The Ultimate Guide to Your Own Native SoCal Garden - Leaf'd

The Ultimate Guide to Your Own Native SoCal Garden

by Sofia Russi
IMG 6931 2 Whether you’re renovating your garden or just planning to add some green to your indoors, landscaping choices have important consequences on the lives of insects and birds that depend on native flora to survive. There are many reasons why you should opt for indigenous plants: Follow this guide to learn all the basics to start the conservation and help keep California looking like California.

Why Choose Native?

The number one reason why you should opt for a native garden is that it requires little to no watering. California was just recently declared out of the worst drought of the past 1200 years, and hopefully learned a lesson about the importance of minimizing water consumption. However, the jury is still out on drought or no drought. A lush green lawn and tropical gardens are just not sustainable on this side of the planet. If everybody in California would turn off their sprinklers and opt for a native garden, it would save the country 5-7% in water. Now that’s impressive! A native garden also requires very low maintenance, which means that the time and money you would spend gardening can instead be spent relaxing and enjoying your self-sustaining urban oasis. And chances are  you won’t be alone! Native vegetation creates a truly irresistible call for wildlife, and in no time, you’ll be able to enjoy the company of hummingbirds, butterflies and other indigenous pollinators and small animals. Pests won’t be a problem any longer, since native flora has evolved to co-exist with insects, so this will cut down on your use of chemicals, too. This can have very important consequences on the ecological health and balance of your area; native plants play an active role in the water cycle and add cooling moisture to the atmosphere.

Where Do I Start?

The best way to get truly local, native vegetations is to obtain them through nurseries. The California Native Plant Society offers a comprehensive list of nurseries based on your location. The Theodore Payne Foundation in the San Fernando Valley is the only local native nursery in the Los Angeles area. Established in 1960, this nonprofit is home to an art gallery, seed room, bookstore, and they also run courses and workshops free of charge for all members. Each of their plants comes labelled with all the necessary information about its needs, flowering season, and how to best take care of it – but if you still have doubts or questions, you can ask for help from one of the 250 amazing volunteers who work at the Foundation. The people behind Tree of Life Nursery made it their mission to “propagate California native plants with the notion that the developed hillsides and open spaces in the state were in desperate need of returning to their natural, beautiful forms,” and keeping California looking like California. Located in San Juan Capistrano, this nursery is  considered an institution in the field and offers a great variety of resources for all levels, from beginners to expert gardeners. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is, in all respects, a living museum, one of 30 gardens accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and it’s worth a visit, particularly in springtime. The Garden is home to a staggering collection of 1000 native California plants, as well as a world-class scientific research center and periodically hosts educational programs to increase environmental knowledge within the community, and to develop the skills and expertise to help conservation.

What if I Live in an Apartment?

Indigenous plants are known for their resilience and many of them do well in a pot while they clean the air in your home or office.  We asked Anna from @thetopsoil on Instagram, an LA native and California conservationist, for her best recommendations on easy to keep indoor plants:           Sansevieria (Snake Tongue)                                             Pothos Sansevieria Snake Planthouse plant sustainable Picture by @montroseplants.                                             Picture by @plantkween.                ZAMIA (ZZ PLANT)                                                         DIEFFENBACHIA (DUMB CANE) ZZ Plant dieffenbachia 1               Picture by @leahwolffdesign.


peperomiaIndoor plants come with the extra benefit of filtering the air of your home and office. A study conducted by NASA shows that Sanseviera out of all California natives might be the most effective at removing chemicals linked to health effects such as eye irritation and headaches. Scientists recommend having at least one plant per 100 square meters, just remember that some of these plants might be toxic to cats or dogs. If you are a pet owner, always check the toxicity of the plants before introducing them into your home.
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