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Planting and Care -You New Native Garden- 1-1/2 Pages or Less


Matilija Nursery

8225 Waters Road- Moorpark, Ca, 93021

805-523-8604 email:

Planting and Care of Your Native Plants and Garden

Books have been written about this topic, many by friends of mine.  We’re going to cover the most important things and get it done in 1 page or maybe 1-1/2 pages.  Some may think that California native plants need neither care nor water; they actually need both.  Not as much as other general landscape plants, but they do need some.


First, place all of your plants where you want to plant them.  Put them in the appropriate sun/shade locations, and generally speaking, the shorter stuff in front and the taller stuff in back.  Now dig your holes, fill them up with water, and let the water drain.  Each hole should be dug so that when placing the plant in the hole, the plant is even or slightly elevated from the surrounding soil.

Also, water the plant in the container. This is so you can take the plant out of the pot more easily without breaking the roots.  Do not, do not, do not, break, or space, or separate the roots. Now plant the plant in the hole and apply water.  Use enough water so that it saturates the root ball.

You’re almost there….. Now, after the planting, you’ll need to water about once each week for the first year. The water sufficiently such that the water get down to the roots. Don’t just turn on the sprinklers for 5 minutes and call “all good”.  If the rootball drys up your new plant isn’t going to survive.  If you plant things out in summer, which is fine for many California native, you’ll most likely be watering 2x per week until winter then drop it down to weekly.  In winter or when it rains – if you get enough rain you’re off the hook – don’t water until things dry out again.

Maintenance and Care:

After the first year, you can drop back the watering to about once a month and in warm inland areas maybe 2x per month in summer.  While they can go dry after the first year or so they’ll stay greener and flower longer with a monthly deep watering.  Some natives will do better with a bit more, and some with a bit less, but this is a pretty good rule.

Many of your plants will need an occasional trim.  Sages need a good cut-back in late fall – cutting about a third and the same for most native grasses.  Manzanitas can be trimmed and thinned once in late fall too. Some people cut back matilija poppies in late fall as well. Desert mallows and Galvezias can/should be cut back about three times a year, and that will keep them flowering just about all year.  If you’re not sure about cutting and trimming, you can always email.

Other Stuff:

Fertilizer?  In most cases, you shouldn’t need fertilizer, but sometimes the soil just has little to no nutrients.  If that’s the case, you may want to spread some time release 10/10/10 over the root zone – at a rate of about 1 tbs per 1-gallon plant.  You want to do this in late fall /early winter.

Bugs? Most bugs like monarch caterpillars are ok but what about things like aphids? Well, most “bad” bugs attack plants that are too “soft” from over watering. Mildew? This tends to be seasonal for plants in shady areas. Not to worry, as it’s just seasonal and they get it in nature too.

Mildew? This tends to be seasonal for plants in shady areas. Not to worry, as it’s just seasonal and they get it in nature too.

That’s it!  If you want to know about how to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and/or bees, or other “how to do….” ,  you might want to read a book two, hire a designer, or come to the nursery and we can help, but this will get you up and running. 

Good luck,



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Featured Plant

salviabluebutterfly 2


Botanical Name

Salvia 'Blue Butterfly'

Common Name

blue butterfly sage


Flower Color


Mature Size

4' tall × 4-1/2' wide

Climactic Requirements


Full Sun / Filtered Sun / Part Shade


Drought Tolerant / Occasional
Profile Availability

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8225 Waters Road • Moorpark • CA 93021 • p 805 523-8604 • f 805 523-2298

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