Best California native plants for when summer heats up

You know what it’s like when things get too hot. Your face turns red, your hair falls out and you basically just shut up, conserve your energy and wait for something cool and wet to bring you back to life.

That’s pretty much a plant native to Southern California that responds to the heat of summer. They have evolved to grow and thrive during the cooler, wet months, bloom with hearts in the spring, then recede and wither in the hot heat, defying their time until temperatures reach high. The heights disappeared and the (recently mythical) winter rains began.

But there are native plants that are beautiful, bloom in the summer, or look stunning no matter the season, so when you’re planning your new low-water garden, here are some native plants. Rapid growth should be considered, as recommended by Tim Becker, director of horticulture at the Theodore Payne Foundation, and Evan Meyer, executive director of the foundation.


leaves on tree

1. Palo Verde Desert Museum (Cercidium ‘Desert Museum’) is a thornless hybrid of palo verde that is covered with bright yellow flowers in spring (and early summer when watered) but looks lovely even without flowers with smooth stems and leaves, light green color.

A thin tree with green leaves and purple flowers

2. Willow Desert (Chilopsis linearis) To be a small tree that is deciduous in winter, meaning it sheds all its leaves in winter but has deep, colorful flowers that are beloved by hummingbirds when they shed their leaves in late spring and summer. A particularly showy variety is the burgundy desert willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Burgundy‘) with deep burgundy flowers.


In the summer, buckwheat and salvias reign supreme, using little water (once established) while providing plenty of water for pollinators to keep them busy happily buzzing around your yard. Some great shrubs that do well in the summer include:

On the tree blooms round flowers full of dust

3. California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), with clouds blooming salmon-pink, lasting all summer. It is a favorite pollinator and a must-have for every SoCal living garden.

a shrub

4. Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens) is studded with clusters of darker pink flowers, which dry to a beautiful rust color in the fall.

Buckwheat red flower.

5. Buckwheat with red flowers (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens) has dark green leaves that grow in clusters, blooming spring through fall with raspberry-colored flowers on tall skinny stems.

shrubs with yellow flowers

6. Conejo buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum) has silver-green foliage and “eye-catching” yellow flowers that bloom in spring and summer.

Purple flowers

7. Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) is hard to beat in terms of fragrance and drama with bright purple flower clusters that transform into sculpted seed pods in late summer and fall.

a tree leaves

8. White Sage (Salvia apiana) blooms from spring to early summer with high arched white clusters, and then shines in the garden with its silvery leaves throughout the rest of the year, a beautiful contrast to the darker green shrubs.

Pigeon Point Coyote Brush

9. Pigeon Point coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis ssp. pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’) is a neater cultivar of gooseberry shrub but very pollinator friendly (Baccharis pilularis) is found throughout the wilds of Oregon, California, and Baja California. Pigeon Point has lush, well-developed foliage and cream-colored flowers that bloom from summer to winter. It looks especially beautiful interspersed with silvery plants like white sage.

Tree with leaves and small berries

10. Manzanita John Dourley (Arctostaphylos ‘John Dourley’) is a low-growing shrub up to 2 feet tall with distinctive manzanita mahogany limbs, bluish-green leaves and copper-colored new growth that make the plant attractive when spilling over walls or covering coast, even if it does not bloom in winter (December-March).

White flowers with large yellow centers

11. Coulter’s Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri) are best known for their huge flowers, especially with their milky petals and bright yolk-colored middle part, making them look like giant fried eggs. (Hence the nickname “fried egg tree.”) These shrubs can be as little as 6 feet tall and twice as wide, with jagged, gray-green stems and leaves. They can go viral, so consider them for places with gradients or backgrounds that need a bit of drama. Becker says trees are easier to contain if you don’t cut them; otherwise, regrowth may seem to double the tree’s size and ugliness, but a tree or two in your yard always attracts compliments.

Fence manufacturer

White flowers with deep pink centers on shrubs

twelfth. Baja spurge (Euphorbia xantiMeyer says) is a great alternative to bamboo fences. It flowers profusely from January to August, and, if allowed to spread, has tall dense foliage that birds like to shelter in and people like privacy. It also works in containers with small clouds of pink-magenta flowers.

Tree-shaped Toyon native shrub

13. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) also known as the California holly tree, is an excellent habitat plant and looks stunning year round with its holly-like dark green leaves. In the summer it is covered with clusters of white flowers – very attractive to pollinators – which turn into clusters of bright red berries that attract a variety of birds in the fall and winter. This large bush can grow large — at least 10 to 20 feet — so be aware of where you plant it.

Bushes of leaves with sparse yellow flowers

14. Poppies in the Channel Islands (Dendromecon harfordii) is a verdant shrub covered with sunny yellow cucumber flowers, emitting a scent from autumn. It grows very quickly and can be at least 12 feet long, but is easy to shape, Meyer says. Keep it pruned in winter to control its height. “This plant does well as a stand-alone shrub but will also look good as a hedge,” says Becker, “especially in a shaded inland area, pruning often enough to make it a good place to stay,” says Becker. become dense”.

The flowers

Branches with orange flowers at the end

15. California fuchsia (Epilobium canum) is probably the most common native flower for hummingbirds, according to the California Native Plant Society Calscape database. It blooms profusely in summer and fall with thin, bright red trumpet-shaped flowers and provides a rough, silvery-green ground cover that looks good in combination with other plants in spring. These plants will be replanted, but around December 1, cut them off completely to create new, vibrant growth for next year.

Small bright yellow flowers

16. Desert Marigoldsaka wild marigold (Baileya multiradiata) is a sunny yellow flower good for rock gardens and accents that blooms on tall skinny stems in spring and summer. This annual or short-lived perennial will begin to self-seed throughout your garden once planted. Just remember, too much water will kill this plant.

Sunflowers among the leaves

17. General sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a tall, multi-flowered sunflower native to Southern California. It blooms throughout the summer but may need some support to keep it from falling over. This plant may look a little disheveled, says Meyer, but its large yellow flowers enliven a late summer garden, and birds will love you for the seeds. Try alternating with shorter plants and prune a little to keep them looking neat. Deposits can also be helpful.

Yellow flowers at the end of thin leaf stalks.

18. Chewing gum (Grindelia is strict. platypus) is a compact spreading version of the sunflower, less than 2 feet tall, with verdant foliage and cheerful yellow flowers that bloom all summer.


We’re not talking grass here, but native grasses with tall, breathable seed heads that capture light and add interesting texture and accent to the garden.

Tall grasses with whispering flowers are shooting out

19. Alkali Sacaton (Sporobolus airoides) is a stalked green grass that can grow up to 3 feet tall, with delicate purple seed tips resembling a fountain.

Wheat grass

20 Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) grows in tall green bunches, with a cheerful, pennant-like pale purple seedhead, sometimes coiled into a circle or semi-circle. A popular cultivar is “Blond Ambition”, pictured above. Best California native plants for when summer heats up

Russell Falcon is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button