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Q & A - Topics of interest

New subspecies
New subspecies can be created from natural cross-pollination.   Native plants start out geographically isolated - which allows them to pollinate and create a somewhat stable population.  As multiple species of a genus are brought into a common garden, they now have the opportunity to cross-pollinate - usually done by bees, Hummingbirds or other.  The offspring is called a hybrid or a "cross" (abbreviated as an "X").  These seeds can germinate and grow as volunteers.   If the volunteer shows desirable characteristics it can be propagated - by cuttings only.  This first generation, if left to go to seed, will not produce the same identical plant.  
Some examples of these plants are Erigeron glaucus X (Wayne Roderick Daisy), Salvia "Pozo Blue", Salvia "Bees Bliss" and others.  Usually these are designated with the Genus name and "sp" designation along with the common name - although this is variable.
Hybrid volunteers that we have seen at Blossom Hill are usually of the Salvia or Penstemon genera.

If a Native Species is repeatedly crossed and refined by conventional breeding, then it would lose the status of "Native".  This process of breeding is how ornamental plants are produced commercially.  This is not a bad thing, but does not keep with the intent of encouraging and preserving the natural diversity and benefits of Native Plants.

Just fyi - conventional breeding is not the use of GMOs.  It is manually crossing parent plants to guide and express beneficial characteristics - these could be different flower colors, more vigorous plants,  or higher yield and disease resistance for farmers.

Within a Species population is a large amount of genetic diversity (think of the many types of dogs).  This diversity can be expressed in the wild or nursery through the plants normal reproductive process.  Usually the "Selection" has a minor difference.  An example is Sentinel Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora).  Howard McMinn is the same species but slightly larger than Sentinel.  To preserve this characteristic, and produce plants identical to McMinn, new plants can only be produce by taking cuttings.  This is of course not a new Species but a selection within an existing Species.

Will Natives grow where I live?
The short answer is probably.
California is a big State with Diverse climate conditions.  From the highest point to the lowest point in the US, from coastal to desert areas.  To best answer that question you need to know the geographic region where the Species is from.  Your situation can adapt to their needs - coastal Species can be successfully grown inland with some shade, and desert plants can be grown with much less supplemental water.  Best to know  what plants you like and then understand your specific situation and adapt or place plants accordingly. At Blossom Hill the plants we sell have proven to be adaptable to the Central Valley/Sierra Foothill regions.

Where do you source your plants?  
 About 85-90% of our plants we produce from cuttings and seed collected on -site, or seed  purchased from reliable Native Plant suppliers.  10-15 percent we purchase as starters (~10%) or potted plants (~5%) from Native Plant suppliers.  Usually plants are purchased when we need additional inventory between the Fall and Spring sales seasons - difficult to replace inventory, due to slow growth, during the winter months.

What do the different pot sizes mean (in inches, measurements are approximate and vary by manufacturer)?
#1 Pots = Height: 6-3/4, Top Inside Diameter: 6",  Bottom Diameter: 5",  Volume : 0.67 gal.  (Commonly referred to as 1 gallon)
#2 Pots = 
Height: 8.375, Top Inside Diameter: 8.5,  Volume: 1.626 gal 
#3 Pots = Height: 8.875,  Top Inside Diameter: 9.625, , Volume: 2.378 gal
#5 Tall Pots = Height: 11.875, Top Inside Diameter: 10, Volume: 3.263 gal.  #5 short pots are slightly shorter and wider.

Deer and fire resistant plants?
Best source
for information we can find is the Las Pilitas list.  Link

What about Pruning?
Many natives benefit from annual pruning.  Prune to encourage good structure,desired shape, and increased flowering.

Salvias (large) - Summer/Fall pruning, trim flower stalks and plant up to 50%.  Will encourage good structure and flowering. 

Fuschias - (Epilobium, Zauschneria) Prune 50-80% depending on vigor of species/plant.  Encourage next year flowering.

Penstemons - Large – prune up to 50% for best structure and increased flowering.  Small – Dead head flowers only.

Ceanothus - Prune to desired shape.

Buckwheats (Eriogonum) - Very little needed – deadhead flowers and flower stalks.

Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos) - No pruning needed except for aesthetics and size.

** Always prune weak or dead limbs.  In the case of a plant that is in decline, many times they can be brought back by a severe pruning - removal of vegetation.  This will decrease the demand on the plant (most important), and encourage new growth.  This has been successful many times in our garden.

Species we no longer grow
Here is a list and a short explanation.  This is our experience only  - and yes sometimes a Species can be "unlucky" after 2-3 tries - so some may work very well for others.
New Species
Grow where I live
Deer and fire resistant
No longer grow

Antirrhinum multiflorum
Arctostaphylos sp
Arctostaphylos glauca

Artemisia ludoviciana
Artemisia tridentata
Ceanothus cuneatus

Chrysothamus nauseosus
Diplacus longiflorus

Encelia farinosa
Hyptis emoryi

Malacothamnus densiflorus

Nassella pulchra
Penstemon h.  - Frosty Margarita

Penstemon sp
Penstemon palmeri
Ribes speciosum
Ribes viburnifolium

Salvia apiana

Salvia - Celestial Blue

Salvia brandegeei

Salvia dorrii
Salvia munzii

Viguiera deltoidea parishii
Wyethia angustifolia

Multiflowered Snapdragon
Emerald Carpet
Ramona Big Berry Manzanita

White Sagebrush
Great Basin Sage

Conejo monkey flower

Desert Lavender

Many Flowered Bushmallow

Purple Needle Grass
White Foothill Penstemon

Margarita BOP
Scented Penstomen
Fuchsia-Flowering Gooseberry
Evergreen Currant, Catalina Perfume

White Sage

Celestial Blue Sage

Brandegee's Sage
Desert Sage and Purple Sage
San Diego Sage

Desert Sunflower
Narrowleaf Mule Ears

Did not survive
Low survival
Did not survive

Aggressive spreader, poor appearance
Very poor appearance

Not that attractive, died

Very  poor appearance
Did not survive, have other Diplacus available

Did not survive frost - nice plant however.
Interesting, but not attractive for landscape

Not appealing

Aggressive re-seeder, invasive
Did not survive

Not significantly different from P heterophulus, Died.  Very popular however.
Nice, but only lived 2-3 years
Nice plant, very spiny however and did not sell

Uninteresting, indistinct flowers.  Like Salvia "Vicki Romo" better.

Interesting but not significantly different from other Sages offered

Tried with this one but collapsed - poor structure.

Low survival, small sage - may try again
Died, not distinct from other sages offered

Did not survive
Low survival

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