California Native Plant Society

The Three 'P's of Native Plant Gardening

Plant local

  • Use plants that are as local as possible
  • While creating native landscapes can never replace natural habitats lost to development, planting gardens, parks, and roadsides with California native plants can help provide an important bridge to nearby remaining wild areas. Many insects as well as animals depend upon native plants for food and shelter.
  • Pair plants that grow together in nature such as in chaparral or oak woodlands - these are called “plant communities”
  • Like all living things, native plants grow best under natural and familiar conditions, also known as biotic communities. Choosing plants that are native to your region will help ensure their optimum health and performance.
  • Replace your conventional, water-thirsty non-native plants...but if you must have a lawn, check here
  • Do Not Use invasive plants!

Plant Light

  • Group plants with similar water, sun and soil needs
  • Space your plants (see page 7 of this CNPS Bulletin) properly to allow them to grow to their genetic destiny, meaning their mature size in terms of height and width. Plantings in nature are typically spaced greater than in our gardens. This natural planting spacing will bring you closest to the ideal of no artificial irrigation
  • Use water wisely
  • Wildlife will use your garden. So if you must prune, schedule this for when it least impacts wildlife. This will also reduce green waste
  • Build healthy soils by allowing leaf litter to stay in place
  • Convert to organic gardening methods
  • Consider wind as a drying agent: if wind protection is added, where possible, less water is needed.
  • Design your garden to use natural rainfall
  • Water during cooler hours of the day
  • Design and adjust your sprinkler system to only apply water where needed

Plant Well


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