By Cindy Weiner, Butte County Master Gardener, October 17, 2014
By fall most summer-blooming plants have run their course, while summer-dormant plants are just beginning to start their new growth for the season. You may feel your garden needs more color. Luckily for the gardener, there are some native plants which continue to bloom well into the fall and others which begin to bloom in late fall.
Native to many plant communities throughout California, including Butte County, California fuchsia (Epilobium canum) is a powerhouse that deserves a spot in every garden. This spreading perennial in the evening primrose family is available in low-growing forms that reach around six inches and upright varieties that can get up to three feet tall. The narrow leaves of the California fuchsia can be green, gray-green or gray and its trumpet- shaped scarlet flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. It blooms from early summer until the weather turns cold, requires little water and grows in full sun. Its branches should be cut back in late fall after flowering is finished.
Chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum) is a shrub of the gooseberry and currant family native to foothills in the Coast Range. In the wild it can grow in full sun but may do better with part shade in our area. It grows to five feet tall with an upright form. Its dull green leaves are hairy and lobed and are deer-resistant. In the wild it is summer dormant and will lose its leaves. Once established, it requires no summer irrigation but will stay green longer with some supplemental spring watering. It begins growing again in the fall and will bloom from around October until March. Chaparral currant has pink flowers growing in drooping clusters two to six inches long. The flowers are a good source of nectar for resident hummingbirds when few other plants are in bloom. Its blue-black fruit attracts many other birds. Because it requires little supplemental water, it can be planted under native oaks. It requires little pruning.
Fall is the best time to plant natives as they have time to get their roots established before the heat of next summer. If you plant some fall-bloomers now, you'll have some great color at this time next year.