Gardening of the North Coast | Enjoy Showy Native Plants This Fall – Times-Standard



While many types of plants native to California are starting to relax after a parched summer in the west, some are actually starting to showcase colorful displays now. Take a tour of your favorite nursery or the Humboldt Botanical Gardens to see for yourself.

In the photo, ‘Jelly Bean Gold’ Mimulus aurantiacus. (Courtesy of Terry Kramer)

Sticky Monkey Flower: One of the cheerful native plants that provide a good late summer / fall show is the Sticky Monkey Flower, Mimulus aurantiacus. From spring to winter, cheerful little flowers (some say they look like a smiling monkey) suffocate the willow, the long stems. The flowers bloom in vivid hues of red, white, yellow, gold and orange. The foliage is quite sticky due to a glandular resin coating which helps this drought tolerant California native retain water. The flowers attract hummingbirds and many butterflies. It is a special larval food for the painted lady and the checkered butterfly.

Vine maple: Today, the vine maple (Acer circinatum) begins a fiery show of red, yellow, orange and brown. Deep in a redwood forest, it tends to take on a delicate, vine-like shape, with leaves turning more yellow. The willow branches reach the light in a most delicious way. In full sun, the tree grows into a sturdy tree with several trunks, almost like a bush. The foliage is fiery. In the home garden, it can be grown in a container and formed as a single trunk, much like a Japanese maple. Wherever vine maple is grown, it tends to be well-bred, rarely exceeding or rarely exceeding the garden. It will eventually grow to 25 feet tall and about as wide. With a little bit of size, it is easy to keep it much smaller.

California Fuchsia: If you want a big, bold color, take a look at Epilobium canam ‘Mattole Select.’ Also called California fuchsia, this slow-growing perennial is covered in bright orange tubular flowers from late summer through fall. Hummingbirds can’t resist these brilliant, nectar-laden flowers. In the garden, Epilobium likes full sun, well-drained soil, and just a little water in the summer. It grows up to 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall during flowering.

The vine maple (Acer circinatum) begins a fiery show of red, yellow, orange and brown. (Courtesy of Terry Kramer)

Cleveland Sage ‘Pozo Blue’: It is a hybrid of Salvia clevelandii and Salvia leucophylla. From late summer to fall, it blooms blue / lavender flowers in ball-shaped clusters atop gray / green foliage. The plants grow 3 to 5 feet tall and about as wide. Full sun in dry, well-drained soil is what makes Pozo Blue happy. Hummingbirds love flowers.

Terry Kramer is the site manager of the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a horticulturist and journalist by training. She has been writing a garden column for The Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at


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