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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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California native plants that grow in full shade

What we are calling full shade is shade under a dense canopy of evergreen trees, not under a deck or other solid structure. Some light must penetrate in order for the plants to photosynthesize. Don't forget that our full shade may not be like your full shade. Most people can give a little more sun to many of these plants. Look on each individual plant's description (the links) to get more precise information about each plant's needs or to order it.

Wild Ginger is a really neat little perennial with heart-shaped leaves that likes full shade. Wild ginger smells spicy in a nice way. The flower is the best thing about this plant. There are three petals (sepals) with 1 to 2 inch, spur-like projections. The inside is white with a red center. The flowers are about 0.5 to 1 inch wide. This creeping perennial is native in the redwood forest and yellow pine forest so it may need a little moisture in other areas.
Think about that north wall that is really moist and shady. Think about that shady parking garage planting bed that someone designed.
shade of an central oak woodland - grid24_12
We have a number of Coast Live Oaks on the property. We do not water under the oaks but have a number of plants growing in their shade.
The strange and beautiful flowers of Aristolochia californica, California Pipevine. - grid24_6
California Pipevine (also called) Dutchman's pipe is a vigorous deciduous vine with heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are totally strange; shaped like a pipe, colored green with reddish brown stripes and reddish brown sepals. The flowers emerge first, then the leaves. It is the larval food plant for the pipe vine swallowtail butterfly. It does fine in our demonstration garden with no extra water; don't forget our area only receives 20 inches of rainfall/year. The background picture for this page is of Dutchman's pipe, before the leaves have appeared.

A small movie about California Pipevine

Bush Anemone,  Carpenteria californica is a nice clean bush that explodes into flower. Try this plant in a container or large pot if you have a deck or patio. - grid24_6
Bush Anemone is an evergreen shrub, usually reaching 6 ft. high by 3 ft. wide in the garden. Bush anemone can be drought tolerant in town, but generally needs regular water.

A short video of Bush Anemone

Aralia californica elk clover leaves - grid24_6
Elk Clover A lovely bush found close to the coast in Marin county, Elk Clover is green and leafy, grows about 6 ft. high, and spreading to 6 ft. wide with many amazing white starbursts of flowers at the end of upright stems. Each starburst is made of multiple white spokes forming a round ball the size of a pingpong ball. An email asking for i.d., described it better than me.
Blackfruit Dogwood, Cornus sessilis grows in moist shade. - grid24_6
Blackfruit Dogwood is a deciduous shrub to 15 feet from northern California, growing in part to full shade, with good soil moisture, and is a good background plant for a moist section of a woodland or forest garden.
Leymus condensatus, Giant wildrye and syn. Elymus condensatus is more like a small bush - grid24_12
Giant Wild Rye is a large clumping, green grass. Although it will not work in heavy shade it will work under most oaks. Usually not aggressive, it has a better form when given some sun. Giant wild rye is happy in the shade but loses that little bit of legginess when allowed some morning sun. No supplemental water is given.
Cornus stolonifera, Red Stem Dogwood fall color with it's red stems makes the California stems turn red in fall. - grid24_6
Red Stem Dogwood is an elegant open deciduous shrub with creamy white flower clusters in spring and whose red stems shine so, in the winter.

A short video about Cornus stolonifera, Red Stem Dogwood.

The sticky monkey flower - grid24_6
Many of the monkey flowers will tolerate full shade even near the coast. Sticky Monkey flower pictured here can be found under oaks in coastal cities.

This is a short video about Ramona monkey flower.

Fragaria californica Wood Strawberry is edible and although small, tasty It makes a low ground cover in moist shade. - grid24_6
What Wood Strawberries lack in size, they make up for in flavor. They are rich and sweet. They also make an excellent ground cover. They like a little extra water, as they are native in coastal areas where they receive extra rainfall from fog drip and in several of the California mountains where they receive extra rainfall.

A short video about California Wood Strawberry.

Heuchera maxima, Island Alum Root - grid24_6
Island Alum Root is a two foot perennial with 3' spikes of small pinkish flowers emerging from February to April. Needs part shade to shade.
Very drought tolerant near the coast and in areas of cool summers. In interior heat needs a little wash off once a week or so.

