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We’ve short-listed a group of plants known for doing well in our North-Bay climate.

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Achillea spp & cvs

Yarrow
Organization

Yarrows are variable low-growing, spreading herbaceous perennials with finely divided leaves that inhabit many temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Flattish clusters of flowers form in spring and well into summer and provide an important nectar source for pollinators and insects. Yarrow can help to stabilize slopes and is a good addition to the upper level of rain gardens and swales. Colors include white, yellow, pink, and red.

California native spp & cvs: A. millefolium (common yarrow), A. m. ‘Calistoga’, A. m. ‘Island Pink’, A. m. ‘Sonoma Coast’, A. m. ‘Terracotta’.

Other yarrows: A. filipendulina (fern leaf yarrow), A. f. ‘Coronation Gold’, A. ‘Moonshine’, A. tomentosa (woolly yarrow).

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soil
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Gray GreenGreen
  • Flower Color: PinkYellowWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Size: SmallMedium
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesMMWDSCLLLSonoma Super StarSRJC IDWater Smart Plants Cards

Agastache spp

Hyssop, Licorice Mint
Organization

Shrubby perennial in the mint family with aromatic gray-green leaves from southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Tubular orange and lavender flowers from midsummer to fall. Can be short-lived in clay soils.

  • Water: LowModerate
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Gray GreenGreen
  • Flower Color: LilacLavenderOrange
  • Blooming Season (s): Summer
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Size: SmallMedium
  • Featured On A Local List? : Landscape TemplatesMMWDSRJC ID

Agave spp

Agave
Succulent
Organization

Large group of succulents that can provide a sculptural focal point. Mostly from warm, dry areas of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. Well-adapted to California gardens, especially with well-drained soils.

Examples: A. americana, (century plant, 6’ x 10’), A. filifera (threadleaf agave, 2’ x 2’), A. parryi (artichoke agave, 3’ x 3’), A. shawii (Shaw’s agave, 2’ x 5’), A. weberi (5’ x 10’).

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: BlueGreenSilver
  • Flower Color: RedYellow
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFall
  • Size: SmallMediumLarge
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden Sense

Aloe spp

Aloe
Succulent
Organization

Large, variable group of succulents, primarily from South Africa, that produce yellow, orange, or red tubular flowers. Many are somewhat tender and are best grown in mostly frost-free areas. Plant in well-drained soils in full sun in coastal areas and with partial shade in hot locations.
Examples: A. arborescens (tree aloe, 6-8’ x 5-6’), A. ferox (bitter aloe, 3-5’ x 3-5’), A. maculata (soap aloe, 18” x 2-3’), A. striata (coral aloe, 2’ x 2’), A. vera (medicinal aloe, 2’ x 3-4’).

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: BlueGreenSilver
  • Flower Color: OrangeRedYellow
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFallWinter
  • Size: SmallMediumLarge
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseSRJC ID

Anigozanthos spp

Kangaroo Paw
Organization

Southwestern Australian perennial with strappy, evergreen leaves and long-lasting, colorful and fuzzy tubular flowers attractive to hummingbirds. Prefers well-drained soils and can be short-lived.
Examples: A. flavidus (2-4’ x 2-3’), A. rufus (1-3‘ x 1-3’), A. ‘Red Cross’, A. ‘Regal Claw’.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Most Soil
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: GreenOrangePinkRedYellow
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Size: SmallMedium
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesSRJC ID

Aquilegia spp

Columbine
Organization

This woodland perennial has blue-green, deeply divided leaves and delicate, nodding flowers. Leave spent flowers to form seed heads for a crop of new seedlings. There are many species and hybrids, but the red-and-yellow flowering Aquilegia formosa (western columbine) is perhaps the most fitting for gardens in Sonoma and Marin. Excellent companion for other shade-loving plants such as coffeeberry and currants.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Partial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soil
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: BlueGray GreenGreen
  • Flower Color: PurpleRed
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Size: Small
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesMMWD

Arbutus spp & hybrids

Arbutus, Strawberry Tree
Shrub, Tree
Organization

Group of evergreen trees and large shrubs with attractive foliage and bark, small urn-shaped flowers, and reddish fruit. Prefer sunny locations and well-drained soil. A. ‘Marina’ (20-30’ – 15-30’) and A. unedo (strawberry tree, 15-30’ x 15-30’) are most commonly planted in California landscapes, either as multi-stemmed or single-stemmed, large shrubs or trees. While the two trees are similar in appearance, A. ‘Marina’ has cinnamon-brown shedding bark, whereas the bark of A. unedo is more brown. A. menziesii (madrone, 20-100’) is native to the west coast of North America, including the foothills of Sonoma and Marin counties. A. menziesii is less common in landscapes as it is notoriously difficult to establish.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: GreenGreen - Dark
  • Flower Color: White
  • Blooming Season (s): FallWinter
  • Fruit Color: OrangeRed
  • Bark Color: Cinnamon-Brown
  • Size: SmallMedium
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesMMWDSRJC IDWater Smart Plants Cards

Arctostaphylos spp & cvs

Manzanita
Ground Cover, Shrub
Organization

Manzanitas vary from carpet-forming groundcovers to small trees. Manzanitas have varying shades of striking, reddish brown bark and can provide structure to a garden. These plants have evergreen foliage, small white-to-pink, urn-shaped blossoms in late winter to early spring, and then small fruits that resemble tiny apples.

