Perennials: 175 California natives

This segment includes more than 115 perennials for dry conditions, and 60 more that require supplemental watering. All are interesting and beautiful, and most are easy to grow and are available in native plant nurseries or California Native Plant Society sales, in your own plant community.

Each perennial listing includes:

Description of plant; bloom time and appearance; any aroma; size of plant at maturity; whether it requires Summer water or not; whether it likes sun or shade; whether or not it is toxic in any way; if it is allopathic; what medicinal properties are known; how to propagate it; in what plant communities it is found in nature; in what counties and at what altitude; what water and soil requirement is has and how adaptable.

For example:

Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri

Grows from a creeping rhizome. A big container is the perfect place to put them, because when they are contented, they become invasive! Each stalk is unbranched, with bluegreen leaves; huge crepe-like white saucers, with big yellow stems are unmistakable. Bloom May to August and often longer. Needs sun and heat, and no Summer water, and during the Winter it needs perfect drainage. This plant has idiosyncratic and unpredictable needs. It will sulk and die in what you would think would be a perfect place, and thrive gloriously in an apparently unsuitable one. They were first found south of Ojai, on the road to a hot spring, and they are very hard to find in nature today. If you grow your own, you can keep them in a vase for many days. Plants are expensive in a native nursery, but one or two will multiply to all you want in a very few years. Cut back in the Fall to near the ground. Propagate by root division. If you must grow by seed, use gibberellic acid-3, or try the fire treatment. Seed doesn’t work very well. Look for them in dry washes and canyons away from the coast, away from the fog, and below 4000’, in the Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub communities from the Santa Ana mountains to San Diego county, but very adaptable anywhere in those plant communities.

Added bonuses:

  • “Best Methods of Perennial Propagation,” listed by plant
  • Shirley McPheeters on “Propagating perennials from cuttings,”
  • how to get started: a two-page sheet on the ”Basics of the Basics,”
  • a short glossary of words perhaps unfamiliar to you,
  • a list of most of the native plant nurseries in California.
  • 5 websities showing native plants in color.