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Planting Guide


California Native Planting Guide

Group plants with similar water requirement together

Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant root ball.

If the ground is dry, fill the hole at least 2 times (more with very dry soil) with water and let it drain from the hole.

Carefully remove the pot from around the plant’s root ball and place the plant into the hole, with the crown of the plant about 1/2 inch above the surrounding grade.

Normally soil amendments are not necessary or desirable.

Backfill the hole with soil.

Place mulch, 2 to 4 inches thick, on top of the soil around the plant in a 3-4 foot diameter circle.

Leave a small circle of bare dirt right next to the main stem.

The best mulch is oak leaf mulch, shredded redwood, or shredded cedar bark. Composted green-waste will also work. Generously water plant. The first watering is the most important. You cannot overwater the first time!

Plant Maintenance


After the initial planting most natives benefit from some supplemental irrigation. The amount of supplemental irrigation depends upon the origin of the plant and the time of year the plants were installed. Immediately after planting water heavily (avoid long soggy periods) and then reduce the amount water after a few months. For the first year the plants should be checked regularly for soil moisture content. Check 1-2 inches below soil surface for moisture and if dry, add supplemental water. For the second and succeeding years water during the months of December through April. Water during the hot summer months should be minimized. Desert plants, which are used to summer rain showers, and coastal plants like a once a week sprinkling. Many hybrids also require more summer supplemental water.

The planting keys help to define just how much supplemental water each plant may need. One drop indicates that the plant should be watered once per month or allowed to naturalize. Four drops, which is a lot by native standards, means you should water 4 times per month.

It is recommended not to use drip irrigation. If necessary convert drip systems to micro spray emitters so that the plant will be irrigated in a pattern more similar to rainfall. If you use micro sprays it is best not to spray on the main plant stem as this weaken the plant. Traditional rotors and spray sprinklers may provide a lower maintenance alternative to micro spray systems.


Use a generous portion of mulch to retain moisture, reduce weed growth and cool roots. Do not apply mulch within 6” of plants crown


Fertilizer is usually not necessary but can be used in the late Fall and early Spring at half the dose recommended by the manufacturer.


Pruning can greatly enhance the attractiveness of California native plants. Arctostaphylos and Ceanothus can be pruned to achieve desired form and grasses should be cut back hard at least once per year.