Alphabetical Plant Listing

Regions / Northern-California


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Northern California - Inspiring Garden Ideas For All Gardeners

Selecting plants suited to the Northern California climate is a key step to success.

A plant's performance is governed by many climate related factors including the length of the growing season, the amount of rainfall, winter lows, summer highs, wind or humidity. Various initiatives have taken place to determine how well plants would withstand the cold winter temperatures (Plant Hardiness Zones) or when plants would start suffering from the heat (Plant Heat Zones). A more sophisticated approach has been followed by Sunset which defines Climate Zone Maps based not only on hardiness or heat tolerance, but also on precipitations, wind, humidity and various other climate related factors.

Northern California lies in Climate Zones 1 through 9, and 14 through 17. If you know your climate zone, find the best plants or exciting garden ideas for your geographic area.


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Abies grandis (Grand Fir)

One of the tallest firs in the world, Abies grandis (Grand Fir) is a large evergreen conifer of narrow, conical habit becoming round-topped or straggly with age. Its spreading and drooping branches are densely clad with sharp-tipped needles, shiny dark green above with two silver bands beneath. The needles are arranged in 2 distinct, flattened rows. They exude an orange aroma when crushed.

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Abies lasiocarpa 'Green Globe' (Alpine Fir)

Abies lasiocarpa ‘Green Globe’ is a semi-dwarf, evergreen conifer of globose habit when young, becoming conical over time, and clothed in a lush foliage of short, soft, green needles. Slow-growing, 3-6 in. per year (7-15 cm), this Alpine Fir is a great choice for foundation plantings or rockeries.

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Abies nordmanniana 'Golden Spreader' (Caucasian Fir)

Stately and elegant, Abies nordmaniana 'Golden Spreader' is a slow-growing evergreen conifer of great beauty, particularly in the winter garden. While this dwarf Nordman fir sports a soft green color in summer and fall, its needles turn bright golden-yellow in winter.

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Acer platanoides 'Crimson King' (Norway Maple)

Majestic, award-winner Acer platanoides 'Crimson King' (Norway Maple) is a vigorous medium-sized deciduous tree prized for its large, rich purplish-crimson leaves that last throughout the summer and its purple fruits. Its oval to rounded, dense crown fills with ornamental clusters of reddish-orange flowers in the spring, just as the leaves emerge. They give way to purple samaras. In the fall, the leaves turn brown, dark maroon or bronze before dropping. Excellent as a shade tree or specimen to add accent to the landscape.

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Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

Noted for its lovely fall color, Acer rubrum (Red Maple) is a relatively fast-growing deciduous tree of pyramidal habit when young, becoming rounded to oval at maturity. In early spring, tiny red flowers, borne in erect clusters, appear before the leaves and are followed by red fruit. Emerging red tinged in spring, the leaves change to dark green with whitish undersides and often develop dazzling yellows and red in the fall. This Red Maple also provides some winter interest, with its attractive, smooth gray bark, often ridged and furrowed with age.

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Acer x freemanii 'Autumn Blaze' (Freeman Maple)

Highly popular, award-winning Acer x freemanii 'Autumn Blaze' (Freeman Maple) is a fast-growing, large deciduous tree noted for its ascending branch habit and glorious fall color. Its dense, oval to rounded canopy of deeply cut, bright green leaves, turns brilliant orange-scarlet to crimson-red in fall. The delicate foliage holds its color for several weeks before shedding to the ground. This Freeman Maple also provides some winter interest, with its smooth, thin, gray bark that becomes slightly furrowed with age.

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Actinidia arguta 'Issai' (Hardy Kiwi Vine)

Grown for its attractive foliage and edible fruit, Actinidia arguta 'Issai' (Hardy Kiwi Vine) is a compact, deciduous climber that produces grape-sized, smooth-skinned, green fruits in late summer to early fall. While they are smaller than grocery store varieties, they are slightly sweeter and enjoy an excellent flavor.

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Actinidia deliciosa (Kiwifruit)

Actinidia deliciosa (Kiwifruit) is a vigorous, deciduous, woody-stemmed, twining climber with broadly ovate, heart-shaped, lustrous mid-green leaves, 5-8 in. long (12-20 cm). Slightly fragrant clusters of cup-shaped, creamy-white flowers are borne in late spring.

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Actinidia kolomikta (Variegated Kiwi Vine)

Prized for its flamboyant foliage, Actinidia kolomikta (Variegated Kiwi Vine) is a large vigorous deciduous climber producing a striking foliage mass of heart-shaped leaves, 3-5 in. long (7-12 cm), some in solid green, others white-splashed green and others heavily variegated with pink.

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Actinidia polygama (Silver Vine)

Creating a sparkling effect, Actinidia polygama (Silver Vine) is a vigorous, scrambling/twining, deciduous climber producing a striking foliage mass of heart-shaped, dark green leaves, 3-5 in. long (7-12 cm), adorned with silvery-white tips - as if each leaf has been dipped in paint.

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Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii' (Red Horsechestnut)

Noted for its outstanding floral display, Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii' (Red Horsechestnut) is a medium-sized deciduous tree of rounded to broad-rounded habit with a dense canopy of lustrous dark green leaves adorned with 5-7 leaflets. In late spring, erect cone-shaped panicles, 10 in. long (25 cm), of dark red flowers cover the tree for a spectacular display.

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Aesculus x carnea (Red Horsechestnut)

Noted for its outstanding floral display, Aesculus x carnea (Red Horsechestnut) is a medium-sized deciduous tree of rounded to broad-rounded habit with a dense canopy of lustrous dark green leaves adorned with 5-7 leaflets. In late spring, erect cone-shaped panicles, 8 in. long (20 cm), of bright rose-red flowers cover the tree for a spectacular display.

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Agastache rugosa 'Golden Jubilee' (Korean Mint)

Luminous, Agastache rugosa Golden Jubilee' (Korean Mint) is an upright, clump-forming perennial with attractive spikes of fragrant, tubular, lavender-blue flowers from midsummer to early fall. Adding lovely vertical lines to the landscape, they are held over the golden-green foliage of aromatic, lance-shaped leaves.

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Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' (Carpet Bugle)

Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' (Carpet Bugle) is a creeping perennial prized for its short spikes of fragrant, deep blue flowers and very glossy, near-black, scalloped leaves. Blooming in late spring to early summer, the flowers rise above the contrasting, spreading rosettes formed by the leaves, putting on an eye-catching display.

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Ajuga reptans 'Blueberry Muffin' (Carpet Bugle)

Fast growing, Ajuga reptans 'Blueberry Muffin' (Carpet Bugle) is a vigorous evergreen perennial prized for its blueberry-blue flowers and thick leaves, which quickly form a dense mat of attractive rosettes. Emerging with a bronze flush in mid-spring, the small but weather resistant, green leaves contrast nicely with the lavender-blue flower spikes

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