California Native Plant
Why plant natives? Enjoy reduced watering, mowing, and fertilizing, feel the satisfaction of creating habitat for insects, birds, reptiles, and other organisms, and savor the connection between yourself and the land.
To Feed the Birds, First Feed the Bugs Doug Tallamy explains how gardeners can enhance biodiversity and slow the rate of extinction by planting natives in their yards. NY Times.
Why Native Plants Matter In creating a native plant landscape, gardeners become part of a collective effort to preserve birds and the insects they need to survive. Audubon.
Why Garden with Native Plants You can enjoy many benefits while bringing the beauty of California into your garden by using water-wise native plants. California DWR.
Habitat Value of Our Gardens Native plant gardens may help save birds, butterflies, bees, toads, frogs and other beneficial creatures, that have lost habitat due to development by providing foraging opportunities. Nancy Bauer.
Creating Habitat and Restoring Ecosystems in Your Garden
Living Landscapes Haven Keirs presents advice on creating layered habitat gardens that provide beauty as well as refuge for beneficial insects. CNPS.
Habitat Gardening Attract birds, butterflies, and other life to your garden with native plants that coevolved with native fauna. CNPS.
How To: A Bird-Friendly Yard Steps to create a bird sanctuary that saves water and combats climate change. Audubon.
The Watershed Approach Your garden can gather rainwater to cycle back into the ecosystem. G3 Green Gardens Group.
Public Rain Gardens in Elk Grove and Sacramento demonstrate inexpensive and effective means of capturing storm water runoff for plant growth and soil enrichment. Cities of Elk Grove and Sacramento
Designing Your Garden
Native Planting Guides: Planting for Your Location Plant lists by CA region, including plant needs, landscape design plans, help with site preparation, hardscape, and habitat. CNPS.
How to Design a Native Plant Garden Consider plant communities, climate, water resources and drainage, plant size and life cycle, and critters in mind. Las Pilitas.
California Native Planting Plan A 10-foot by 10-foot native garden design from Arboretum experts. See also the All-Star planting plan, and a planting plan for wildlife. UC Davis Arboretum.
California Native Habitat Garden A 1000 sf native plant garden plan for birds and pollinators. Designed for the LA area, but useful in the Sacramento Valley. Theodore Payne Foundation.
Garden Inspiration Garden plans for shade, sun, privacy, median strips, and pots, including plant quantities. Bloom! California.
Native Garden Installation Slide show illustrating prep and installation, including lawn removal, site and soil analysis, design concepts, construction, and maintenance. Links to garden plans from City of San Jose. Earthcare Landscaping.
Getting Started with Native Plants A guide to preparing your site, designing your garden, and installing plants. Theodore Payne Foundation.
Water Wise Gardening in the Gold Country Region Garden galleries, planting plan, plants, and resources for irrigation, design and maintenance of a water-wise garden. Regional Water Authority.
Miridae Design Build. Email. (530) 723-6207. A team of landscape professionals creates ecologically beneficial yards and public spaces.
Ecological Landscape Design. Email. (530) 756-2078. Bernadette Balics. Sustainable materials, natural processes, and local ecosystems.
Happy Grow Lucky. Email. (916) 225-8625. Mark Shaffer. Native habitats and edible landscapes to “bring the inhabitants of our environment together.”
Brodeur Landscapes. Email. (415) 529-8617. Nicole Brodeur. Sustainable and regenerative approach to California native plant landscaping.
Preparing, Planting, and Maintaining Your Native Garden
Native Garden Installation Slide show illustrating lawn removal, site and soil analysis, design concepts, construction, and maintenance. Links to garden plans from City of San Jose. Earthcare Landscaping.
Digging Deeper Tips and cautions for keeping your landscape healthy. Control weeds and pests, prune, and learn about clean nursery practices. CNPS.
Watering California Native Plants Best practices for watering new and established native plants. See link to 7 steps for a drought-tolerant garden. CNPS.
California Invasive Plant Inventory Database Use the Plants tab to identify environmentally harmful horticultural and other plants. California Invasive Plant Council.
Find Plants that Fit
Calscape Find the right native plants for your location. Search by plant name or by address, or use Advanced Search to select desired plant characteristics. CNPS and UC Berkeley Jepson Herbarium.
California’s New Front Yard: Creating a Low-Water Landscape Lawn alternatives include groundcovers, meadows, kitchen gardens, rock gardens, and chaparral. Sacramento County.
UC Davis Arboretum Plant Database Check the California native box, leave other selections blank and hit Search to limit the list to CA native plants. Look for native all-stars plants at UC Davis Arboretum plant sales.
CalFlora Comprehensive information on wild California plants. Use What Grows Here to ID existing plants in a location, or use the Planting Guide to find suitable native plants for your address. CalFlora.
Pollinator Plants for California Native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators and suitable for gardens. Xerces.
Native Plants Database Search this Audubon tool by zip code for a limited list of native plants that provide ecosystem services for birds.
California Native Plant database. Plant descriptions in the context of their uses in garden design. Regional Water Authority.
If your landscape includes native oaks, use these California Oak Foundation publications:
- Oak Tree Care Brochures about acorns, lichens, galls, and more.
