It’s late February 2021 and we are running an online plant sale with our pick up date in SLO on March 20. CNPSSLO contributor Jen Lopez put together the following notes on creating a pollinator garden with the plant selections we are currently offering. 

These plants are appropriate for gardens throughout SLO County and most of California. All are drought resistant, tolerate some summer water, and will look beautiful when planted together.

Start with a slightly staggered row of shrubs along the back – possibly planted as a hedgerow with close spacing so that they intermingle as they grow

  • Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ (if you don’t have a deer problem) or Ceanothus ‘Julia Phelps’ (if you’re in North County with deer) or Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’ (if you’re in South County or along the coast and have deer)
  • Frangula californica syn Rhamnus californica – Although the blooms are almost unnoticeable to us, they’re essential to some of our smallest native insects. Very garden-tolerant, slow-growing shrub, with a neat and attractive appearance year round.
  • Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii – Beautiful shrub with tremendous wildlife value.
  • Heteromeles arbutifolia –  Toyon is one of the most valuable wildlife shrubs, the others being willow, coffeeberry, and elder. Although sizable, you’ll never regret finding space for toyon in your garden.
  • If you have more space and clay soil or a high water table, add native elder and willow.

Next, add subshrubs in front and in between

  • Salvia leucophylla ‘Point Sal – will grow taller in partial shade, but stays low in full sun. Surprisingly tolerant of summer water and clay soils, but will rot in standing water.
  • Eriogonum fasciculatum ‘Warriner Lytle’ – buckwheats are some of the most valuable natives for our pollinators and are almost always buzzing with activity when in bloom. This variety grows2-3 times as wide as tall but its size is easily controlled by late-winter pruning.
  • Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. griseus ‘Yankee Point’
  • Baccharis pillularis ‘Pigeon Point’

Complete your pollinator banquet with native perennials and deer grass

  • Epilobium canum – bumblebees cut hole in the base of the flowers in order to reach the nectar! These will spread gently but won’t wipe out surrounding plants.
  • Asclepias fascicularis – plant a minimum of three of these as they are essential food for Monarch caterpillars. More is better! If they begin to look weedy they can be cut back to stimulate new growth -but please leave trimmings at the base of the plants in case there are butterfly eggs present.
  • Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Blue Springs’
  • Sisyrinchium bellum ‘Rocky Point’
  • Muhlenbergia rigens
  • Solidago spp.