california native evergreen shrubs

25 Most Attractive California Native Evergreen Shrubs

California has numerous native plants that spread from Southern to Northern California, including California native evergreen shrubs. These native plants usually grow fast, forming a grove that produces beautiful flowers and even fruits. Since they are evergreen, these California native plants can showcase their beauty all year long. Several species also have lovely fragrant flowers that lure local wildlife like pollinators to consume their nectar.

Moreover, they are very adaptable to the extreme weather California belongs to, making them easy to care for. Most of them love to grow under full sun, yet some prefer partial shade.

In addition, they also love low moisture and tend to be drought tolerant.

Many people try to plant California native evergreen shrubs in their native garden, thanks to these wonderful qualities. Below, we prepared an extended list of the most attractive California native evergreen shrubs you can consider planting. Check them out!

1. Black Sage (Salvia mellifera)

Despite its name being Black Sage, this native plant shows its tiny white flowers instead. The flowers emit lovely scents that attract birds or other pollinators to visit.

Speaking about growing conditions, it is the most common sage in California that prefers full sun, dry climate, yet cold-tolerant. 

Black Sage (Salvia mellifera)
Black Sage (Salvia mellifera),(Image credit: etsy/Pinterest)

Furthermore, Black Sage can grow very large, approaching 3-6 feet tall. This evergreen-deciduous shrub is usually planted as ground cover, butterfly garden, or birds garden since they require low maintenance, such as minimum watering – only two times a month.

2. Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea)

Besides Bladderpod, Peritoma arborea is also famous as Bladdepod Spiderflowers and Burro-Fat. The enchanting yellow clusters flowers are the hallmark of this California native evergreen shrub.

Also, thanks to their striking color and strong scents, pollinators are attracted to perch on it to enjoy the nectar.

Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea)
Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea),(Image credit: neelsnursery,calscape/Pinterest)

Moreover, Bladderpod loves to grow on alkaline soils and salty conditions. It also favors full sun and low moisture, just like common shrubs.

Even though this native plant is very easy to care for, you may encounter some problems related to pests, like the harlequin beetles. They are impossible to entirely remove, yet you can prune half of the plant to prevent spreading.

3. Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica)

This rare evergreen shrub is an endemic species that only grows in Fresno and Madera counties. Bush Anemone shows its charm when summer comes. White anemone-shaped flowers with yellow stamens will bloom perfectly, emitting pleasant fragrances that attract pollinators.

Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica)
Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica),(Image credit: calfloranursery,xeraplants/Pinterest)

In addition, Bush anemone prefers full sun to partial shade and tolerates any soil types. Even though it is hardy, you need to watch for aphids that can damage the bright green leaves. Pruning is also suggested to remove its floppy branches.

4. California Brittlebush (Encelia californica)

Encelia californica or more popular as California Brittlebush or California Bush Sunflower is one of the Southern California native evergreen shrubs that resemble sunflowers with yellow flowers and a brown center. 

California Brittlebush (Encelia californica)
California Brittlebush (Encelia californica),(Image credit: lacey,nathistoc bio uci/Pinterest)

Similar to other California native plants, it prefers partial shade to full sun and only needs once a week watering once established. Hence, this evergreen shrub is handy to take care of.

Nonetheless, considering its fast-growing rate, make sure to prune them after flowering to allow new growth.

5. California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

There are approximately 125 species of buckwheat that are native to California, including California Buckwheat. Since it grows beautiful clusters of tiny flowers, it belongs to California native flowering plants.

This native plant can grow up to 6.6 feet tall. 

California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)
California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum),(Image credit: mother natures backyard,reddit/Pinterest)

Moreover, this native plant thrives under the local climate, like full sun and dry soils. It is even very easy to grow under extreme weather. To keep their rounded clusters in shape, it is highly suggested to cut them every few years.

6. California Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron californicum)

The flannel-like texture of the leaves may be why this California native plant is known as California Flannel Bush. Along with California Brittlebush, it is one of the California native evergreen shrubs that produce striking yellow flowers. 

California Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron californicum)
California Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron californicum),(Image credit: potted,anne of green gardens/Pinterest)

Interestingly, this native plant can grow to up to 6-20 feet tall. Therefore, it will be perfect as a garden hedge. Nevertheless, since the leaves irritate the skin, do not plant them near places with much human access.

