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Natives for Spring Planting

Spring has sprung and many of us are anxious to get our hands into the soil.   Hopefully, you will be able to pick up some native plants at the California Native Plant Society spring sale being held Saturday, April 18th from 9:00am to 1:00pm.  Located in the West America Bank parking lot, at 14729 E. Mono Way in East Sonora, the sale will be held rain or shine.  And be there early—the best plants are often snapped up as soon as the sale opens!

But, wait, we’ve been taught that native plants need to be put into the ground in the fall.  Why buy natives in the spring?  You have to look mainly at the natural habitat a plant prefers to understand why.

Many deciduous shrubs, riparian and woodland species thrive when planted in the spring.  They are adapted to more moderate summer conditions, with greater moisture either from summer rain or their situation in deeper soils along water courses.  Also, plants growing at higher elevations undergo a winter rather than summer dormant season.  

Examples of these plants are:

  •     California bay
  •     Bigleaf maple
  •     Philadelphus or mock orange
  •     Spicebush
  •     Ninebark
  •     Cedars
  •     Redwoods
  •     and dogwoods  

Perennials suitable for woodland or moist gardens are:

  •    Columbine
  •    Bleeding heart
  •    Monkey flowers
  •    Ferns
  •    Fringe cups
  •    Iris
  •    Wild ginger
  •    Leopard lily

Many lower elevation native perennials do well in a garden setting also:

  •    Foothill penstemon
  •    Achillea or yarrow
  •    Slender cinquefoil or Potentilla
  •    Heucheras or alum roots
  •    Blue flax
  •    Erigeron or seaside daisies
  •    Lupine 
  • They all like a sunny garden setting and supplemental water.Our all time favorite, the California poppy, responds to a little extra care with a much longer bloom period than in the wild.

    One final excuse for spring planting is just the pure joy of the season.  Come make friends with some of the wonderful native plants just waiting to jump into your gardens!

    Mary Anderson, a Calaveras County Master Gardener and owner of Lost Hills Nursery, has spent the last 25 years getting to know California native plants on her 10-acre property and propagates many native plants from the seeds of her ‘mother plants.’ As one of the original members of the Sierra Foothills Chapter of the California Native Plant Society she shares her wonderful knowledge of native plants at the twice-yearly Native Plant Sale.