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GOING WILD WITH NATIVES: California Native Wildflower Seeds and Bulbs

By Bobbie Stephenson.

Although most people think of the desert when they hear about a super bloom, this year the flowers in our coastal areas are blooming superbly as well. Most of you have probably read about the hordes of people, and the traffic congestion, in the Lake Elsinore area when people were trying to see the masses of wildflowers blooming in places like Walker Canyon. The positive aspect of a super bloom is that it draws everyone’s attention to our native plants. The fact that our native ecosystems can produce a display that takes so many people outside to appreciate nature is awesome. However, if you are going out to see wildflowers at any time, please remember to stay on designated trails; avoid walking, sitting or lying on the plants; leave the flowers where they are (no picking them); and pack out all garbage.

South Poway Hillside.  Photo credit: Lee Gordon

As I write this, the desert wildflowers are fading, but local wildflowers should continue to bloom for a while, since the climate on this side of the mountains is more moderate than that of the desert. If we are lucky with the weather, local wildflowers may continue blooming into June or later. The species that are blooming will change over time according to each species’ life history.

(RACHEL: Latin name in italics) Fritillaria biflora, Chocolate Lily.  Photo Credit: Lee Gordon

If you want to grow some of the annual wildflowers we have been seeing this spring, you can buy seeds at the CNPS San Diego Chapter (CNPS-SD) website. CNPS-SD offers small quantities of seeds for over 100 species of Southern California native plants for gardeners (not intended for restoration). The site also lists some interesting articles on seeds and germination.

You can see details about these wildflowers in the CNPS-SD seed and bulb inventory on Calscape. If you wish, the Calscape Advanced Search Tool will allow you to narrow down the kind of plants you want (sun, water, pollinator, color, size, etc.) When using Advanced Search, under Nurseries, select the CNPS-SD nursery: “CNPS San Diego and Imperial Chapter - Seed and Bulb Sales,” to see what CNPS offers. If you have any questions, please email

Bobbie Stephenson is a local botanist, and the newsletter editor and a board member of the California Native Plant Society San Diego Chapter.

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