california native flowering plants

25 Top California Native Flowering Plants For Your Garden

Among all states in the U.S., California has the most plant diversity. It also includes California native flowering plants whose blooms vary in pink, purple, yellow, and white shades. They are well-adapted to severe weather, such as extreme heat, drought, and intense fire. Moreover, these native plants are helpful for local wildlife too. Some flowers are the source of nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Besides being beneficial to the local environment, people nowadays try to have their own native gardens because those native California plants do not need much watering.

They will also adorn your garden with their beautiful petals. Hence, we prepared a list of exquisite California native flowering plants that may be suitable to create a colorful front yard landscape.

1. Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Sphaeralcea ambigua, popular as Apricot Mallow or Desert Mallow, is a drought-tolerant native California plant that grows best in the dry desert climate. It bears striking orange flowers that provide nectar for bees and butterflies. 

Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua),(Image credit: ecrater/Pinterest)

Moreover, the plant is self-propagated with seeds; thus, it will occur naturally in your garden. To rejuvenate the plant, cut it off after flowering terms.

2. Beardtongue (Penstemon)

You may not believe that Beardtongue is one of the wild California native plants as it has stunning purple or pink flowers that attract pollinating insects. And thanks to this, it is also one of the most popular native plant gardens that bloom in early spring. 

Beardtongue (Penstemon)
Beardtongue (Penstemon),(Image credit: proven winners plants/Pinterest)

Similar to the previous native plant, Beardtongue is drought-tolerant that favors full sun. It only needs summer watering once a week.

3. Black Sage (Salvia mellifera)

Despite its name being Black Sage, this native plant shows its tiny white flowers instead. It is the most common sage in California that prefers full sun, dry climate, yet cold-tolerance to an extended degree. 

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

Furthermore, Black Sage 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.

4. Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

The green color with petite blue flowers from Blue-Eyed Grass provides a beautiful view of your native garden that is pleasing to the eye. It is undoubtedly called Blue-Eyed since the beautiful flowers are just like slender eyes. 

Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)
Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), (Image credit: ebay/Pinterest)

Additionally, this California native plant is actually fire-tolerant. However, to let it grow healthy, do summer watering occasionally.

5. Bush anemone (Carpenteria californica)

This rare evergreen shrub shows its charm when summer comes. White anemone-shaped flowers with yellow stamens will bloom perfectly, attracting pollinators to visit. 

Bush anemone (Carpenteria californica)
Bush anemone (Carpenteria californica),(Image credit: ecrater/Pinterest)

In addition, Bush anemone prefers full sun to partial shade and tolerates any soil types. Even though it is hardy, it is advisable to watch out for aphids that can damage the bright green leaves.

6. Bush Poppy (Dendromecon rigida)

There is no reason to refuse the beautiful bright yellow flowers of this native northern California to decorate your garden. Its showy flowers bloom in late winter to mid-spring. 

Bush Poppy (Dendromecon rigida)
Bush Poppy (Dendromecon rigida),(Image credit: neal kramer/calscape)

Moreover, Bush Poppy tolerates full sun and low temperature, and only needs once per month watering, making it effortless to care for. This native plant is considered a small tree as it barely grows to up to 3 meters.

7. California Brittlebush (Encelia californica)

Similar to other California native plants, this native species displays its tiny flowers that look stunningly beautiful. They resemble sunflowers with yellow petals and a brown center, offering you the beauty of nature. 

California Brittlebush (Encelia californica)
California Brittlebush (Encelia californica),(Image credit: lacey,houzz/Pinterest)

If you consider planting them in your native garden, make sure to prune them after flowering as they grow pretty fast. Pruning is also good to allow new growth.

8. California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

Sound familiar with buckwheat? In fact, there are approximately 125 species of buckwheat that are native to California, including California Buckwheat. 

California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)
California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum),(Image credit: etsy uk,arizona state university/Pinterest)

Since it grows beautiful clusters of white tiny flowers, it belongs to California native flowering plants. Moreover, this native plant thrives under the local climate, like full sun and dry soils. To keep their rounded clusters in shape, it is highly suggested to cut them every few years.

9. California Flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum)

The flannel-like texture of the leaves may be why this California native plant is known as California Flannelbush. Along with Bush Poppy, it is one of the native California flowering plants that produce striking yellow flowers. Therefore, it will be perfect as a garden hedge. 

California Flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum)
California Flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum),(Image credit: phginlon,sierra sunrise/Flickr)

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.

10. California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

Hanging baskets are the most excellent pot for California Fuchsia as they will grow arc gracefully. The bright red flowers are so eye-catching to liven up your garden.

California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum)
California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum),(Image credit: anniesannuals/Pinterest)

Even more remarkable, this California native flowering plant is easy to maintain. You can save water by watering the plant once a month during summer. But keep in mind the soil moisture as it loves humid soil.

11. 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 loves full sun yet prefer to stay in the shade if they are growing in scorching areas.

12. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

Another handy California native flowering plant that grows striking orange flowers, is ready to adorn your garden with its beauty. California Poppy flowers bloom in spring and can last through hot summer. 

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica),(Image credit: etsy/Pinterest)

Furthermore, this native plant is drought-tolerant yet gets thirsty in severe hot seasons. In this case, you need to water them regularly. In addition, as it can reseed and grow fast, pruning them once in a while is necessary to allow spreading.

13. California Tree Poppy (Romneya coulteri)

Instead of California Tree Poppy, this native Southern California flowering plant is best known as Coulter’s Matilija Poppy. It bears white flowers with a yellow center that looks charming and elegant against a green leaves background. 

