What Are Native Plants?

A native plant thrives naturally in a region, ecosystem or habitat without human introduction. Native plants are vital components of healthy and resilient ecosystems. They provide ecosystems services such as food and habitat for native wildlife. Unfortunately, invasive species, climate change and land use change have reduce the number and habitat of native plants.

Native plants make great additions to any garden, requiring little maintenance and little to no watering once established. Choose native plants to promote biodiversity and healthy ecosystems in the region by creating habitat for local wildlife including migrating birds and pollinators. Adapted to our Northern Mediterranean climate, native plants are often pest and disease free with no watering and fertilizer required. Spend less time working on your garden and more time enjoying it with native plants.

Benefits of Native Plants

  • Little to no watering once established
  • No fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides needed
  • Create habitat and food sources for local beneficial insects and wildlife
  • Help manage rain water runoff
  • Reduce soil compaction with deep root systems
  • Sustainable alternative to non-native and invasive species

Creating a Native Plant Garden

Putting the right plant in the right place is the secret to successful gardening. When buying plants, consider the sun exposure and soil conditions of your garden. Group plants with similar water needs to save time and water. Adding drought tolerant native plants will reduce watering and maintenance time.

For more information on native plants gardening, please see our Native Plant Workshops section.

Gardening with Native Plant Tips

  • Plant native species in the fall so roots are more established by the following spring.
  • Choose drought tolerant native plants for the border between your lawn and sidewalk or driveway as well as slopes. The native plants can use runoff coming off your lawn and stop it from running to the storm drain.
  • Look for drought tolerant native plants with fuzzy, waxy or silver, aromatic or finely divided foliage or plants that are dormant in the heat of the summer.
  • Do not take native plants from the wild as it can harm natural habitats.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are plants, animals and microbes that are not native to a region and that tend to out-compete native species for available resources. Avoid planting invasive plants including daphne, English ivy, periwinkle, English holly and Japanese knotweed. Watch for invasive plants in wildflower mixes and labels that say "vigorous self-seeders" or "rapid spreaders."

Join our free gardening with native plant webinars:

  • Embracing the Wild: Native Plant Workshop with Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary.
    Spring 2023 dates now posted!
  • Lawn to Native Plant Meadow Webinar with Satinflower Nursery.