I try not to get much on the Ceanothus, but it can't be helped. I think my only saving grace is that the soil is like sand here and dries out extremely quickly. Like you, we get winds and breezes quite a bit which dry everything out even more. I keep an eye on my Ceanothus for any sign of too much water, and it looks beautiful with no complaints. We even got over 30 inches of rain this winter, and there is no problem so perhaps its all about what medium it is planted in. If my soil retained water at all, it would probably be a goner. I even have red wood barK chips as decorative mulch. I've got to remulch too and am going to Home Depot today. I think you and I are cut from the same cloth:-)

I just used Roundup on our back area which is covered in crab grass, and hubby bought some of that cloth/fabric that supresses weeds, and we'll probably lay down gravel or rocks back there too. Otherwise, it is a never ending battle between us and the crab grass. My elderly neighbor's back area is covered in crab grass, and all she has her gardener do is cut it, and it naturally comes over to our area. My other neighbor has English Ivy growing in his back area, which also creeps into our area so, between the two of them, I'm either fighting one or the other.
Gourd
Mesilla Park, NM

April 6, 2005
2:22 AM

Post #1386443

I am so happy that you all are discussing California Natives, although I have tried many many plants and killed several that were not suited for this area..., I finally realized that I should stick to natives if possible, so now I have to learn which plants are California Natives.

This weekend the three plants I did get are (2) White Sage-Salvia apiana and (2)Black Sage Salvia mellifera, and three pots of Pride of Madiera (Echium). I am learning from all of you that post and trying to keep a xeriscape garden of sorts. It is not easy getting rid of the crabgrass that's for sure. I have to start somewhere. Thanks for all the info you are posting. I love those California ceonothus (sp).. I will surely be looking for some of those.
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 6, 2005
2:42 AM

Post #1386470

Salvia apiana is a wonderful plant. Beautiful foliage, great smell when you brush by it and the flowers are neat too. It can be very touchy though, so don't get too discouraged if it doesn't make it. I have planted it about six times and never had one make it a year. I bought some seed and going propagate lots, try them in many different locations, see if I can get at least one to grow. Salvia mellifera is native this area, San Luis Obispo county, grows very well, though it is not very spectacular. The echium is a fast grower, but doesn't live very long and gets very rangy. Beautiful flowers though. If you dead head it, it will usually rebloom. When looking for ceanothus, start with the cultivars, they are usually hardier and better able to adapt to regular garden watering. Same with the CA salvias. If you do not have a salvia leucantha, get one of those next. They are very tough, can handle most water situations and bloom their hearts out all summer. You need to cut them to the ground after they start to wilt in Nov-Jan, before the new shoots start coming. Otw you will have an unsightly mess, or you will have to snake throught the new shoots which are very tender to get rid of the old ones.
Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 6, 2005
4:41 AM

Post #1386663

I agree about the Mexican Salvia! I love it! Antoinette, I got my Ceanothus in one-gallon containers at Home Depot for just a couple of bucks.

Thumbnail by Clare_CA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Clare_CA

(Zone 10b)

April 6, 2005
4:44 AM

Post #1386669

It goes really well with Mexican Flame Vine and Lantana too. I have Bouvardia ternifolia in the middle, which is probably not native, but it does really well without any care at all so it should be!

Thumbnail by Clare_CA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 6, 2005
4:47 AM

Post #1386671

Salvia leucantha comes in several different forms, different cultivars, if you look around you can find them. There is a much darker one as well as the bi-color. I am not sure if there is a white one, that would be interesting.

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