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Learn more about native plants at Sept. 17 workshop in SLO

A native Douglas Iris.
A native Douglas Iris. Joseph M. DiTomaso

If you’re looking for a California native plant, there are almost 5,000 to choose from that will grow in the state’s different climactic zones ranging from very wet to extremely dry, from coastal to alpine.

There are evergreen trees including conifers, deciduous trees, flowering trees, shrubs, evergreens and deciduous evergreens. The flowering shrubs come in every color imaginable. There are ferns, wildflowers, vines, ground covers, succulents — and the list goes on. There is something to suit almost any need.

Until the current multi-year drought, native plants were often treated as novelties rather than first choices. This drought has encouraged us to give up our long-held love affair with water-thirsty lawns, to re-landscape wisely and to use less water in our gardens.

Besides the pride of planting native plants, another bonus is that they require less water than many of their non-native counterparts. Additionally, they do not need fertilizer. If you plant a native in an environment similar to its native environment, it should grow successfully, require fewer resources and less maintenance, saving you time and money.

If you love an abundance of birds, bees and butterflies in your garden, native plants attract native wildlife. You can create a natural habitat for wildlife with groupings of native plants.

This Saturday, Sept. 17, native plants will be the subject of our monthly Advice to Grow by Workshop. The presentation is from 10 a.m. to noon; after the workshop you can walk around the garden to see many examples of native plants.

Another resource for native plant information is the California Native Plant Society. It has a San Luis Obispo chapter and is active throughout the state; it also offers useful information on its website (www.cnps.org).

Las Pilitas Nursery of Santa Margarita has a search feature on its website (www.laspilitas.com) to help home gardeners find the right native plant for their yard.

Many local nurseries now offer a selection of natives well adapted to this region due to increased interest in natives. However, it’s important to do your research before purchasing to make sure the native plant you select will grow in your micro climate of San Luis Obispo County.

Leonard Cicerello is a UCCE Master Gardener.

Got a gardening question?

In San Luis Obispo call 781-5939, Arroyo Grande, 473-7190 and Templeton, 434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or email us at anrmgslo@ucanr.edu. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 781-5939.