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Common Questions about Summer Planting

Penstemon spectabilis

Question: Can I plant California native plants in the summer?

ANSWER: Yes! Although fall through spring is the ideal time to plant, you can enrich your garden with natives in the summer. We have a list online: “Easy Summer Planting” that provides helpful ideas such as Black sage for a low shrub or Toyon for a large shrub.

Question: Why do you discourage planting Ceanothus and Arctostaphylos in the summer?

ANSWER: Ceanothus and Arctostaphylos are prone to root rot and other diseases that manifest when the soil is warm and moist. Shallow supplemental irrigation promotes the ideal conditions that can result in the death of your new plants.

Question: So does that mean I can’t plant this beautiful Arctostaphylos glauca I’ve been drooling over in my front yard??

ANSWER: You can still plant it, but it’s going to require some additional preparation and careful watering. When fall arrives (after October 15) everything gets easier.

Question: What do you mean by “watering”?

ANSWER: For these purposes a “watering” is a thorough soak throughout the entire root zone and beyond. You want a deep soak to promote rooting in cool moist soil. It is important to water not only at the base of the plant but also soak the ground well away from the crown (where the branches and the roots meet) to encourage extensive deep roots. We recommend you build planting basin, or a series of basins as concentric rings around the plant in order to capture water and get good moisture penetration. You can apply the water by setting the hose to a trickle and move it around over several hours, or use a micro sprinkler to soak the area. Depending on soil type, you should water weekly the first month after planting then every two- three weeks through the summer. Watering should occur only during the coolest part of the day and should completely dry out between waterings.

Question: I have clay soils, what can I do besides make an adobe pot?

ANSWER: You can still plant in clay. Many of our native plants are adapted to clay soils. The best advice is to use clay tolerant plants and plant on a mound to increase water percolation.

Question: Does it matter where I live?

ANSWER: Yes. Near the coast, the conditions are milder and more stable, so many plants can be planted successfully all year. Further inland, where summer days are hot, dry and long, it is better to plant in the cool season so they will be properly established before their first summer at their new home.

Question: Yipee, so I can plant! What if I still have questions?

ANSWER: Please call, email or stop in to our nursery. We are here to help. We have plenty of options for summer planting, and good solid advice for how to have great success all year.