California Tree Poppy (Romneya coulteri)
California Tree Poppy (Romneya coulteri),(Image credit: davesgarden/Pinterest)

Moreover, this native plant reproduces with shoots and can grow rapidly. To avoid such an event happening, pulling the shoots is preferable. Additionally, pruning in late summer is suggested to initiate new growth.

14. Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

It feels incomplete if we talk about California native flowering plants 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.

15. Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Like our previous native species, Common Yarrow or Nosebleed Plant is known for its lovely scents emitted from small clusters of white flowers. Hence, it is often found in butterfly gardens.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium),(Image credit: etsy/Pinterest)

This native plant can tolerate full sun to full shade areas and is easy to care for. You only need to water them once a week, do division every other year, and remove the dead flowers to encourage other blooms.

Nonetheless, you may find common pests, such as aphids and mildew.

16. Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana)

Those gorgeous purple flowers make Douglas Iris an ideal native plant for your native garden. The color looks eccentric amid greeneries that spread out as the background.

This wildflower optimally blooms in early spring to the end of the season. 

Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana)
Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana),(Image credit: kathleen,inlandvalleygardenplanner/Pinterest)

In addition, they can make beautiful landscape plants since the flowers are commonly grown as ground cover. As of their best maintenance, keep the soil moisture by watering them every two or four weeks, especially during dry summers.

17. Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)

Planting Hummingbird Sage means you help keep native wildlife. It is one of the California native flowering plants where its pink flowers look so alluring to attract birds. 

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)
Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

Furthermore, this herbaceous plant is among those handy native plants since Hummingbird Sage only needs watering twice a month and is cold-tolerant.

Additionally, lightly pruning is necessary to make the sprawling growth of the leaves neater.

18. Purple Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla)

Suppose you are interested in growing your butterfly gardens. In that case, you may want to consider planting Purple Chinese House. Their flowers have a combination of pale and vibrant purple shades that will surely lure the pollinators to enjoy their nectar.

They bloom from mid-spring to early summer. 

Purple Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla)
Purple Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

Like other California native flowering plants, this native plant is very easy to care for. Keep the soil moist to loamy and grow under partial shade to full sun. It also usually grows as an understory with oak trees.

19. Purple Nightshade (Solanum xanti)

Still talking about purple shade flowers, this time Purple Nightshade or Chaparral Nightshade takes a stand to showcase its dazzling purple blooms that form a large shrub.

Purple Nightshade (Solanum xanti)
Purple Nightshade (Solanum xanti),(Image credit: manzanitamania/Pinterest)

They grow vines; thus, commonly grown in fences. However, it is suggested to be planted with other plants, such as Chamise, to imitate its environment in nature. Unfortunately, this native plant is poisonous to humans and some animals.

Hence, planting them away from children and pets is a must.

20. Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius)

Jumping to red shades of flowers, we have Scarlet Bugler! This plant is native to California and can be found in the country’s southern, northern, and central parts.

It has branches with several flower buds where all the hummingbirds are fleeting to the blossoms once they bloom.

Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius)
Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius),(Image credit: laspilitas/Pinterest)

Speaking about its growing conditions, Scarlet Bugler loves to water twice per month in summer and prefers full sun to partial shade with low moisture. It also belongs to the cold-tolerant California native flowering plants.

21. 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: gardenia,plant lust/Pinterest)

Since it can form a grove which may be disturbing, you need to prune it to have long-lasting blooms. Besides that, 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.

22. Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

Just like other California native flowering plants, 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: anniesannuals/Pinterest)

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 maintain its compact form, pinch back the new growth in spring.

And to encourage fresh blooms, cut the dead flowers.

23. 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.

Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis),(Image credit: calscape/Pinterest)

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

24. Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum)

Trichostema lanatum or Woolly Blue Curls has curly and woolly pink to blue-purple flowers that go along with its name. It is one of the most beautiful California native flowering plants 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: joan avise/Nathistoc bio uci)

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 flowering plant in your garden, make sure to water them regularly during the first year.

Once established, doing it once a month is enough. Plus, plant them under areas where the full sun or partial shade is available.

25. Yellow Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum)

The closing statement of our list of California native flowering plants is the stunning Yellow Yarrow or Golden Yarrow. It still belongs to the daisy family. No wonder the yellow petals resemble them perfectly.

This native plant also has a long blooming season, making it a great addition to your garden.

 Yellow Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum)
Yellow Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum),(Image credit: smmflowers,etsy/Pinterest)

To thrive best, Yellow Yarrow needs full sun and low moisture. Yet, you need to water them twice a month once it is established to avoid drought. In addition, pruning is necessary to initiate new growth and extended blooms.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are California native flowering plants?

California native flowering plants are those native plants that grow flowers in all parts of California. They have different shade varieties, such as white, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and blue. 

Moreover, those native plants are mostly adaptable in extreme weather, like drought.

Hence, no wonder that they thrive in full sun and low moisture. Our list of California native flowering plants is some top examples of the beauty of California native species, such as California Lilacs, California Poppy, Scarlet Bugler, Hummingbird Sage, and Black Sage.

What flowering plants are native to Southern California?

Flowering plants native to Southern California from our list are California Tree Poppy (Romneya coulteri), Apricot Mallow or Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), and Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

How do you plant a native garden in California?

First of all, make sure that you know the growing conditions of California native flowering plants before starting to plant them. It is necessary since each native plant has different characteristics.

If they are seeding, dig the soil twice your container’s length to put the seeds properly. But, if they are wet-loving plants, it is necessary to create a flat area with at least twice of diameter. 

When is the best time to plant California native flowering plants?

Even though they favor full sun and low moisture, it is not advisable to plant them in summer. The best time to plant California native flowering plants is in early spring, late fall, and winter.

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