Keep the It Girls Happy

By Cassy Aoyagi: While the new look of LA is about much more than foliage, every show is more interesting when it includes some eye-candy. In LA, we have no shortage of that! The question is how to draw the right blooms to your party and keep them happy once they are there.

Like college girls, California native blooms run in packs. They look for friends who have their same habits. Who like the same environments. Who drink about the same amount. If you want to keep one particular bloom happy, look at who she needs around her. Here are the all-native cliques you need to know if you want to make it in LA.

California Lilac

There is no doubt Ceanothus, aka California Lilac, can turn heads. I mean, how many bushes can carry off that color? She’s stunning in it! Every paparazzi in town wanted a shot of her this spring.

Early in her career, people touted Miss Lilac’s star power, but she quickly gained a reputation for being a bit difficult. As is so often the case, those attracted to her beauty simply discounted her true depth.

Ceanothus does well when she can play off an all star cast. She pairs well with Indian Mallow, who brings silvery tones and buttercup blooms without trying to steal the show. We also like her with Red Buckwheat – they are a real riot of pom-poms when they are in sync.

The Sage Sisters

For years, Hummingbird Sage has been LA’s hottest It girl, and her sisters Cleveland and White Sage have benefitted from her popularity.

Together, the sage sisters made it chic to carry heavier blooms and sport thick foliage that scents the air with a fresh earthy fragrance. There is no doubt these three will be contenders for years to come.


While there is no doubt sisters often compete for attention, these three┬ádo a great job of encouraging one another’s talents. We want to see this family stay together.


Yet another California native belle came to the 2017 tour season with bells on. Heuchera maxima aka Island Alumroot seemed to be everywhere, peaking out from behind two, shall we say, larger friends. While her foliage can hold its own, she comes across as small and delicate next to Giant Chain Fern and Juncus `Elk Patens,’ who never seem to leave her side.

As lovely as they are, this crowd is shady. I mean really shady. I’ve caught them in dry spells, and they are still perfectly lovely. That said, if you want to find them on your own – or keep them happy – they like the dives under dense tree foliage where it’s a little easier to get a drink.

For more on native blooms and their companions, check out our wet-to-dry plant exchange.