Field trials identify more native plants suited to urban landscaping
There is a growing need in the state of California for landscape plants that require fewer inputs of water and chemicals. To address this issue, a program was initiated at UC Davis to test the landscape potential of California native plants not currently in widespread horticultural use. Ten unused or underused California native plants were screened in open-field conditions for low water tolerance during summer 2006. In all cases, there were no significant differences in the summer growth or physical appearance between four irrigation levels. Six species maintained a favorable appearance throughout the season and were advanced to demonstration gardens in seven climate zones throughout the state, where Master Gardeners are performing further assessments on their performance. These irrigation and climate zone trials are part of an ongoing program coordinated by UC Cooperative Extension, the UC Davis Arboretum and the California Center for Urban Horticulture to introduce more low water-use and low chemical-use plants through partnerships with the commercial horticultural industry.