Native For Containers

 Gardening: By Mary James



Want to fill the corner of a balcony or patio with the beauty and scent of California wildlands? Plant some of the state’s natives in large containers. Yes, they will thrive there, says Patty Roess of Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano, who suggested the three combos below.


Manzanita with its beautiful red-brown bark, scented flowers and evergreen foliage is the centerpiece, surrounded by silvery chalk dudleya rosettes and trailing mint-fresh yerba buena (Satureja douglasii). Upright-growing ‘Howard McMinn’ or ‘Sentinel’ are good manzanita choices. All can handle some shade.


San Diego’s native Cleveland sage mixes with feathery  ‘Canyon Gray’ California sage–
brush (Artemisia californica) and lavender-blossomed coyote mint (Monardella villosa). Opt for ‘Winifred Gilman’ Cleveland sage with dark-purple flowers on maroon stems. Needs full sun.


Silvery blue blades of California fescue (Festuca californica) are a bold contrast with luminous dudleya rosettes. For season color, add some California poppies in spring, followed by clear-yellow sundrops (Calylophus) in summer. Needs full sun.


Look for all these plants at Tree of Life; directions and hours are at Also check the website for Roess’ occasional classes on native container gardening. Plant natives in cactus-mix potting soil to provide the sharp drain-age required. Depending on the container location, water once or twice a week. Feed with half-strength organic fertilizer in early fall or spring.

Categories: Gardening