A short video about Heuchera maxima. Rainfall needs to be higher in the interior heat.

Heuchera merriamii, Siskiyou Alum Root, is very diminutive, with delicate creamy white flowers, and is at its best grown in groups. of three or more.  - grid24_6
Siskiyou Alum Root needs a little water.
heuchera micrantha is a cutie - grid24_6
Alumroot is a dainty little perennial with reddish green foliage and dainty cream-colored flower clusters that may reach 3 ft in height.
Heuchera rubescens var. glandulosa, Jack o the Rocks, grows in rocky areas,  has red stems and white to pink flowers, which make a good contrast. - grid24_6
Jack o the Rocks. grows in full shade but it needs regular water.
Here is a nursery photo of Iris hartwegii, Sierra Iris, from Santa Margarita, California. - grid24_6
Sierra Iris.is a pretty yellow Iris that likes moist shade or wet sun. It goes deciduous in the winter. It forms a neat little clump spreading slowly by short underground rhizomes.
This is an older photo of Holodiscus discolor, Cream Bush, in flower, with the flowering plant perfectly edging the walkway, in our Santa Margarita garden.  - grid24_6
Cream Bush is a very elegant shrub. It has arching branches, with soft light green foliage and large cream colored flower clusters. The flower clusters turn a chocolate color after a while and hang around through the winter. It works great in flower arrangements. It loves shade and is drought tolerant.

A short movie about

Douglas Iris flower - grid24_6
Douglas Iris is a delicate native iris with pastel pink, blue and purple flowers. It is very drought tolerant in the shade. It likes a little mulch.

This is the deep blue form of Douglas Iris.

Here is a closeup of the flowers and buds of Keckiella breviflora, Yawning Penstemon, under a Quercus agrifolia, in our Santa Margarita garden. - grid24_6
Yawning Penstemon is a delicate little bush penstemon and has pale lavender flowers lined with dark purple stripes. It has shiny gray foliage and arching gray stems. This bush penstemon is happy in full shade.

Short video of Keckiella breviflora Yawning Penstemon, Stubflower Penstemon, Gaping Penstemon and Bush Beardtongue.

Annas Hummingbird, Calypte anna, hanging on a wire for Keckiella cordifolia, Heart Leaf Penstemon. This Penstemon likes part shade. - grid24_6
Heart Leaved Penstemon seems to tolerate a lot of shade. It likes full sun only right next to the coast, and shade inland.

A short video about Keckiella cordifolia Heart Leaved Penstemon and Climbing Penstemon.

Lepechinia fragrans, Island Pitcher Sage grows on the island and from Ventura, through Los Angeles into the San Gabriel Mountains.  - grid24_6
Wallaces Pitcher sage is a shrub with light purple flowers. It has large, fragrant, clasping, opposite leaves. It does well in part or full shade and is drought tolerant.

Lepechinia fragrans Wallace's Pitcher Plant, Island Pitcher Sage and Fragrant Pitcher Sage

Lonicera ciliosa, Orange Honeysuckle or Western Trumpet Honeysuckle - grid24_6
Orange Honeysuckle is a delicate little honeysuckle with large, bright orange flowers. It grows in full shade on north facing slopes in northern California. We put it near the birdbath in the demonstration garden so it would get a little extra moisture.
This honeysuckle is native on the Santa margarita nursery site in part shade to cool full sun. Never on hot southern slopes, mostly east facing slopes. - grid24_12
Chaparral Honeysuckle, is very drought tolerant. It has pretty little yellow flowers, purplish stems, and clasping gray-green leaves.
Here is an older photo of the flowers of Lonicera hispidula, California Honeysuckle, with the bright yellow contrasting stamens.   - grid24_6
California Honeysuckle is a showy little honeysuckle with large pink flower clusters and large clasping leaves. It is very drought tolerant and can handle shade.

A short video of Lonicera hispidula California Honeysuckle.

