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GOING WILD WITH NATIVES: California Native Plant Society SD Chapter Plant Sale Preview October 14

By Susan Lewitt, for Let’s Talk Plants! October 2023.

California Native Plant Society San Diego Chapter Plant Sale Preview

Moosa Creek starts native plants from seeds (left) for more genetic diversity. These Jojoba, Simmondsia chinensis, seeds will grow into robust California native plants as seen on the right. Left photo by Susan Lewitt. Right photo courtesy of Calscape.


CNPS Native Plant Sale has outgrown the Balboa Park location. This new location, for the 2023 CNPS Fall Native Plant Sale, on October 14, will be at 2701 Cushing Road, LIBERTY STATION ESPLANADE at Dewey Road near SEAHIVE, and Building 191, 9am to 3pm, with closer parking, and more space.

This article will give you an idea of how and where some of these plants started and what might be available at the plant sale.

To make a flourishing start first you need good seed. Moosa Creek starts native plants from seeds for more genetic diversity. Jojoba, Simmondsia chinensis, seeds will grow into robust California native plants. Left photo by Susan Lewitt. Right photo courtesy of Calscape.

These seeds (left) will grow into large Lemonade Berry, Rhus integrifolia, plants as seen on the right. They may grow up to 30 ft tall and 20 feet wide with flowers in the winter and spring. The flowers become tart red berries that turn gray as they ripen, and are enjoyed by wildlife. You may even view a Ceanothus Silkmoth, White-Lined Sphinx or other pollinators visiting this plant. Lemonade Berry as a landscape shrub can be used as a screen and easily trimmed as a hedge if desired. Photos by Susan Lewitt.

This Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, on the left has been coming back every year from seed that I sprinkled out there about three years ago. Both this and Golden Yarrow, Eriophyllum confertifloru, are found growing naturally in the San Diego area and work well for home landscapes. Left Photo by Susan Lewitt. Right photo courtesy of Calscape. (Note from the editor; Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is the international Herb Association's Herb of the Year ™ for 2024.)

Young native plants can be sturdy, but sometimes need a little extra TLC. At Moosa Creek they are being protected in semi-enclosed greenhouses until they are ready to be sold for use in your garden. Eventually your new plants will reach a mature size, filling your garden with balance and biodiversity. Photo by Susan Lewitt.

Woollyleaf Ceanothus, Ceanothus tomentosus, is one of 28 varieties of Ceanothus species that will be available at the native plant sale. Its blue, lavender and white flowers can be enjoyed during the winter and spring. It is a fast grower that attracts many beautiful pollinators and grows to at least 6 ft high by 6 ft wide. The two lower photos show Hoaryleaf Ceanothus, Ceanothus crassifolius, the left one with fruit that follows the white flowers shown on the right with an avian visitor. Left photo by Susan Lewitt. The other three photos are courtesy of Calscape.

White sage, Salvia apiana, is a sacred plant used by the Kumeyaay and Chumash peoples for rituals, food, and medicinal treatments. Hollywood made burning sage bundles popular and now it is being poached in the wild and sold commercially for smudging bundles, but you can grow your own white sage for smudging, so please don’t deplete the ones in the wild. White sage from local native nurseries will be available at the upcoming CNPS plant sale. Left photo by Susan Lewitt. Right photo courtesy of Calscape.

Pictured on the upper left is a Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus ‘Cherry’ cultivar, with its charming pink flowers grown at Moosa Creek Nursery. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Bush Monkeyflowers can grow 3 - 5 feet tall and thrive best in the sun, or part shade. The other three photos are Sticky Monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus var. pubescens, which attracts checkerspot butterfly species, birds and other native pollinators. The Southern Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus longiflorus, a close relative will also be available at the plant sale. Upper left photo by Susan Lewitt. Other three photos by Keir Morse.

The upper photos are Fuchsia-flowered Gooseberry, Ribes speciosum, showing off its bright red flowers winter through spring and growing to 3 to 10 feet tall and up to 8 feet wide. Since it is summer deciduous, it is best to surround it by evergreens that don’t take summer water and away from paths where its thorns might poke someone. Golden Currant, Ribes aureum, which is in the same genus, comes in two varieties, Ribes aureum var. aureum and Ribes var. gracillimum. Both of these Golden Currants have fragrant golden yellow flowers in the winter and spring. The flowers are followed by amber yellow to black fruits, which are edible, and also enjoyed by many native birds. Upper photos courtesy of Calscape. Lower photos by Keir Morse.

Purple Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla, available as seed are easy to grow especially in low moisture medium draining soil. Blooms occur from late winter to spring and it’s one of the first annuals to brighten my garden. Left photo by Susan Lewitt. Right photo courtesy of Calscape.

Broom Baccharis, Baccharis sarothroides, also known as desert broom, is a great plant for large spaces, and erosion control. It will make a nice addition to any garden with its yellow cream and white flowers. This plant gets up to 12 ft high and 6 ft wide and is summer deciduous in desert areas, but in other areas the tiny leaves stay bright green, especially in the foothill areas. Left photo by Susan Lewitt. Right photo courtesy of Calscape.

On the upper left is a newly planted Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus, only in the ground for one month and already it has produced its third flower followed shortly after by four flower buds. Eventually it will be covered with flowers and reach more than a foot tall and 3 feet wide. Seaside Daisies have a long bloom season and removing the spent flowers encourages more blooms. It also does well in containers. Upper left and bottom photos by Susan Lewitt. Upper right photo courtesy of Calscape.

For succulent lovers, Prickly Pear, Opuntia littoralis, is a good option. It occurs in coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats. In the spring it may have yellow flowers followed by purplish red fruits. It is easy to care for, but prefers fast draining soil. It hosts birds, caterpillars, moths and butterflies and is very important for wildlife. Prickly Pear will grow to about 3 ft tall and about as wide. Photos courtesy of Calscape.

Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia, also known as California Holly, produces brilliant red berry clusters which follow slightly fragrant white flowers in the summer. Toyons are easy to grow and can quickly reach a height of 10 ft within 3 years. Bees, butterflies, and other insects visit the flowers and birds nosh on the berries. This plant was also the inspiration for how Hollywood was named. Upper photo by Susan Lewitt. Lower photos courtesy of Calscape.

Plants in this article represent a sampling of many species that might be available at the CNPS native plant sale, and there will be a wide variety of native plants and cultivars to choose from, plus seeds and bulbs! Partner booths will feature books, posters, art, trades, sustainable goods and more. Experts will be there to guide you to the best choices for your garden. Volunteers are always welcome, but please sign up first at

We are looking forward to seeing you there! Now, get ready for this great CNPS Fall Native Plant Sale that will help beautify your garden and support biodiversity!


Susan Lewitt is a member of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), participating in their Native Gardening Committee, and their Conservation Committee.


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