23 California Native Shade Plants

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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If you live in Cali, you must grow these California Native Shade Plants! They’ll grow without much care and uplift your lawn.

Looking for California Native Shade Plants? You’ve come to the right place. Read on and find out the best varieties that you can grow in a shaded place without the worry of them dying or wilting.

Best California’s Native Shade Plants

1. Western Columbine

California's Native Shade Plants 1

Botanical Name: Aquilegia formosa

USDA Zones: 3-8

Western Columbine is an excellent choice for shaded areas that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies with its flowers that look like hanging lanterns.

2. California Fuchsia

Botanical Name: Epilobium canum

USDA Zones: 7-10

California Fuchsia is a beautiful flowering perennial. It reaches about 1-2 feet in height and has lovely gray-green foliage and red, orange, or pink flowers.

3. Western Bleeding Heart

California's Native Shade Plants 3

Botanical Name: Dicentra formosa

USDA Zones: 3-8

The Western Bleeding Heart is a California native that doesn’t need much care. Just give it partial shade and compost from time to time and it will thrive.

4. Redwood Sorrel


Botanical Name: Oxalis oregana

USDA Zones: 7-9

Redwood Sorrel is a pretty little plant that makes an excellent shade ground cover. You can also consume its foliage–it’s lemony and a bit sour. And who wouldn’t want such nice pink flowers?

5. Pacific Coast Iris

California's Native Shade Plants 5

Botanical Name: Iris douglasiana

USDA Zones: 6-10

Pacific Coast Irises are mostly dwarf in size and don’t grow more than 2 feet in height. They come in many pretty colors, and some even have patterns and veining. They’re really low maintenance once established.

6. Red Fescue

Botanical Name: Festuca rubra

USDA Zones: 3-8

Red Fescue is a shade-loving grass that’s native to California. It is a cool season grass that makes a great ornamental plant. Plus, it has a fine texture and is resistant to drought.

7. California Hazel

California's Native Shade Plants 7

Botanical Name: Corylus cornuta var. californica

USDA Zones: 4-8

California Hazel is a small tree with edible nuts that wildlife loves. It want a garden that’s full of flora and fauna, you should definitely plant this.

8. Western Azalea

Botanical Name: Rhododendron occidentale

USDA Zones: 7-9

Western Azaleas are evergreen shrubs that can grow 6-10 feet tall. They also have showy flowers that bloom from March to May with red, orange, pink, and white shades.

9. Western Sword Fern

California's Native Shade Plants 9

Botanical Name: Polystichum munitum

USDA Zones: 5-9

If you’re a fan of ferns and need one that thrives in shade, this Californian native might be perfect. It can adapt to different conditions and has stunning arching fronds.

10. California Wax Myrtle

Botanical Name: Myrica californica

USDA Zones: 7-10

California Wax Myrtles are small trees or shrubs with glossy green foliage that give off a sweet smell. The plant also has attractive berries and makes a lovely landscaping choice.

11. Evergreen Huckleberry

California's Native Shade Plants 11

Botanical Name: Vaccinium ovatum

USDA Zones: 7-9

Evergreen Huckleberry has year-round evergreen foliage and showy flowers of a creamy pink color that look like tiny urns. It also has black-purple berries that birds love. You can eat these as well.

12. Western Spicebush

Botanical Name: Calycanthus occidentalis

USDA Zones: 7-9

Western Spicebushes are famous for their maroon flowers and spicy scented leaves in California. These shade plants can grow 10-12 feet tall and need little care. You will also find beetles living on these.

13. Bishop’s Hat

California's Native Shade Plants 13

Botanical Name: Epimedium spp.

USDA Zones: 5-9

Bishop’s Hat plants have heart-shaped leaves and tiny spring flowers. There are over 60 species of these available but the best ones are Sweetheart, Frohnleiten, and Warburg’s Ruby.

14. California Wild Ginger

Botanical Name: Asarum caudatum

USDA Zones: 7-10

California Wild Ginger has hairy, cup-shaped flowers and is a low-growing groundcover, only reaching a foot in height. It’s also deer resistant and gives off a gingery scent.

15. California Bay Laurel

California's Native Shade Plants 15

Botanical Name: Umbellularia californica

USDA Zones: 8-10

The California Bay Laurel trees are native to the coastal forests of California and thrive in shade. The leaves of these trees have a strong, peppery flavor that can be used fresh or dried in many recipes.

16. Deer Fern

Botanical Name: Blechnum spicant

USDA Zones: 5-9

Deer Ferns are native to Europe, Western Asia, and North America. They’re prominent in California and have flat, wavy-margined leaflets. It has a unique upright, clumping growth habit.

17. Coast Silk Tassel

California's Native Shade Plants 17

Botanical Name: Garrya elliptica

USDA Zones: 7-10

Coast Silk Tassels look like they’re straight out of a movie. These shade plants native to Oregon and California have long, showy catkins that bloom in spring.

18. Western Trillium

Botanical Name: Trillium ovatum

USDA Zones: 4-8

Western Trillium have flowers made up of three large white petals and have broad, ovate-shaped leaves. These plants thrive in shade and can be easily multiplied by the division of rhizomes.

19. Western Wild Ginger

California's Native Shade Plants 19

Botanical Name: Asarum caudatum

USDA Zones: 4-9

Western Wild Ginger plants have shiny, heart-shaped (or kidney-shaped) leaves that form dense carpets as the rhizomes spread. They also give gorgeous flowers in late spring and early summer.

20. Western Dogwood

Botanical Name: Cornus nuttallii

USDA Zones: 7-9

Western Dogwood trees have large white flower clusters with bright green leaves. The leaves turn red, orange, and purple in fall and also give bright pink-red berries in late summer.

21. Sierra Iris

California's Native Shade Plants 21

Botanical Name: Iris hartwegii

USDA Zones: 5-9

Sierra Iris is another California native that thrives in shade. It has nice lavender or yellow flowers and doesn’t grow more than a foot and a half tall.

22. Coffeeberry

Botanical Name: Frangula californica

USDA Zones: 7-10

Coffeeberry is a great choice for a shady hedge or screen as it can grow up to 15 feet tall and nearly 10 feet wide. Plus, it produces small black berries that birds love.

23. Deer Grass

Botanical Name: Muhlenbergia rigens

USDA Zones: 7-10

Deer Grass is an ornamental one that thrives in shady spots. It also changes colors. It’s green in the summer and turns a pretty golden brown when fall arrives. Deer Grass can also tolerate different soil conditions.

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