Mahonia pinnata Shinyleaf Mahonia planted out and the santa margarita nursery. - grid24_6
Shinyleaf Mahonia or California Barberry is erect and not as bushy, as other Oregon Grapes, though it has the same yellow flowers and blue berries. California Barberry is more drought tolerant. The leaves are very holly-like.

A short video of Mahonia pinnata, Shinyleaf Mahonia or California Barberry.

This is an old photo of a young coyote, whose name was given to Monardella villosa, Coyote Mint.  - grid24_3
A Coyote amongst the mint.
Monardella subglabra (Monardella purpurea x Monardella villosa), Mint Bush, is a natural hybrid, found growing where the two species meet.  - grid24_12
Monardella subglabra is one of the more popular Coyote Mints.
Monardella villosa obispoensis - grid24_12
Fuzzy Coyote Mint grows in small openings in the remaining forests of southern Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties.
The Pale Swallowtail butterfly loves Monardella villosa, Coyote Mint.  - grid24_12
Coyote mint has light purple flowers and a minty fragrance. It likes to grow under coast live oaks and is very drought tolerant. It is a great butterfly flower. It grows about a foot tall.
Physocarpus capitatus Ninebark, flowers are white, seed pods are bright red. - grid24_6
Ninebark grows in seeps or creeks in full shade to part sun. In cool coastal gardens it can grow on the edge of full sun.
Pycnanthemum californicum Mountain Mint - grid24_6
Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum californicumis a fragrant perennial herb with dense clusters of small, white flowers (with lavender spots).
Ribes roezlii, Sierra Gooseberry, is a showy, wide-ranging gooseberry, of the California mountains.  - grid24_12
Sierra Gooseberry is a wonderful showy deciduous shrub with edible berries (great for gooseberry jam).

A short video about Rhamnus californica, Coffeeberry. Sometimes called Frangula

Rhamnus crocea ilicifolia, Hollyleaf Redberry flowers are greenish and liked by bees and flies. - grid24_6
Hollyleaf Redberry is an evergreen shrub to 3-9 ft., that is native to dry slopes in the coast ranges and Sierra Nevada foothills.

A short video of Rhamnus crocea ilicifolia, Hollyleaf Redberry.

Ribes aureum gracillimum, Golden Currant with Anna Hummingbird. This native plant grows on the north slopes of Malibu, Latigo,  and through the Los Angeles Basin; San Gabriel Valley. - grid24_6
Golden Currant grows under and between native trees.

A movie about Golden Currant, Ribes aureum gracillimum

White Chaparral Currant, Ribes indecorum is native from southern Monterey Co., to San Diego, it used to be a common shrub throughout the Los Angeles basin and the Santa Monica Mountains. - grid24_6
White Chaparral Currant makes showy sprays of white flowers under our oaks from November through February. This currant seems to be able to grow in full shade or part shade.

White Chaparral Currant, Ribes indecorum in flower

Ribes menziesii, Canyon Gooseberry, with its distinctive purple-red-white flowers and lobed leaves.  - grid24_6
Canyon Gooseberry has many forms that are native to the coast ranges of California and the Sierra Nevada mountains and ranges into southern Oregon.

A small movie of Canyon Gooseberry, Ribes menzesii with a bumblebee.

Ribes nevadense, Pink Sierra Currant with Swallowtail - grid24_6
Pink Sierra Currant grows in shade to full sun in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In most California gardens it likes full to partial shade and regular water.

A short video of Ribes nevadense, Pink Sierra Currant.

Ribes sanguineum glutinosum, Pink-Flowered Currant (wetter spot) mixed with Golden Currant,  Ribes aureum gracillimum (drier spot). - grid24_6
Pink Flowering Currantis a five foot deciduous shrub with long showy pink flower clusters that cover the plant in January to March. In some places in the wild this currant grows in deep shade.

A video of Ribes sanguineum glutinosum, Pink-Flowered Currant.

Ribes viburnifolium, Catalina Currant, is an evergreen currant, with tiny reddish-pink flowers. - grid24_6
Catalina Perfume is a two to three foot evergreen perennial shrub that can grow to eight feet wide, but can be held easily in a two foot flower bed

A short video about Ribes viburnifolium, Evergreen Currant or Catalina Perfume.

