Spring has come to California and drought-resistant or native plants are a good option for residents looking to add some new plants to their gardens.
Drought-resistant plants are those that are considered water efficient. Including drought-resistant plants in one’s home and garden can help save money because though they still do require water, they need significantly less than other plants.
“When people think about California native plants, they usually do something that makes California look desert-y, but you can mix it up to bring life to your yard as well,” said Mike Wronkowski, nursery manager at Green Thumb Nursery. “If you want to do drought-resistant plants you also don’t have to do just California natives. There are also Australian natives that are very common out here.”
Lavender are good flowers for hot temperatures and love the sun. Bees are drawn to lavender, so they are a good plant to have if you are growing fruit trees or any other edible plants that require pollination. Though their blooms will generally only last from the late spring into summer, they will remain green year-round.
Also known as California lilacs, these plants flower early in the spring and also draw a lot of bee activity to gardens.
Another plant that thrives in the heat, fuschias bloom in the late spring and the flowers can last all the way through the fall. Fuschias also bring gardens to life by attracting hummingbirds, another great pollinator. Fuchsias come in a variety of different colors and there are many Australian varieties that also grow well in California.
Dubbed the “Dr. Hurd,” these plants are very hardy and bloom in the summer months. Wronkowski recommends them for people who want to ad some plants underneath a large tree like an oak because they can grow well in either sun or shade and are able to tolerate the ph level of the soil beneath these trees.
This California native plant blooms red in the spring and is another good hummingbird attractor.
Toyon is a popular shrub native to California that grow red berries when they bloom that add color and variety to gardens. Unfortunately, these berries aren’t edible and are just for show.
The flannel bush is of Wronkowski’s favorite plants. These California natives are very hardy and can grow very tall with large yellow flowers. “The only way to kill this plant is to over water it, so you just need to make sure you have proper drainage.”
It takes about a year of being planted in the ground for drought-resistant plants to mature and take on their drought-resistant qualities. The can be planted any time from autumn through spring. However, planting in the summer months will cause the plants to die of heat. Though they are drought-resistant, it is still important to water these plants 1 to 2 gallons every other day in hot weather and every three days in cooler weather.
While other desert plants, like those from Australia, can handle the Santa Clarita weather, they aren’t used to the local soil and require a little aid. Wronkowski recommends a mixture of 70 percent grow mulch to 30 percent native soil when adding non-native plants. Mulch can be added to native plants right after planting to help retain moisture and fertilizer can be added once a year to add nutrients, but neither is necessary.
The advantage of planting native California plants is that they can tolerate the local climate as well as the Santa Clarita soil conditions. The only mistakes people tend to make that kill these plants is burying the roots too deep and drowning their plants through overwatering.
“You really don’t have to do any preparation when planting a California native,” Wronkowski said. “You really only have to make sure that you aren’t planting them too deep, so dig your hole about twice as wide as the plant’s pot and one and half times as deep. Make sure that your root ball is a half-inch above ground and try not to put any soil on top of them.”