Colorful and easy-to-grow plants

Three beautiful flowering natives that can thrive in Bay Area gardens: wild lilacs, (Ceanothus), California Native sages (Salvias), and Douglas iris (iris douglasiana).

A. Wild lilac (Ceanothus)

  • Drought Tolerant, full sun, those with the smaller, tougher leaves like Ceanothus 'Dark Star' tend to be more deer resistant.

  • Our wild lilac loves full sun and prefers well-draining soil. It does not like to sit around with its roots wet. Heavy clay soils that hold water will lead to root rot. If you've got heavy clay soil, you'll need to amend it with compost before planting. The varieties 'Frosty Blue,' 'Blue Jeans,' 'Concha,' and 'Joyce Coulter' can tolerate heavier soils.

  • Ceanothus should be watered through its first summer only. Once it's established, it needs no additional water. In fact, watering in summer can lead to a premature death from root rot. They don't like to be fertilized either.
B. California Native Sages (Salvias)
  • California is home to 19 different sage species. Most are easy to grow, require full sun, good drainage, are drought tolerant and deer resistant. They're great for pollinators and are magnets for hummingbirds. The leaves often boast a sweet smell with a definite kick to it.

  • They can be used in teas, baths and bouquets, too, and produce great flowers in pinks, purples and a wide spectrum of blues.

  • They're a great addition to the vegetable garden, attracting beneficial insects and luring in needed pollinators.
C. Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana)
  • Full sun/light shade, drought tolerant, deer resistant.

  • The native coast iris is a beauty. Blooming in spring, flower colors range from deep purples to white to yellow. It's a hardy plant that will fill out nicely. It also does well in pots.
Why We Love The California Wild Lilac

  • The wild lilac is one of our earliest spring bloomers and certainly one of our most prolific flowering shrubs and when in bloom the plant gives off a musky-honey fragrance.

  • Ceanothus have a thick, shiny, dark-green leaf and the flowers are usually blue. The blues range from the pale blue of the Point Reyes ceanothus (Ceanothus gloriosus) to the deep purple of 'Dark Star,' which is a cross between C. impressus and C. papillosus. The ceanothus provides terrific food and shelter for birds and ceanothus seeds are loved by bushtits, mockingbirds, quail and finches.

  • It provides a sweet treat for bees, butterflies and moths as they feast on the nectar when the plants in bloom. Also, the plants dense root system aids in erosion control.

  • There are approximately 43 species of ceanothus in California. They range from low-lying ground covers like 'Yankee Point' to the near treelike statuesque beauty of 'Ray Hartman.' Most grow to 5 to 6 feet tall.

    Where to get the plants:

    The plants featured on the show and thousands more will be available at the San Francisco Botanical Garden's Annual Plant Sale, the largest plant sale in Northern California.

    Over 20,000 plants, more than 4,000 different varieties, many propagated from the Garden's collection. All proceeds go to keep the garden thriving!

    Members Only Preview Sale:
    Friday, April 30, 5-8 p.m. Memberships available onsite

    Public sale:
    Saturday, May , 10a.m.-2 p.m.

    San Francisco Botanical Garden
    Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park and 9th Avenue
    Location in park: Wildflower Meadow
    Phone: (415)-661-1316

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