top of page

Climate-Resistant Plants in Mendocino: A Gardener’s Guide

Mendocino County, with its breathtaking coastline, redwood forests, and mild Mediterranean climate, is a gardener’s paradise. However, even in a temperate region like Mendocino, climate change and variability can pose challenges for maintaining a beautiful and sustainable garden. Thankfully, many climate-resistant plants thrive in our local environment, offering both beauty and resilience. Here’s a guide to some of the best climate-resistant plants for your Mendocino garden.

1. White Sage (Salvia apiana)

The white sage scrub, known for its silvery-green leaves and soothing fragrance, has been used for generations by various Californian Native tribes. The seeds were a staple ingredient in pinole, a traditional mixture of ground grains and spices. Today, white sage is popularly used for smudging, a practice of burning sage for purification. Various animals like quails, grouse, and sparrows feed on its seeds, while larger creatures like elk, mountain sheep, rabbits, and antelope graze on the foliage.


  • Soil: Requires well-drained, fairly dry soils.

  • Sunlight: Needs full sun.

  • Water: Excess water, especially during summer, can kill the plant.

  • Benefits: Highly effective for stabilizing or restoring disturbed or degraded areas.


  • Watering: Avoid overwatering, particularly seedlings, to prevent mildew and aphid infestations.

  • Environment: Plants thrive in full sun and dry conditions; excessive humidity can cause health issues.

  • Resistance: Mature plants are resistant to herbivores.

2. Common Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita)

Exuding a rugged beauty with its reddish bark and evergreen leaves, the common manzanita is not only aesthetically pleasing but essential for local wildlife. Deer use it for cover and food, while its flowers attract bees and beneficial insects. The fruits are vital food for animals like deer, raccoons, skunks, ground squirrels, coyotes, and bears. For California tribes, manzanita berries make a delicious cider, and its leaves offer medicinal tea to alleviate headaches and colds.


  • Soil: Adapts to sandy, well-drained soil and clay.

  • Sunlight: Requires full sun; seedlings are highly sensitive to shade.

  • Fire Adaptation: While moderate fire can kill mature plants, it also activates seed germination.


  • Fire Cycle: Fire-adapted with burn intervals of 30 to 50 years.

  • Post-Fire Recovery: Moderate fire supports seed germination; high-intensity fire can destroy both plants and seeds.

3. Coyote Mint (Monardella sheltonii)

Coyote mint, also known as Shelton’s monardella, is a hardy, aromatic flowering plant native to the mountains of Northern California and Southern Oregon. It thrives in chaparral, forests, and often in serpentine soils. With its purple, nectar-rich flowers, it attracts butterflies and other pollinators. Indigenous communities have used coyote mint to treat stomach issues, respiratory conditions, and sore throats.


  • Soil: Grows well in sandy, well-drained soils and clay.

  • Sunlight: Prefers full to partial sun.

  • Watering: Requires minimal water once established.


  • Spacing: Ensure good air circulation to prevent mildew, especially in damper climates.

  • Growth: Smaller and shorter-lived in wetter climates; thrives in dry, rocky areas.

4. Angelica Root (Lomatium californicum)

Angelica root, sometimes referred to as wild parsley, is a versatile plant in the carrot family that thrives in dry, sunny, rocky areas. It's beneficial for butterfly gardens, as it is a host plant for swallowtail butterflies. Indigenous people discovered a multitude of uses for this plant, from edible leaves and roots to medicinal applications for lung ailments and fevers. The sap even serves as a natural skin moisturizer.


  • Soil: Prefers very dry, sunny, rocky locations, often found in chaparral and oak woodland openings.

  • Watering: Requires very low to low watering.


  • Location: Plant in fully or partially shaded areas for best results.

  • Propagation: A perennial herb that grows 1-4 feet tall, it features small yellow flower heads.

5. California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

California fuchsia, known for its brilliant red tubular flowers, provides a stunning display of color in late summer and early fall. It’s a magnet for hummingbirds and other pollinators. Native American tribes have traditionally used the plant for various medicinal purposes, including treating wounds and respiratory issues.


  • Soil: Adapts well to sandy, rocky, and clay soils.

  • Sunlight: Prefers full sun.

  • Watering: Low water requirements once established.


  • Pruning: Cut back in late winter to encourage new growth.

  • Soil: Tolerant of poor soils but thrives in well-drained conditions.

  • Pests: Generally pest-free, making it low maintenance.

6. Purple Needlegrass (Stipa pulchra)

As California's state grass, purple needlegrass is a resilient native species known for its deep root system, making it excellent for erosion control and soil stabilization. It’s also an important habitat and food source for various wildlife. Native tribes have used its seeds as a food source.


  • Soil: Grows well in a variety of soils, including clay and loamy soils.

  • Sunlight: Prefers full sun.

  • Watering: Low water requirements, very drought-tolerant.


  • Mowing: Can be mowed to a height of 4-6 inches to maintain appearance.

  • Soil: Adaptable to different soil types but prefers well-drained conditions.

  • Fire: Regenerates well after fire, making it suitable for fire-prone areas.

Visit Cucina Verona for a Delightful Dining Experience

After immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Mendocino’s resilient flora, why not treat your taste buds to a culinary delight? At Cucina Verona, we celebrate local and seasonal ingredients, bringing the bounty of Mendocino County to your plate. Whether it’s a cozy brunch or an intimate dinner, our menu offers a range of delicious dishes crafted with love.

Join us at Cucina Verona and savor the flavors of Mendocino after a day spent nurturing your climate-resistant garden. Click here to make a reservation.


bottom of page