CNPS San Diego Chapter - California Native Plant Society
Native Plants for Water Gardens

With a California native plant landscape there is no mowing, no yard work and very little watering but, for those of you who just can't stop watering, there is a partial solution. It is possible to set up a small water garden and still keep it in California natives. And it will attract birds and other wildlife to your garden.

I will mention a few water plants which are available but whether you will ever be able to find them is another problem. There is one nursery which carries one of the very pretty flowering bog plants and that is the Mission Hills Nursery on Fort Stockton Drive in San Diego.

The Monkey Flower comes in a variety of colors from pale yellow to deep red and grows in the coastal sage scrub in dry areas. But, lo and behold, Mimulus guttatas grows in very wet areas and sometimes forms mats on the surfaces of still waters. Its bright yellow flower is about 1/2 inch in diameter and has many along the stem. It was recently available at the above mentioned nursery in two varieties, one larger than the other and growing in a small waterfall. Very pretty.

Other plants which can be used vary from reeds (Juncus spp.) to water ferns. In the area of water ferns there is a very common one available at the nurseries and sometimes at fish stores. The floating fern (Azolla filiculoides) is called the Mosquito Fern. It is called that because it can be so dense on the surface of still water that not even mosquitoes can get through it to breathe. Another water-bog fern is the Marsilea (Marsilea oligosporia), easily recognizable because it looks like a pot full of four-leaf clover (no, not oxalis).

Just imagine a small pond, a few gold fish, a small pile of lava rock with water flowing down the rocks and the bright yellow Monkey Flower showing on top of the flowing water and the Marsilea showing up below. It's just heaven for the water garden lover!

It's a new avenue for some of you water garden lovers who never thought that California natives could fit into the picture.

Don Miller, Horticulture Chair - July 1999

A CNPS member from Descanso notes that Anemopsis, Aquilegia, and Equisetum are other good native plants in and around a water garden.

Horticulture | Home

[Dedicated to the Preservation of California Native Flora]
California Native Plant Society, San Diego Chapter
c/o San Diego Natural History Museum - P.O. Box 121390, San Diego, CA 92112-1390 -