California native plants are not only beautiful, they use less water, reduce maintenance and pesticide use, and invite beneficial pollinators. Find resources for planning, purchasing and planting natives at these helpful sites.


Calscape is designed to help Californians restore nature and save water one garden at a time. An advanced search feature lets you choose among any number of preferences. Then the software will generate a list of which plants are recommended for that location in the state, which nurseries may be carrying them, and details on their habitat preferences.

Calscape Garden Planner

Find the perfect native plants for your garden by answering 4 questions. The site will generate a species list specific to your site, complete with sun exposure, mature size and water use. It will also offer some design samples for the type of garden you prefer, from fairly arranged to very casual.

CNPS Gardening and Horticulture

Make use of the ever-growing list of talks and articles on the organization’s home web site. Information is available for all stages of planning and planting as well as maintenance (see “Digging Deeper”).

Bloom! California

Features 11 categories of natives that grow particularly well in our area, together with details about each individual species. The site creates a variety of garden designs, such as a “Shady Refuge,” “Linear Strip,” and “Privacy Hedgerow,” using these species.

Local Bay Area CNPS chapters

All chapters have gardening information on their web sites. Check out Santa Clara chapter, East Bay Chapter, and Sonoma’s Milo Baker Chapter, in particular, for useful ideas and news of their plant sales.

The Theodore Payne Foundation

Though located in Southern California, the Theodore Payne Foundation has a native plant database that is of interest to Marin gardeners. Just account for our cooler weather and wetter winters when using this site.

California Native Plant Link Exchange

The website will help you select local native plants for any location in the state. For each plant that grows wild in California, there is a plant information page that shows nurseries and seed vendors that sell the plant and information about growing the plant.

The Butterfly Net

This unique website aims to encourage native plantings that support the most butterfly and moth species, specific to your location. Enter your address, click on “Find Plants,” select the habitat where you live, (e.g. oak woodland, redwood, grassland, etc.), fill in preferences for nectar and host plants and it returns a prioritized list of plants. This site is the effort of Lepidopterist Chris Cosma, who has organized a tremendous amount of beneficial information in support of butterflies and moths.

Native Plant Nurseries

These also have interesting and informative websites. One with tons of information is Though based in Central California, most of our local plants are included in these folksy, in-depth and often funny plant and gardening descriptions. This website is worth a visit!

Some of our local nurseries sites with plant information are California Flora Nursery in Fulton and the Watershed Nursery in Richmond.

Water Agency Sites

They have user-friendly native plant profiles for plants for the Los Angeles area, but the vast majority of their list will also thrive in the Bay Area.

Marin Water

Our local water agency published a book called the Watershed Approach to Landscaping, with very complete information on how to assess your property’s needs and plan a low water garden. It emphasizes native species. The book can be downloaded for free.

Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership

Offers free garden design templates for a native/adaptive garden and ones that are eco-edible, contemporary, or cottage. While designed originally for Sonoma to help people rebuilding after the fires, they are equally applicable in Marin.

Interesting Local and National Organizations

Refugia Marin

A 100% volunteer-driven organization with a mission that includes conservation as well as education about the myriad benefits of native plants for thriving wildlife habitats. They forge partnerships with schools, community leaders, and like-minded organizations toward a shared goal of enhancing the natural beauty of our communities and embracing rewilding initiatives.

Home Ground Habitats

An organic plant growing ground and educational center in Novato. Their grounds and demonstration gardens showcase a sustainable, organic approach to creating a truly California-friendly landscape using native plants and drought-tolerant Mediterranean species to increase biodiversity. Not generally open to the public but they do teach classes and their web site is a feast of useful information, particularly on creating habitat and growing plants from seeds and cuttings. Home Ground grows the plants for the Marin chapter’s plants sales!

Homegrown National Park

Put your garden on the national map of habitat gardens! Check out Entomologist Doug Tallamy’s nationwide effort to get folks planting natives, wherever they live.

Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Conservation

The go-to site for guidance on breeding, migratory, and overwintering monarch butterfly habitat, advice on habitat establishment and restoration, and research on the distribution of monarchs and milkweed in the West.