Listed below are some of our favorite nurseries selling California Native Plants:
Greater Los Angeles Area
Theodore Payne Foundation, Sun Valley, CA
Theodore Payne is perhaps the one individual most responsible for introducing California native plants to the horticultural trade. A foundation in his name lives on, selling plants and seeds as well as dispensing invaluable information in their many classes and workshops. Also hosts an annual Wildflower Hotline.
Matilija Nursery, Moorpark, CA
A nursery that specializes in native plants for restoration and large projects. They are also open to the public, with great prices. Their website is a hoot.
West Valley Nursery, Tarzana, CA * NEW
According to LACNPS, West Valley has a good selection of robust and healthy looking plants in their California Native Plant section. Located at 19035 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana. (818) 342-2623.
Tree of Life Nursery, San Juan Capistrano, CA
Another dual retail/wholesale nursery with a great website. They recently signed a deal with Armstrong Nurseries, which should make their plants easier to find.
Sperling Nursery, Calabasas, CA
Sperling carry a range of good quality California natives from Native Sons and other nurseries; the selection tends to lean toward shrubs (Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, and so on) rather than perennials. Usually have a good selection of Salvias though (native and non-native), so it's always worth a stop if you're a Salvia nut.
Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, Thousand Oaks, CA
During the winter plants sales will be held on the 1st Saturday of the month at the CVBG nursery, 10am to 12pm. Other times of the year plants sales are held every first and third Saturday of the month. If you happen to be visiting the garden, check if anyone is volunteering in the greenhouse area, as you may be able to buy plants between sales as well. Free.
Tarweed Native Plants, Los Angeles
A small nursery that often features unusual specimens. Open to the public by appointment.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont
Their big plant sales are in the Spring and Fall, but you'll find plants for sale from November through May outside the gift shop, with a small selection of potted plants during the summer. Don’t forget to bring a picnic and enjoy a nice stroll around the demonstration garden.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara, CA
Their retail nursery is open year-round, and staffed from 10am–3pm (though you can pay for plants outside those times in the gift shop). Mostly natives, they also have a large selection of less expensive 4" plants. Great bookstore, too.
Other California Nurseries
Native Sons, Arroyo Grande, CA
Although a wholesale nursery, their website contains lots of useful information on plants and planting. Their plants are available at many nurseries – even Armstrong's (wonders will never cease!). Nursery owner David Fross is also a great speaker, should you have the chance to hear him present, as well as the co-author of the book California Native Plants for the Garden.
Las Pilitas Nursery, Santa Margarita and Escondido, CA
This is one of the most information-packed websites you will find on California native plants. Las Pilitas is a wholesale nursery which is also open to the public, and they have recently started shipping mail order.
Suncrest Nurseries, Watsonville, CA
Suncrest is a wholesale nursery that propagates a wide range of California natives (not surprisingly since Nevin Smith is their Director of Horticulture). You can download their CA Natives catalog and find retail nurseries in your area that stock Suncrest plants.
A project of the California Native Plant Society's East Bay Chapter dedicated to growing locally native plants for appropriate restoration of East Bay sites. We haven't had a chance to visit this native plant nursery in Berkeley yet, but we like the emphasis on butterfly host plants on their website. They will also grow your own local seed!
Yerba Buena Nursery, Woodside, CA
Yerba Buena Nursery is a retail plant nursery selling over 600 varieties of plants native to California. They host a two-acre Demonstration Garden and a Garden Shop. Plants for sale are well marked with information cards telling the origin of the plants and appropriate use in the garden. Their website has lots of gardening advice plus articles on butterflies and bees.
Mountain Valley Growers, Squaw Valley, CA
One of the best mail order sources for plants we know (especially organic herbs).
Nurseries outside California
Outside of California, a few mail order nurseries worth checking out:
High Country Gardens, Santa Fe, New Mexico
I don't believe we've ever ordered from HCG, but their catalog sure is pretty! A mail order nursery specializing in drought-tolerant plants for butterfly and hummingbird gardens (Salvia, Agastache, and so on).
Recommended by one of our visitors, Forestfarm is a mail order nursery in Williams, Oregan; by all accounts their large catalog is also worth ordering.