Question from Alin:
I’m looking for native plants species for erosion ; many of the plants you mentioned are from Australian/S. Africa.
Answer from Pat:
You are correct. I have indeed recommended many plants as bank covers that are native to Australia, South America, the Mediterranean Basin, and South Africa. Many are colorful and easy to grow in California and easy to grow on banks. Some will survive with no irrigation once established, but many California native plants can survive in summer without irrigation. Thank you for suggesting that I provide some ideas for Cailfornia native plants that can be used to control erosion on steep banks. Here are some ideas:
Many varieties of California lilac (Ceonothus) make fine native ground-covers to grow on steep banks in coastal zones. Among the best selections and varieties for this purpose are Ceonothus gloriosus ‘Anchor Bay’; Carmel Creeper (C.g. exaltatus); and C.h.g. ‘Yankee Point’. Other native ground covers good for banks include Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri), Manzanita (Archtostaphylos), and Monkey flower (Mimulus).
Taller than the above lilac varieties is C. ‘Julia Phelps’, which is particularly stunning planted on a steep bank next to flannel bush (Fremontedendron ‘California Glory.)—Make sure not to water flannel bush in summer. Plant it in fall and just spritz the foliage with a little spray of water in the evening of hot dry days in summer to make the plant feel as if it has been moistened by a light shower or heavy dew. This is enough to get it through the summer. Summer irrigation can kill it.
Other native shrubs that are useful for controlling erosion on steep banks include lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia), dwarf coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis), Bush anemone (Carpenteria californica), Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), toyon (Heteromleles arbutifolia), and coffee berry (Rhamnus californica).
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