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Rivers and Ponds

Fresh Water Marsh 300+ cm rainfall, always wet, high humidity

Riparian 300+ cm rainfall, usually  wet, high humidity

Pond Plants 300+ cm rainfall, always wet, high humidity

When you're driving around look at creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, etc. . This habitat is the first few feet away from the water. In the shallow shoals along rivers this habitat may extend for a mile or more.

Where does the habitat occur?

World-wide you will always find the same type of plants next to water.

This is the habitat that most of the cultivated plants have come from. Some plants like Rushes(Juncus) and Sedges(Carex) are circumpolar along the wet areas. Plants that are considered drought tolerant in the horticultural trades commonly come from this habitat (Oleander, Star Jasmine, Gladiolus, Russian Olive, etc.)

When should you plant?


How to plant:

1. These habitats are very fertile. No fertilizer is needed.

2. Plants from this habitat need water. Some (as the ones above) can become drought tolerant with work, but look bad or dead at the level of drought commonly experienced in most of the West. Most vegetables and many of the fruit trees come from streamsides. It is very important, if you create one of these habitats, to use transitional plants between these watered areas ( rivers, ponds, lawns, vegetable gardens, English flower gardens, ) and dry areas. ( Between a lawn and a dry slope, between a lawn and an oak tree, between a veggie garden and a dryland garden )

Below is a list of transitional plants that can be used between these wet habitats and the dry areas. Look at your individual site or an adjacent area.


Cercis Redbud

Cercocarpus Mountain Mahogany

Chilopsis (in desert gardens only)

Cornus Dogwoods

Fraxinus Ash

Juglans Walnut

Malus Crab apple

Myrica Wax Myrtle

Populus Cottonwood

Prunus Cherry, Plum

Rhamnus Coffeeberry, Redberry

Rhus Poison Oak, Squaw Bush, Sugar Bush

Ribes Currants, Gooseberry

Rosa Roses(wild preferred, hybrid ok)

Salix Willow

Sambucus Elderberry

Non-natives that can do the same thing

Acacia Fruit trees


Melaleuca Roses


Thyme Ulmus (Elm)

Possible problems:

1. Weeds, weeds and more weeds. You haven't seen weeds until you try to plant a stream bank. TEN crops in one season are possible in some mild areas. Don't you wish weeds were worth something?

2. Riparian habitats are largely populated by ruderal plants. Ruderals have little or no protection from insects, herbivores or drought. Herbivores come to drink and eat, plant on it!

Conifer Forest


Rainfall [cm]



Closed Cone Pine Forest


Yellow Pine Forest


Douglas Fir


Red Fir Forest


Loblolly , Slash Pine


Montane Forest


Where does this habitat occur?

Ringing the N.Pole. In N.America it extends down into central Canada.

Why does the habitat occur?

Occasional permafrost, frost at anytime, drought, and the total darkness of the arctic circle, in winter.

When should you plant?

Early 'Summer'

How to plant:

1. The natives of this habitat are easy; just dig and plant. For vegetables or lawn you'll need to amend and fertilize to have anything acceptable.

2. Ask around. This habitat is unforgiving. If no one has planted the plant before in that area, do not buy 100's of them. In this climate the knowledge of an experienced gardener or landscaper that has lived there for 10-20 years or more (the longer the better) is wonderful and should be accepted. If they pass your tests (look at their work and ask questions), be willing to pay a premium for their assistance.

Possible Problems:

1. Cold.

2. If the plants are watered more than a few times they may not have enough time to harden off by winter.

3. Even if you don't water at all, the plants can push new growth and freeze.

Where does the habitat occur?

A forest of pines, firs, larches, spruces, cedars and hemlocks. (Some authors consider members of the Podocarpus and Araucariaceae family to be conifers; for our purposes I don't.)
All over the temperate regions of the N.Hemispere. Introduced into many other areas at the expense of the original native flora and fauna.

Why does the habitat occur?

1. Acidic soils with good quantities of seasonal rain.

2. Usually soils are granitic or sandy.

3. Although there is seasonal stress it is manageable within the ecology of the forest. If the heat and drought stress moves beyond these manageable limits the habitat will switch to Temperate Mixed, Brush or Woodland. When should you plant?

Spring is easiest. If little or no herbivores are present fall planting is ok. If the climate is one of the milder ones winter planting is excellent. If you have water and can water, summer planting is fine. In other words, for most plants, in most sites, planting all year is ok as long as you know the pitfalls.

How to plant.

1. Fertility is death to forests. Water moves through these systems and fertilizer can negatively impact large areas of an ecosystem. Be careful where you put the vegetable gardens, lawn, or conventional gardens. Put them away from the trees if at all possible. If your trees start exhibiting high levels of disease and pest problems you're too close. ( Use the transitional plants in areas between the conventional gardens and the trees; see list in the Rivers and Ponds habitat)

2. This habitat has soils of low fertility and moderate to high acidity. To make the items listed in # 1 happy you'll need to amend the soil, add fertility, lime, and water.

3. For species that like your site and need little or no water, dig a hole, and plant.

Possible problems:

If you overindulge your desire to make a "statement" through your garden, you'll kill the forest.

The forest has an environmental presence that can suppress and/or kill your 'drought tolerants' if the wrong plants are planted for the habitat. (That's why we have a number of plants on file that are very difficult for you to use.)
Other places you might find us roaming about:

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Copyright 1992-2014 Las Pilitas Nursery
Edited on Oct 24, 2018. Authors:
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