LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Nurseries made record sales during the coronavirus pandemic as many people looked to pick up gardening as a new hobby.
However, most plants people grow come from outside of California and can be harmful to nature, especially monarch butterflies. Many people don’t realize that California native plants can bring their yards to life, with butterflies, hummingbirds and more.READ MORE: Woman's Stolen Car Contained 10 Years Of Research On Biological Parents Who Gave Her Up At Birth
The Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley is leading the movement to transform the state’s landscape by promoting drought-friendly plants that will still thrive in people’s yards. It’s a unique nursery in that all its plants are native to California.
“It’s (California) not a desert landscape,” Evan Meyer with the Theodore Payne Foundation told CBS2 News This Morning’s Suzanne Marques. “A lot of people think that. But it’s a Mediterranean landscape. So it’s much more of a shrubland, with flowers, and really lush with a lot of vegetation.”
California native plants are drought tolerant, requiring little water. The added magic is what Marques calls the Snow White effect: they’ll attract hummingbirds, honeybees and butterflies.
“The plants of California have evolved with the animals of California, so when you bring those plants into your garden, you’re creating habitat for the native animals, not only the native plants, but the native animals as well,” Meyer tells Marques.
WEB EXTRA: Watch a tour through Theodore Payne’s nursery with one of the foundation’s experts.READ MORE: Cal ISO Issues Flex Alert For Thursday Due To Heat Wave, Extended To Friday
Theodore Payne is located just outside of a heavily industrial area of Sun Valley. The 22-acre oasis is located in a canyon with gardens, picnic benches, hiking trails, seed stores, bookstores and nursery.
“People love the hummingbird sage, which is a beautiful aromatic plant that grows in shade, which is great to have,” Meyer said. “And then milkweed, that’s the biggest one right now, is milkweed, because it supports the Monarch butterflies.”
Monarchs lay their eggs on California milkweed, and once they become caterpillars, they eat the leaves.
However, tropical milkweed is an example of a non-native plant that is bad for butterflies. It confuses monarchs into breeding when they should be migrating. It’s such a serious issue, Northern California just set aside $1 million to plant California milkweed for our monarch population.
“I think the most exciting thing for kids might be the Monarch butterfly, to see the caterpillars, see them form the chrysalis, and then, that opens up and you have a butterfly flying around all of a sudden,” Meyer said. “So for children, this idea of connecting with nature in your own personal space is really an amazing thing.”
It doesn’t have to be done in a yard. If you have just a small patio space, such as a balcony, you can grow California native plants in pots and get all those same benefits. If you don’t have that, there are tons of community gardens where you can get involved in this idea.MORE NEWS: Lafayette Shon Whaley Ordered To Stand Trial In Shooting Of Lady Gaga's Dog Walker
Get information on Theodore Payne’s classes and events on their website here.