Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Pruning Questions

Cuttings from beautyberry from Stockport OH
May 22, 2014 - My beauty berry is starting a new growth about 2ft from main plant, can I dig this and part of the root without hurting the main part, if so, when?
view the full question and answer

Pruning a mock orange in Charleston WV
March 30, 2009 - How far back and when do I prune a "Mock Orange" in order to get it to bloom?
view the full question and answer

Pruning the leaves of Sago Palm.
March 10, 2010 - Is it a cardinal sin to remove all the sago palm branches? This winter they were so badly scorched by the cold that hardly a frond went unaffected. So I cut them all off as I needed to get around the...
view the full question and answer

Bignonia capreolata with brown leaves in Pennsylvania
April 24, 2009 - 3 year old crossvine leaves brown and dead looking. Will it come back and bud out? Crossvine on fence southern exposure. Crossvine on fence in another area has leaves and are dark green/purple - sa...
view the full question and answer

Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
February 06, 2013 - I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.