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I like color in my garden. Can I use California natives and still have color year-round?

A: Spring will be the most colorful time of the year with blue and white California lilacs, orange poppies, purple and red penstemons, and wildflowers of all colors. 

  • Summer with its soft tans, grays and sage-green will be accented with red-flowering California fuchsias and pink desert willows.

  • Autumn has the red foliage of California grapes and the blue berries of Mahonia which add color.

  •  In winter there is the brilliant red berries of our own Christmas berry or Toyon.   
Our Mediterranean climate allows us to grow almost any plant with the addition of water and fertilizer. Plants native to southern California are adapted to its unique climate of long, hot, dry summers and mild, often wet winters.  The subdued sage-green and gray colors, so common in the natural California landscape, is one such adaptation.  The hillsides, though, do not remain subdued year around.  Following the winter rains, many plants burst into a vibrant floral display second to none.  Look below at the seasonal color chart.
Apricot Mallow Abutilon palmeri Shrub Apricot flowers, soft gray leaves
California Lilac Ceanothus species Shrub Blue, violet, pink or white flowers
California Poppy Eschscholzia californica Annual/Perennial Bright orange flowers
Fuchsia-flowered Gooseberry Ribes speciosum Shrub Red flowers
Lilac Verbena Verbena lilacina (De La Mina)


Lilac-colored flowers
Monkeyflower hybrid Mimulus spp.


Orange, yellow, red, purple, white or pink flowers
Penstemon Penstemon spp.


Many colors, depending on variety
Annual Wildflowers Eschscholzia californica, etc. Annual Many easy-to-grow wildflowers
Bush Sunflower Encelia californica


Yellow daisy-like flowers
California Fuchsia Zauschneria californica


Cultivars- red, orange, white, pink (late summer to fall)
Desert Willow Chilopsis linearis Tree Purple, lavender, pink, or white


Golden Abundance Mahonia (Golden Abundance) Shrub Clusters of blue berries
San Diego Sunflower Viguiera lacinata Sub-Shrub Yellow daisy flowers
Roger's Red Calif. Wild Grape Vitis californica (Roger's Red) Vine Red folia
California Lilac Ceanothus spp. Shrub Blue, white, violet or pink flowers
Gooseberries and Currants Ribes spp. Shrub Pink, white, red, or yellow (early winter blooms provide food for hummingbirds)
Manzanita Arctostaphylos  spp. Shrub Light pink, white


Heteromeles arbutifolia Shrub Red, orange or yellow berries