Las Pilitas Nursery

California Native Plants are all we grow!

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
Fri. & Sat. from 9am-4pm
8331 Nelson Way
Escondido, CA 92026
Tues. to Sat. from 9am-4pm

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

Native Plant Gardening

Here is the basic dirt about planting a native plant garden in California.

It doesn't rain in California from May to November.
Most of the soils in California are considered infertile.
It's hot and dry in summer, cool and moist in winter.
Humidities are generally low, but can be very low in summer.
We have a rather extreme Mediterranean Climate. Before you get all misty about Lavender, Lavender grows in a climate closer to Medford, Oregon than Los Angeles or Fresno. And our El Ninos knock out a lot of the desert species, not to mention those 100 year frosts that seem to be happening more often with climate change. Historically California had an 80 year drought in the 1500's and no measurable rain in 1847.
California is very diverse from nearly 0 rainfall to 120 inches. Just because it grows in California doesn't mean it's for you. Again, think about it.
So...
No soil amending. Where did someone get the idea that a Native California hillside had fertilizer worked into it. Maybe someone selling a load of stuff?
Stop watering native plants in summer if you possibly can and as soon as you can. NEVER use drip. Overhead irrigation is fine.
Expect your native plants to look a little worse for wear in summer. You can hose off the foliage to make them look a little better, but try not to water them in summer after the first season.
Stay as close to your plant community as you can. Do not plant redwoods in Bakersfield or cactus in Eureka. This doesn't have to be perfect, but if you want manzanitas maybe you should move from Barstow.
Some plants need a climate. If you live in Los Angeles or San Francisco you may not be able to grow some of the plants from the interior.
Water is going to get very expensive and scarce on many years. With climate change I expect droughts that will be intense and flooding. We may be working with no outside irrigation in a few decades.
Ok, now read the rest of the page and click on the links and get going. There's a California to save!

You can build native gardens for bumblebees, insects, insect pollinators, insect predators, butterflies, hummingbirds, or birds.

If you don't want to build a native garden for wildlife, build it for yourself and fill it with Ceanothus, Gooseberries or Currants, Honeysuckles, Manzanitas, Monkey Flowers, Oaks, Penstemons, Sages, trees, or Vines.
Predrill the holes before you put the screws in or you'll split the wood. - grid24_12
How to build stuff like fences, greenhouse, chairs, decks, birdhouses, bird baths, etc..
How to plant a native plant. Dig a hole, plant the plant at grade level, and water a lot at first. AND THEN ENJOY THE GARDEN. - grid24_12

How to Plant California Native Plants.
Videos and everything!

Printable Planting Guide
A simple one page how to plant.
Arctostaphylos manzanita, Austin Griffiths, makes a very good eight foot or so hedge - grid24_12
Why not enhance your garden with a native hedge?
A natural recovery of a California ecosystem after a fire.NO grasses or weeds. - grid24_12
How to restore a native ecosystem. A more detailed page about native restoration is here.
Sauromalus obesus, Chuckwalla. I know a few people that fit this profile. - grid24_12
You might also be interested in some of our Wildlife Articles, with information about California wildlife and plants wildlife prefer.
Along a similar line are plant strategies R-C-S, why some plants tolerate drip irrigation.

How different is California from the rest of the United States? California plants have problems in other areas.
Help with irrigation, soil problems, slopes, shady garden plants, and fragrant native plants.
California deer would love to visit your garden.  - grid24_6
Designing a native garden with deer present. Usually if you have to deal with deer you are in a fire area.
Salvia dorrii, Desert sage, with Yucca brevifolia along the edge of the  Mojave desert. - grid24_12
Drought resistant plants In the 1500's California had an 80 years drought and the native plants survived.
This is the index page for most of the native garden related pages on our website.
We have such a huge site and the pages are fairly diverse so here is an attempt to organize them for you.

Design help. A tool to search for plants for your garden.


Design Your Native Garden with a series of small steps. Do not try to be too grandiose until you've worked through some of the website. Start the garden in the back corner and work your way up to the house.

You can read about the plant communities here, along with how native landscaping makes economic and environmental sense. Learn how to pick your vegetables as you watch the hummingbirds, and see gardens of some of our customers. How to plant a native plant and all sorts of design ideas and help. We've also built a series of how to build stuff from bird houses to fences. Learn how to maintain your native garden after you've planted it.

You can build a garden for seasonal color. Plant for flowers in February, May, August or even November.