A California Shade Garden


I know the idea of writing about shade gardening while our temperature has been double digit may seem a bit oxymoronic, but what better time to contemplate a cool, shaded garden than during the middle of a heat wave.

Yes There Is Shade In Southern California

If you have native oak trees you can improve their health by planting native plants underneath them, the same thing is true for other mature, large wide-canopied trees that provide shade. And when I say shade, I don’t mean the kind that you get under your porch, I mean there must be some light for the plants to photosynthesize.

California Natives That Grow In Full Shade

These descriptions and photographs come from Las Pilitas Nursery, which specializes in growing and selling native California plants and is an amazing resource for anyone interested in native and drought tolerant gardening or anything to do with California plants and wildlife. Check them out if you want to build a native California garden or just love looking at California’s wonderful flora.

Here a few of the plants you can grow in California shade:

California Ginger

California Ginger is a charming little perennial with a slight spicy smell and heart-shaped. The flower is the best thing about this plant there are three petals with 1 to 2 inch spur-like projection. The inside is white with a red center. The flowers are about 0.5 to 1 inch wide. It is native in the redwood forest and yellow pine forest so it may need a little moisture.

California Pipe Vine

California Pipe Vine, also known as California Dutchman’s Pipe, it is a deciduous vine with one inch purple striped pipe-shaped flowers. Pipe vine likes part-shade and regular water. This California native vine has become fairly drought tolerant with time and seems to grow ok with Salvia spathacea, hummingbird sage on north slopes or under live oaks. This grows in shade in the central Sierras in moist places and the associated plants are Tellima, Heuchera micrantha and Umbellularia californica.

Bush Anemone

Bush Anemone is an evergreen shrub, 6′ by 3′ in the garden. Can be drought tolerant in town, but generally needs regular watering.

Red Stem Dogwood

Red Stem Dogwood is an elegant open shrub with creamy white flower clusters in spring and red stems.

Jack O The Rocks

Jack O The Rocks. grows in full shade but it needs regular water.

Douglas Iris

Douglas Irisis a delicate native iris with purple flowers. It is very drought tolerant in the shade. It likes a little mulch.

Island Alum Root

Island Alum Root is a two foot perennial with 3′ spikes of small pinkish flowers emerging from February to April. Needs part shade to shade.

To discover, learn more or purchase native shade plants check out this wonderful nursery:


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