Tips on Buying Native Plants
California Native plants are a specialty item for most nurseries. Some retail nurseries devote a certain area to them, but others have them mixed in amongst other plants. If they do not carry the plant you desire, often they can order it from a number of wholesale native plant growers. It is our hope that if the demand for these wonderful plants comes from you, the homeowner and other site owners, the chances are far better that retail nurseries will stock these plants more regularly.
The key to securing these plants is to be persistent. Specialty ordering is a big part of the retail nursery business. Also be flexible. Many times an alternative native plant would work just as well as the one you desire or perhaps better.
Some of the major native plant wholesale growers have hours of the week when they are open to the general public. These hours are limited and their growing grounds are typically off the beaten track. But the time you spend driving to the nursery will be worth its weight in gold when you discover the variety, personal service, knowledge and camaraderie in the native plant world.
Native plant sales are another resource. Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and the Theodore Payne Foundation, to name a few, have annual plant sales and some have a small walk-in nursery operation.
Another option is mail order. A few growers here in California ship native plants by mail. These water saving plants can really add up to a ton of savings if installed and maintained properly. Like any water reduction method there will be an upfront cost to purchase and install drought friendly plants. This initial cost will be offset by the money saved each month on your water bill. If you maintain the landscapes and plants properly you can have a lifetime of savings that will far outweigh the initial upfront cost of buying and planting these environmentally friendly native species.