En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - March 30, 2012

From: San Ramon, CA
Region: California
Topic: General Botany, Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Seeds and Seeding
Title: Flowers for days on end in California
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse

QUESTION:

What are some plants or flowers that I can grow "all-year" in California?

ANSWER:

One of the many advantages of living in California, is the very long and forgiving growing season. Of course all plants have cycles of growth. They flower to produce seed or fruit, so technically no one flower could be in bloom all year long in California. However you can manipulate a plants growth and bloom cycle quite a lot. We will get into the tricks of the trade after some planting suggestions.

The best way to have blooms all year long is to plant a variety of species that bloom at different times. To  figure out which plants bloom when, take a look at our recommended species list for your area, here on our web site. Here you can sort by bloom time and it will produce a list of plants that you can brows and read all about, to see if they are the right plant for your situation.

From our recommended species selection we have chosen a variety of blooming perennials that are separated by seasons. 

For spring: Coreopsis gigantea (Giant coreopsis), Dicentra formosa (Pacific bleeding heart)Erigeron glaucus (Seaside fleabane)Gaultheria shallon (Salal)Rhododendron occidentale (Western azalea), and for a lovely blooming tree that really needs to be in every yard in California the  Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood).

Summer through fall: Aquilegia formosa (Western columbine)Armeria maritima (Thrift seapink)Delphinium cardinale (Scarlet larkspur)Lilium humboldtii (Humboldt lily)Lilium pardalinum (Leopard lily)Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific rhododendron)Rudbeckia californica (California coneflower)Lupinus grayi (Sierra lupine)Mahonia aquifolium (Holly-leaf oregon-grape)Mahonia repens (Creeping barberry)Spiraea splendens var. splendens (Rose meadowsweet)

There are plenty more to choose from so play around with the search options. You can fine tune your search with bloom colors and height and type of plant. 

In terms of keeping flowers blooming for a long time. You need to learn the art of dead-heading. A favorite pastime for the serious gardener and children who like to pull on flowers. All this is, is cutting off or pinching off the blooms when they are past their peak, preventing the development of fruit or seed. This frustrates the plant into producing another flower. At the end of the season you want to let the plant do it's thing and produce a fruit. 

Your lucky to have such a forgiving environment for planting. There are many lovely annuals that you could also use that reseed on their own so when looking at the your search take the time to check out the annuals as well.

 

From the Image Gallery


Giant coreopsis
Coreopsis gigantea

Salal
Gaultheria shallon

Silver lupine
Lupinus albifrons

Humboldt lily
Lilium humboldtii

Creeping barberry
Mahonia repens

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Controlling erosion in Leburn KY
July 21, 2009 - I would really appreciate advice on controlling a serious erosion problem in eastern Kentucky. The slope is north facing, shady and moist with rich soil. Would prefer to use native Kentucky plants. ...
view the full question and answer

What do wildflower seeds look like from Westlake Village CA
February 23, 2014 - I collect seeds from my wild flower garden but can't always tell what part of the dried flower is the actual seed that will reproduce. Is there a resource that shows the seed part of flowers? Than...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Brick, New Jersey
September 07, 2013 - I live in Brick, New Jersey. I planted some wildflower seed from an assorted packet. There is a very tall, thick center stem with orange flowers. I'd like to send photo but don't know how.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for steep slope in Washington DC
May 07, 2010 - We have a steep slope in our garden in Washington DC which has sun from noon to sun set. Could you please recommend some low maintenance plants which would be a good ground cover and limit erosion?
view the full question and answer

Which seeds need to be scarified from Marble Falls TX
November 08, 2013 - Can I find out which seeds need to be scarified?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center