How to Find Great Plants

Appalachian Feet is collecting information this month on how to find great plants. And because that's actually a question I frequently get -- except people ask:"Where can I buy California Natives?" I thought I'd prepare a short post.

Ahhh, let me count the ways.

1. Go to a plant sale. Most if not all chapters of the California Native Plant Society have native plant sales once or twice a year. The plants are grown from seed or rhizome by volunteers, here's a post about Country Mouse's generous donation of Irises to her CNPS chapter. In the picture, the freshly divided Iris and other plants are on their way to the shade house.

Plant sales are always great fun, it's comforting to find out one isn't the only crazy lady growing natives and the plants are healthy and usually just a bit cheaper than the nursery plants (besides, it's for a good cause, so you can buy a few more).

2. Search the California Native Plant Link Exchange. Here's what they say about themselves: "CNPLX is a resource for people interested in gardening with California native plants. This website will help you select local native plants for any location in the state, and find out who sells them." It is a truly amazing tool, not only for finding plants but also for seeing which plants are found in the same habitat. 

3. Go to a native plant nursery. We are lucky to have a number of very good native plant nurseries in the San Francisco Bay area. Here are some I like.
  • Yerba Buena Nursery has big, healthy plants and a lot of great information on their website. 
  • Native Revival Nursery over in Aptos is right next to the freeway but has a good selection of plants and garden art. I especially love their bi-annual sales. 
  • Gold Rush Nursery specializes in plants in 4 inch pots. They specifically choose plants that will thrive after coming out of a 4 inch pot; I've been very happy with my purchases.
There are quite a few more, and you can find the ones close to you on California Native Plant Link Exchange.

 4. Mail order if you can't find the right plant close by. I can do the 2+ hour round trip to Richmond, or sit comfortable at my computer and order from Annie's Annuals. I have mail ordered plant's from Annie's Annuals several times and have always been impressed by the professional packaging and big healthy plants. Have a look at this post and you'll see what I mean.  An Annie's does have California Natives on her Totally Useful Plant Lists.

5. Grow your own. If you've been diligent like Ms. Country Mouse, you have seeds stashed away and can start locally natives when the rains begin. Otherwise, you can order seeds from Larner Seeds or the Theodore Payne Foundation. We have several posts on this blog that explain the basics and give some tips. It's not that hard, and a cheap way to indulge.

And with all those wonderful plants, all we need is a little more rain (after more than a month of not a drop from the sky) and we'll be ready for another amazing spring.


Wonderful resources -- and now I must know what the plant in your first photo is? Although I suppose it would be a native a long way from home in my yard.

Thanks so much for this excellent HtFGP post!
Susan Krzywicki said…
And don't forget Las Pilitas - - a great web site and they do some mail order!
My favorite is #1. Our local plant sale gathers together offerings from at least four commericial nurseries in addition to donations and offerings grown by the chapter's propagation team. But be sure to show up early. The coolest stuff can go pretty quickly!
Rebecca said…
Our nature center hosts a native plant sale in my area (Missouri) twice a year also.. One thing I appreciate about native plants is that they're guaranteed to grow well in our poor, clay-compacted, rocky soil!! Great post-thanks for the info :)