Right Plant, Right Place
“Right plant, right place” is a maxim that all gardeners follow. Practicing this tip—and providing the correct amount and frequency of water—is crucial for healthy landscapes.
The Right Sunlight
Plants are adapted to grow in full sun, partial sun, or shade. Most full-sun plants will not thrive in full shade. Some plants tolerate multiple conditions. In our area, inland summer heat is also a big factor.
Learn more with our Favorite Plants for Southern California Gardens online workshop.
Plan for growth
Before selecting a plant for any space, assume it will reach its largest predicted size. In general, you want mature plants to touch one another and intermingle without competing for space and light.
Group together plants that need the same amount and frequency of water. Otherwise, something will always be under- or overwatered, causing unhappy plants. See Watering Guidelines for more info.
Ensure proper drainage
Many waterwise and California native plants require well-draining soil to thrive. This means when the soil becomes saturated, it doesn’t stay soggy for long. For simple instructions on how to test your drainage and understand the results, see our video here.
Note: If your drainage is not great, don’t despair. There are still many great waterwise and California native plants adapted to soils that are not fast draining. If this is the case for your site, rely on plants that are adapted to clay soils. You can find our top recommendations by using the Plant Finder on our Waterwise Garden Planner website and selecting the “Plants for Clay Soil” option along with any other criteria.
Know local conditions
Heavy clay soils (in Chino Hills and parts of Chino and Rancho Cucamonga) cause slow drainage. This also occurs where soil has been compacted—such as by a parked car—regardless of soil type. If your area has slow drainage, don’t despair! There are plenty of great options for plants adapted to clay or slow-draining soils.
For a more in-depth workshop on plant selection, attend our “Choosing, Purchasing, and Planting” workshop, or watch the YouTube version.
Use our Waterwise Garden Planner website to find the best plants for your space. We encourage you to select as many California native plants as possible as they provide the most benefits while usually requiring less water. When using the “Plant Finder” section of the Garden Planner website, select “California native” to see recommended plants within that category.
Visit our Demonstration Garden throughout the year to see the plants in person, get ideas for planting designs and combinations, and learn much more.