Moreover, the maintenance is quite simple. Just make sure to not over-prune this plant because it will kill them. Plus,

7. California Lilacs (Ceanothus)

True to its name, California Lilacs is eager to show its exquisite lilac flowers that indeed captivate anyone who sees them. Its round-shaped flower clusters bloom to the fullest in spring, offering you a breath-taking view if you plant them in your front yard.

California Lilacs (Ceanothus)
California Lilacs (Ceanothus),(Image credit: laspilitas/Pinterest)

Additionally, this native plant has wonderful scents that lure pollinators, like hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and moths, to perch and enjoy the nectar. And just like other plants mentioned above, California Lilacs love full sun yet prefer to stay in the shade if they are growing in scorching areas.

8. Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii)

If you like growing native plants with fruit, we suggest planting Catalina Cherry in your native garden. Not only because this plant species produces bright red cherries, but this native evergreen shrub will also invite birds, butterflies, and bees to join the pack.

Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii)
Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii),(Image credit: mother natures backyard)

In addition, this native plant actively grows from early spring to fall and can reach up to 40 feet tall.

Nonetheless, maintaining Catalina Cherry comes with challenges. Despite being resistant to oak root fungus, its roots attract gophers. And for that reason, you must remove them once you notice their presence – don’t delay.

You also recommended pruning this plant if you prefer a single trunk.

9. Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

It feels incomplete if we talk about California native evergreen shrubs without mentioning their pink flowers species. Cleveland Sage or Salvia clevelandii is one of Southern California native plants with pink to purple flowers. 

Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)
Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii),(Image credit: 2minutegardener,elnativogrowers/Pinterest)

The flowers also emit pleasant fragrances – another fantastic quality of this native species. For this reason, wildlife supporters are interested in pollinating the flowers.

In addition, this evergreen shrub loves partial shade and is fast-growing. Therefore, pruning them in the fall is preferable to reducing size.

10. Coastal Agave (Agave shawii)

Unlike other shrubs mentioned, Coastal Agave or Agave shawii has a succulent-like shape with dark green, ovate leaves. It generates flower clusters forming a high panicle that will develop 8-14 lateral umbels.

Each of them will be covered with charming yellow to red flowers.

Coastal Agave (Agave shawii)
Coastal Agave (Agave shawii),(Image credit: world of succulents/Pinterest)

Moreover, the growth of this native plant is slow. After 20-30 years, it only grows one rosette flower which will die after that. Hence, it needs little to no maintenance. Be aware of its marginal teeth if you decide to carefully prune it.

11. Deerbrush (Ceanothus integerrimus)

Another beautiful Ceanothus shrub bears white to blue flowers that spread pleasant scents. Its habitat is quite broad, from western United States, California, to Washington. Because of this, the dormancy of Deerbrush depends on its growing conditions.

Deerbrush (Ceanothus integerrimus)
Deerbrush (Ceanothus integerrimus),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

Some are evergreen shrubs, while the rests are winter and semi-winter deciduous.

Regarding its ideal growing conditions, this native plant thrives in extremely low moisture under full sun exposure. Furthermore, pruning the gangly trunks is preferable in late summer to allow compact growth.

12. Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

No one will wonder that this native plant, which has pink flowers with stamens like fairy wings, lives in deserts and arid grasslands. The flowers that show their best blooms between late spring and late winter will surely look like a diamond in the middle of the brown sand.

Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)
Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla),(Image credit: etsy/Pinterest)

Like a native desert shrub, Fairyduster is cold-tolerant. It does well under full sun and low moisture. In addition, sandy and decomposed granite soil are the shrub’s favorite.

This low-spreading shrub only needs three times a month watering, making it pretty handy to care for.

13. Island Snapdragon (Gambelia speciosa)

How can you resist the beauty of this California native evergreen shrub? Island Snapdragon is popular for its red trumpet-like flowers that often attract birds to suck on their blooms, particularly hummingbirds.

By this, its existence helps preserve local wildlife. 