Groundcovers: A. ‘Emerald Carpet’ (1’ x 3-6’), A. ‘Pacific Mist’ (2-3’ x 6-8’), A. nummularia ‘Bear Belly’ (1’ x 3’), A. uva ursi ‘Radiant’ (6” x 4-6’), A. uva ursi ‘Wood’s Compct’ (1’ x 3’).

Shrubs: A. ‘Howard McMinn’ (5-7’ x 6-10’), A. ‘John Dourly’ (3-4’ x 5-6’), A. ‘Lester Rowntree’ (8-10’ x 10-15’), A. ‘Sunset‘ (5-7’), A. bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’ (8-10’), A. manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’ (10-15’), A. manzanita ‘Sentinel’ (6-8’ x 5’).

  • Water: Very LowLowModerate
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: PinkWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringWinter
  • Fruit Color: Reddish Brown
  • Bark Color: Brown
  • Size: SmallMediumLarge
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesMMWDSonoma Super StarWater Smart Plants Cards

Aristolochia californica

California Pipevine
Vine
Organization

Important northern California native habitat plant that is the sole larval food source for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly. This deciduous vine grows naturally along stream banks and in woodlands and performs well under native oaks. Dutchman’s pipevine is relatively slow-growing and takes a few years to establish. Pendulous pipe-shaped flowers bloom in early spring, followed by soft, bright green, heart-shaped leaves. Best grown as a groundcover to provide protection for pipevine swallowtail larvae but will also twine up other plants and structures. The real show comes in late spring as larvae feed on the plant and grow into spectacular horned, black caterpillars with red spots!

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Partial ShadeShade
  • Soil: Most Soil
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Leaf Color: Green -Light
  • Flower Color: Pale Green
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringWinter
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Size: Medium
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesWater Smart Plants Cards

Artemisia ssp

Sagebrush, Wormwood
Shrub
Organization

Large group of plants that includes annuals, perennials, and shrubs grown for fine, soft-textured, aromatic, gray-green foliage. Flowers are inconspicuous but provide a source of pollen, nectar, and seeds for wildlife. Plant in full sun with good drainage. Shrubby varieties can be cut back to maintain a more tidy and compact appearance. Perennial varieties can be divided in fall or early spring. Excellent choice as support for more showy plants in the garden.

Examples: A. ‘Powis Castle’ (3’ x 6’), A. californica (2-5’ x 4-5’, low-growing cultivars ‘Canyon Gray’ and ‘Montara’), A. pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’ (6” x 2’).

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Most Soil
  • Foliage: EvergreenHerbaceous
  • Leaf Color: GrayGray GreenGreen
  • Flower Color: YellowWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer
  • Life Cycle: AnnualPerennial
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesMMWDWater Smart Plants Cards

Asclepias spp, CA native

Milkweed
Organization

Colony-forming, herbaceous perennials with several species providing important habitat and larval food sources for the monarch butterfly while attracting a diverse array of insects.

California milkweeds remain dormant during the colder months. Stems that emerge in April or May bear clusters of small, star-like flowers in summer followed by silky-tailed seeds that are dispersed by wind. A. fascicularis (narrow-leaved milkweed, 1-3’) is the preferred food source for monarch larvae. A. speciosa (showy milkweed, 2-4’) has larger, soft foliage, showier flower clusters, and is also a food source for monarch larvae.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soil
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Size: Medium
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesMMWDSCLLLWater Smart Plants Cards

Baccharis pilularis & cvs

Dwarf Coyote Brush
Ground Cover, Shrub
Organization

Large group of plants that includes annuals, perennials, and shrubs grown for fine, soft- textured, aromatic, gray-green foliage. Flowers are inconspicuous but provide a source of pollen, nectar, and seeds for wildlife. Plant in full sun with good drainage. Shrubby varieties can be cut back to maintain a more tidy and compact appearance. Perennial varieties can be divided in fall or early spring. Excellent choice as support for more showy plants in the garden.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Most Soil
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green - Dark
  • Flower Color: White
  • Blooming Season (s): Fall
  • Size: Medium
  • Featured On A Local List? : Garden SenseLandscape TemplatesSCLLL