- Compatible Plants Under & Around Oaks
Planting under oak trees in California Plants that are commonly associated with California oaks. Las Pilitas Nursery.
Gardening with Natives
- Sources and Nurseries for Native Plants Suitable for the Sacramento Area (see also Calscape)
- Sac Valley Drought-Tolerant California Native Shrubs
- Local Native Plant List for the Sacramento Region
- California Native Plants That Attract Hummingbirds
- Deer Resistant California Native Plants
SacValley Chapter Plant Sales
SacValley Chapter plant sales take place in spring and fall at SacValley CNPS Nursery & Gardens, located at Soil Born Farms, 2140 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670. Plants are ordered online and picked up at prescheduled times. Plant sales are announced on the Chapter website and in the monthly eNewsletter.
CNPS chapters throughout the state hold plant sales during the year. Near Sacramento:
Nurseries and Seeds
Nursery at Camp Pollock Natives at Sacramento Valley Conservancy’s nursery on the Lower American River Parkway.
Miridae Mobile Nursery Curbside native plant sales throughout Sacramento in support of science education nonprofit, Miridae Living Labs.
Find native plants, in season at these 3 Sacramento nurseries: Talini’s, The Plant Foundry, Mother Natives, find out farms.
Cornflower Farms Native plants for the wholesale trade. Limited availability at CNPS plant sales. Elk Grove.
UC Davis Arboretum Plants and seeds available at sales throughout the year. Davis.
Annie’s Annuals Annuals & perennials, including hard to find California native wildflowers. Richmond.
California Flora Nursery California natives and other plants adapted to a Mediterranean climate. Fulton.
Floral Native Nursery Retail and wholesale nursery with natives for landscaping and restoration. Chico.
Hedgerow Farms Wholesale and retail sale of seeds and plugs of California native grasses, forbs, sedges and rushes. Often available at CNPS sales. Winters.
Larner Seeds. Seeds from over 200 species of California native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, vines, & trees, as well as live plants. Bolinas.
Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery 100% native California plants. Their website contains many links on garden design and plant selection. Santa Margarita.
Theodore Payne Foundation California native seeds and plants, including chaparral shrubs, trees, grasses, vines, wildflowers, and uncommon species. Sun Valley.
Nursery Search Tools
Calscape Look for the link to “Nurseries carry this plant” in each plant description or use the Advanced Search feature to limit your search to specific nurseries. CNPS.
Find Your Nursery Map and list of nurseries offering native plants that have partnered with Bloom! California (CNPS).
California Native Plant Link Exchange (CNPLX) Choose native plants for a location in the state and find out who sells them and how to grow them. Based on information from CalFlora.
Plant Native Extensive list of nurseries and conservation agencies in California
Take Inspiration from Examples
- SacMag article on the Heacox garden, 2014
- Ecological Landscape Alliance Newsletter article featuring GGN gardens
CNPS Garden Ambassadors in your community share their gardens through photos as well as virtual and in-person visits.
Books are best for deep dives. Information is vetted and organized for sustained treatment of a subject without the distractions built into many websites.
Explore articles, news and archives in CNPS journals, magazines, and bulletins.
Shop for books on flora and other natural wonders, as well as posters, prints, shirts, and more in the CNPS Bookstore.
Recommendations from Non-Profit Sources
Books Our Botanists Use – California Books recommended by the U.S. Forest Service.
Theodore Payne Foundation Store – Books and Guides A wide selection of books on garden design, horticulture, ethnobotany, natural history, and more.
University of California Press boasts a solid list of California native plant-related titles with options for buying them from multiple sources, including local bookstores.
General Book Hubs
Bookshop.org lets you order books (of every kind) while supporting a bookstore of your choice. Search by author, title or keywords: “California native plants” works, or get creative with “California bees,” “western states galls,” and so on.
Your public library has troves of books on plants, gardening, horticulture, pollinators, and the rest. In the region:
- Sacramento Public Library Sac County residents can use their free library account to put books on hold, request that books be sent to their branch, and even pull books from outside the region with Link+.
- Yolo County Library provides the same services to Yolo Co. residents.
Sacramento Valley Chapter of CNPS
- The Bulletin and Hibiscus Sac Valley chapter’s newsletters.
- SacValley CNPS Nursery and Gardens Buy local native plants for restoration and gardening.
- Homegrown Habitat Help bees, birds, butterflies and all of nature by planting natives in your home, school, and community gardens.
- Friday Walks Seed collecting and plant identification.
Cal Flora Wild California plants for conservation, education, and appreciation.
Local Government Agencies
City of Sacramento River Friendly Landscape Rebates Department of Utilities rebates to customers to help pay for water efficient upgrades.
Sacramento County Water Agency Landscape Rebates Rebates for converting existing turf to native and drought tolerant landscaping.
City of Roseville Environmental Utilities Cash for Grass Rebate Program Landscape and irrigation rebates (funds may be temporarily exhausted).
Suggested Resources from Local Gardeners
Google searches for <California native plant gardening> and related terms turn up troves of information. Add <site:edu> or <site:org> or <site:gov> to your search to limit the results to educational, non-profit, or government organizations.
Evaluating Landscape Effects of Turf Replacement
UC ANR: California Elderberries Have Rich Benefits for Farms and Diets