Native gardening: New to natives?


You are probably already aware of the many benefits of gardening with natives, such as reduced water, lower maintenance, and habitat for local birds and insects. We assembled this page to help you find the resources you need to start gardening with native plants-- resources such as where to get plants, how to choose plants, how to design your yard, and where to turn for professional advice.


For starters, it helps to be aware of some differences between native plants and traditional garden plants:

Some natives aren’t very happy in pots and don’t always look their best until after they’ve been planted and had some time to adapt.

Some native plants have a dormant or “sleep” season, when they are taking a rest and not looking their best. This can vary between Summer, Fall, or Winter. Be mindful of dormant periods when designing your landscape AND when selecting plants at the nursery.

Most native plants will not want fertilizer and will often use much less water than traditional plants. For gardeners, it’s an exercise in restraint: we often need to retrain ourselves to do less for native plants, rather than more.

Landscaping with native plants is a different paradigm—the emphasis is on emulating nature as opposed to pure ornamental horticulture. The goal is to be pleasing but look natural, effortless.

Botanical names can at first appear intimidating, but they play an important role as they allow you to purchase the specific plant you desire, rather than the often multi-purpose common names. Most nursery staff members assist us by being “bilingual” in English and botanical, and for this we thank them!

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A growing number of commercial nurseries carry native plants; however, the best selection is available from nurseries that specialize in natives. Please see the list of retail  (and wholesale) nurseries on our plant sources page for a nursery close to you. Mail order is available from some nurseries.

Please note that our San Gabriel Mountains chapter of CNPS has a plant sale every year, usually in November, and we invite you to join us. Your support is much appreciated!

Since native plants represent a very different paradigm from traditional horticulture, many landscape professionals (designers, architects, nursery staff) are unfamiliar with native plants and will not be adequately able to assist you.

Ready for more? Read about how to design your landscape and select plants.

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