Island Snapdragon (Gambelia speciosa)
Island Snapdragon (Gambelia speciosa),(Image credit: robert perry/Inlandvalleygardenplanner)

Slightly different from other California native plants, it prefers shady areas to grow. However, you can have more flowers when put under full sun. Additionally, this spreading shrub tolerates summer watering, but only twice a month since it prefers low moisture.

14. Malva Rosa (Malva assurgentiflora)

This California native evergreen shrub is an endemic shrub to California and can only be found in the Channel Islands. It has beautiful pink flowers that resemble roses, just like its name.

In addition, they also spark nice scents that further add to the beauty of this plant.

Malva Rosa (Malva assurgentiflora)
Malva Rosa (Malva assurgentiflora),(Image credit: etsy/Pinterest)

While other native California shrubs like dry or low moisture soils, Malve Rosa prefers well-draining soils to grow well. Hence, it is possible to do summer watering to keep the soil moist.

Moreover, this native flowering plant also tolerates different soils, such as clay and sand.

15. Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor)

Planting Mission Manzanita seems like offering free drinks and meals to pollinators, especially coyotes, Anna’s hummingbirds, California thrasher, and scrub jay. They will suck on its alluring pinkish flowers and eat the fruits.

It is also a comfy place to create nests for birds, or in other words, you support wildlife by keeping this native plant in your garden.

Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor)
Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor),(Image credit: ron king,bj stacey/Flickr)

Sadly, Mission Manzanita’s distribution area is very limited although not as rare as Vine Hill Manzanita which is considered a scarce native species.

However, it is still possible to keep the native plant yourself. It will grow best on dry slopes with fast-draining soil in early winter. Make sure to water twice every two weeks to keep the moisture.

16. Nevin’s Woolly Sunflower (Constancea nevinii)

Even though it bears the ‘Woolly’ name, Nevin’s Woolly Sunflower is not closely related to Woolly Blue Curls. This endemic evergreen shrub only grows in coastal sage scrub in the Channel Islands.

It has silver woolly leaves and stems with striking yellow flowers that are unique characteristics.

Nevin's Woolly Sunflower (Constancea nevinii)
Nevin’s Woolly Sunflower (Constancea nevinii),(Image credit: lindavistanatives,dave’s garden/Pinterest)

Moreover, this rare native plant was threatened because it was consumed by plant-eating animals, such as wild goats. Fortunately, it is effortless to take care of; thus, you can try to plant them.

Constancea nevinii loves full sun and low moisture, just like typical coastal shrubs. It is commonly grown in bee and butterfly gardens and will thrive best in coastal gardens.

17. Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla)

It is one of the California native evergreen shrubs that belong to the aromatic sage group. The beautiful purple flowers radiate a delightful aroma that makes many pollinators fascinated to drink off their nectars.

Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla)
Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

Not only is it a beautiful plant, but Purple Sage is also very easy to care for. It is a drought-tolerant native plant that tolerates extremely low moisture and thrives well under full sun.

Moreover, Purple Sage shows its best performance as ground cover.

18. Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)

Though having the name ‘Silver,’ this native plant does not even have a single shade of silver flower color. Instead, Silver Lupine bears graceful-looking small purple flowers that grow in long clusters.

It is a fast-growing shrub commonly found all over California, from the coasts to the mountains.

Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

Since it can form a grove which may be disturbing, you need to prune it to have long-lasting blooms. Besides, keeping good drainage and low moisture under full sun helps the native plant’s growth.

Under proper growing conditions, your Silver Lupine may have a long, happy life.

19. Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

Just like other California native evergreen shrubs, it has several different names, like Bush Monkey Flower, Diplacus aurantiacus, and Orange Bush Monkey Flower. But, do not be confused.

They all have striking orange to red flowers with dark green-sticky leaves where the native plant obtains its namesake.

Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus),(Image credit: marin cnps/Flickr)

This native plant favors full sun and partial shade with meager moisture in terms of growing conditions. Nonetheless, watering them twice a month during dry seasons is suggested.

To encourage fresh blooms, cut the dead flowers. In addition, to maintain its compact shape, pinch back the new growth in spring.

20. Thickleaf Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium)

We should admit that many California native evergreen shrubs produce eye-catching flowers, including this Thickleaf Yerba Santa.

