Plants can be native to large or small areas. Some plants grow throughout the Western United States; some grow only in California; some grow only in certain areas within California or within San Luis Obispo County. So, what does a “native” plant really mean? Generally we use the term “California native” for a plant that is from and grows in California. For San Luis Obispo-collected plants, we note the collection site.
Restoration plants preferably are collected from the area needing to be restored. This maintains any genetic uniqueness to that area. However, most homeowners or landscapers won’t have the luxury of site-collected plants for their yard. GGF has a plant bank of SLO County native plants. We are able to collect in a number of local areas thanks to our partnerships.
Native plants have several benefits to both gardeners and wildlife. In the garden, they are generally well-adapted to our usual climate. This means less water and less care. Natives often need little to no water by their third year in the ground. They usually grow in our soil without amendments. For budget-minded gardeners, natives can be long-term cost-savers.
Local wildlife also benefits from locally-collected plants. Butterflies, birds, insects, and animals rely on native plants for food, shelter, and nesting material. Introduced plants may not have the same characteristics that our native fauna needs to live.