The Basics & Plant Communities

The Basics

Originally a small book (you can still find a few in native plant nurseries), The Basics is the ONLY thorough printed information about how to grow California native plants. Others tantalize, but none tells you:

  • how to convert your garden or part of it to natives;
  • basic watering principles;
  • where and what to look for in buying a plant (the rules are different);
  • how to handle the root ball and other planting guidelines;
  • the ground rules for natives, and many other concerns.

No one else teaches you this, but you really need to learn it if you are to be successful. Natives really are different. Why is it usually a mistake to water in the summer? Why not fertilize them — or at least add compost — to your natives? Yet why is mulching fine? Why not rototill or even cultivate the ground around natives, and what do you do instead? What replaces fertility and water in the soil?

Added are a glossary and a list of most of the native plant nurseries in California. Added bonus: three websites that show, in color, individual native plants, by common or latinate names.

California native plant communities

What is a plant community and why is it more important than Sunset’s climate zones? How does it work and what is yours? What is the history of the idea; how did the Nature Conservancy get involved; which plants grow together and why do plants grow in particular soils.

This is the (moving) big picture that will give you what you need to know to identify and nurture a beautiful California native plant landscape and enjoy the wildlife that comes with it.