This native plant has fragrant bell-shaped purple flowers with silvery-green woolly leaves covered in tiny hairs. Similar to Trichostema lanatum, Eriodictyon crassifolium also belongs to fire flowers.

Thickleaf Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium)
Thickleaf Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium),(Image credit: calscape)

Following other native California shrubs, it is a very easy native plant with a fast growth rate. Moreover, Thickleaf Yerba Santa prefers full sun and is perfect as hedge plants.

Once a month watering is necessary for summer as it grows well on fast-draining soil.

21. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)

Heteromeles arbutifolia is more popular in its common name Toyon and California Holly. It is a California native evergreen shrub that produces bright red berries, also known as Christmas Berry.

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia),(Image credit: heidi johnson/Pinterest)

Mockingbirds, American robins, and cedar waxwings will eat the fruits happily. Meanwhile, butterflies, bees, and other insects will suck on the nectars from their white flowers.

For areas prone to wildfire, Toyon is an ideal plant to grow in your front yard because it is fire-retardant if given enough moisture. It is also a handy plant to care for that tolerates broad types of soils.

Moreover, you only need to water them once a week – a bit more than other chaparral shrubs to ensure it has enough moisture.

22. Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

At a glance, Western Redbud looks like Japanese Cherry Blossoms that bloom beautifully in spring. Its stems bear stunning pink to magenta flowers that form a large shrub. And for that reason, cutting the branches is necessary to maintain the desired shape and height.

Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis),(Image credit: pete veilleux,birdgal5/Flickr)

Unlike other California native flowering plants, it tolerates almost all moist soil types. It favors full sun to partial shade and is cold-tolerant. Moreover, it only needs a maximum of once a week watering, making it an easy native plant to take care of in your front garden.

23. White Coast Ceanothus (Ceanothus verrucosus)

Other than White Coast Ceanothus, this rare species is also known as Barranca Brush and Wart-Stem Ceanothus. It is another California endemic evergreen shrub that spreads in Baja California and San Diego county.

White Coast Ceanothus (Ceanothus verrucosus)
White Coast Ceanothus (Ceanothus verrucosus),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

This native plant produces white flower clusters with a dark center that looks splendid in late winter to early spring. 

Compared to other Ceanothus species, White Coast Ceanothus is easier to care for in Southern California. It is more drought-tolerant and does slightly better with summer watering. And just like most shrubs, it goes well under full sun.

24. Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum)

Trichostema lanatum or Woolly Blue Curls has curly and woolly pink to blue-purple flowers that speak to its name. It is one of the most beautiful California native evergreen shrubs we have discovered.

Not only are the flowers stunning, but they also produce pleasant scents. 

Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum)
Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum),(Image credit: lindavistanatives/Pinterest)

Unfortunately, despite its captivating flowers, they are hard to live longer than a few years due to their nature as fire flowers.

However, if you are still determined to have this lovely native shrub in your garden, make sure to water them regularly during the first year. Once established, doing it once a month is enough.

25. Yellow Stem Bush Mallow (Malacothamnus densiflorus)

Its thin to dense yellow hairs covering the stems make this Southern California native plant is well-known as Yellow Stem Bush Mallow. It has spikelike pink flower clusters that display its stunning blooms in spring to early summer. 

Yellow Stem Bush Mallow (Malacothamnus densiflorus)
Yellow Stem Bush Mallow (Malacothamnus densiflorus),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

Moreover, Yellow Stem Bush Mallow is extremely drought-tolerant, making it an easy native plant to grow. Once it is established, the shrub only needs once a month watering.

Therefore, by planting this, you can also save water.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do shrubs love sun or shade?

Most California native evergreen shrubs prefer full sun as it resembles their habitats in nature. However, some of them can tolerate partial shade, for example, Bush Anemone, California Brittlebush, Cleveland Sage, Sticky Monkey Flower, and Western Redbud.

What shrubs are endemic to California?

From our lists above, some of the California native evergreen shrubs are endemic to certain regions of the state. For instance, Bush Anemone, Malva Rosa, Nevin’s Woolly Sunflower, and White Coast Ceanothus.

Suppose you want to know more about California native evergreen shrubs. In that case, you can visit the California native plant society and discover the diversity of California native plants. 

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