Rosa gymnocarpa Wood Rose - grid24_6
Wood Rose grows under trees in nearly full shade.
Rosa pinetorum Whiskey Rose - grid24_6
Pine Rose grows in shade to part shade.
Thimbleberry can be very floriferous  - grid24_12
Thimbleberry is a woodsy berry that grows in forests where there is shade and moisture.
Rubus ursinus, Pacific blackberry - grid24_6
Pacific blackberry grows in moist part shade. It will survive in seasonally wet spots and even full sun.
A clump of Salvia spathacea, Hummingbird Sage as groundcover under Desert Willow next to Sulfur Buckwheat. - grid24_6
All of our Hummingbird Sages will work in part shade to full shade.

A short video about Salvia spathacea Topanga, Los Angeles Hummingbird Sage.

Satureja chandleri Shrubby Yerba Buena - grid24_6
Mountain Balm grows at the edge of oaks.

A short video about Satureja chandleri Shrubby Yerba Buena, Mountain Balm and San Miguel savory.

Yerba Buena, Satureja douglasii is a green groundcover. that will grow in light shade - grid24_6
Yerba Buena works well in shade. Planted in the gaps between pavers it will cover the patio with a flat fragrance.

A small video about Satureja douglasii, Yerba Buena.

Scrophularia atrata, Bumble Bee Plant - grid24_6
Black Figwort grows on the north slopes or under oaks.

A short video of Scrophularia atrata Bumble Bee Plant or Black Figwort

A short video of Solanum xanti hoffmannii.

Spiraea densiflora ssp. splendens, Rosy Spiraea, Alpine Spiraea, Mountain Spirea - grid24_6
Mountain Spirea is a little deciduous sub-shrub with reddish pink flowers in clusters two-three across

A short video of Spiraea densiflora splendens Mountain Spiraea

Spiraea douglasii Western Spiraea - grid24_6
Spiraea douglasii is a fast-growing, 4-5' deciduous shrub that loves part shade.

A short video about Spiraea douglasii Western Spiraea.

Stachys chamissonis, Magenta Butterfly Flower with hummingbird - grid24_6
Magenta Butterfly Flower likes regular water and part shade. It will do ok in full shade.

A short video about Stachys chamissonis Magenta Butterfly Flower.

Symphoricarpos albus laevigatus, Common Snowberry berries. - grid24_12
Common Snowberry is a chin-high, deciduous shrub, gradually forming a thicket by way of its rhizomes, or underground stems. Excellent under oaks.
Symphoricarpos mollis. Southern California Snowberry has pink flowers and white berries. - grid24_6
Creeping Snowberry grows in heavy shade, but can also grow in sum.
Tellima grandiflora,  Fringe cup flowers - grid24_6
Fringe cup is a groundcover or perennial for shady moist spots.
Thalictrum fendleri Mountain Meadow Rue - grid24_6
Mountain Meadow Rueis a perennial with delicate columbine -like leaves that is covered with spires of very airy, dainty flowers in spring.
Vaccinium ovatum Huckleberry - grid24_6
Huckleberry is a shrub related to the blueberry. It likes full shade in moist forested areas. It has light pink umbel flowers, reddish bark and shiny green foliage.
Venegasia carpesioides, Canyon Sunflower can be found on the north slopes and peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains and throughout greater Los Angeles. - grid24_6
Canyon sunflower likes moist shade. It would be good with a lot of mulch or in a moist shady rock garden. It dies back in the winter. Canyon sunflower is a small bush 2 to 3 ft tall. The sunflowers are around 2 inches wide.
Viola pedunculata, Violet clump - grid24_6
Our wild violets, or Johnny-jump-ups, Our wild violets, or Johnny-jump-ups, are happiest in clay soil under blue oaks. However they are also under Chamise, Ceanothus, and coast live oak. They seem to not be able to tolerate a lot of leaf litter. They get buried. The yellow flowers are a great addition to salads.
Whipplea modesta, Yerba de Selva and Whipplevine. - grid24_6
Whipplevine is a low growing herbaceous plant with small white flowers. It is happy in full shade. It is native along the coast ranges under the forest canopy.