Las Pilitas Nursery

California Native Plants are all we grow!

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

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This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

What to look for when you buy a native plant.

Ok, here's a little insight into native plant purchasing.

Native plants are wild. Some of the hybrids have had some of the wild breed out of them and are not nearly as tough. So something with a species name is usually tougher than one without. In other words Salvia mellifera repens is more drought tolerant the Salvia 'Dara Choice', but 'Dara's Choice is more garden tolerant. So next to a lawn, 'Dara's Choice', on dry slope, Salvia mellifera repens.

The nursery should be growing them as they want to be planted out, sun loving plants in sun, shade plants in shade. A plant grown in 70% usually fails when planted in full sun. Sometimes they 'melt', sometimes they just die.

The plants should be hardened off, not fat and succulent, unless of course they are succulents...They should have leathery leaves with a few spots and maybe a few spots here and there from being exposed to the real world. Pre-stressed is what one of the architects calls them. Native plants should not look like lettuce. Even Miners Lettuce looks tough as we go into spring.

This was a photo of some of the gallons stock in the nursery. How many native plants are under the foliage? - grid24_12
Some natives are relatively fast and look good when the root ball is plantable.
Shining Netvein Barberry Mahonia dictyota flowers. The plants are SO slow I'm not sure we'll ever have any for sale. A decade for a gallon plant. If we get them into the nursery they will be about $50 per plants. - grid24_12
Other natives take a decade to fill in and get leaf spot as it's the same leaf that was there 8 years ago. It looks this ugly and cost $30? AND, the root ball will be smaller as it has been weeded for ten years while the soil is slowly compressing and breaking down.
The root ball is best when it  just  shows all the way around the outside. BUT, it can be solid and work as long as you can still run a finger along the edge  and uncoil it. The root ball should be brown, black, tawny, with a few off-white roots where the new growth is. There are very few native plants with lilly white roots. (Maybe Lillies, Lobelias, Mimulus and and other annuals or riparian species.) In all of the the plant and it roots should smell good.
Ceanothus has roots that swell up and make a home for nitrogen fixing bacteria that are called Frankia. - grid24_12
Some of the native plants can have nitrogen fixing roots.
Valley Oak, Quercus lobata, roots showing saprophytes, ectomycorrhiza, a worm on the soil. - grid24_12
Most natives can have roots showing saprophytes, mycorrhiza, or a worm on the soil.
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