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California Native Plant Society

Santa Clara Valley Chapter

Wildflower Seed Planting

Grow Wildflowers - Grow Butterflies!

Acmon Blue ButterflyCNPS Santa Clara Valley Chapter is promoting biodiversiity by giving free wildflower seeds to enthusiastic gardeners who can re-energize the ecosystem in their home gardens. Together, we can bring back butterflies, bees, and birds. The beauty, color, and scent of flowers fill us with joy. Yet, very importantly, to the bees, butterflies and birds, flowers are an essential source of nourishment for their survival. The plants and flowers provide pollen for bees, nectar for butterflies and moths, and essential food for their young, the caterpillars. 

poppies & goldfieldsEach seed packet you receive from us contains California native wildflowers in rich hues of gold, orange, pink, purple and blue that, depending on their mix, will cover an 80-130 square foot area if scattered thinly and allowed space to grow to their natural dimensions.  The flowers will bloom in succession from early spring through late summer. You can disperse these seeds in an area planted with native grasses for a meadow effect. 

Butterflies drink nectar from many different types of flowers, but lay their eggs on just one or two types of host plants that will feed their offspring. The Variable Checkerspot, Silvery Blue, and other butterflies and moths rely on the plants in this packet as a caterpillar food source. The caterpillars, in turn, are essential for the survival of our local birds, since 96% of the birds that visit your yard depend on caterpillars to feed their young. Read New York Times Best Seller Nature’s Best Hope by Doug Tallamy or tune into the video.

Scattering a mason-bee-dee-crop2-small.jpgpacket of native wildflower seeds is a joyful way to restore lost essential habitat while enhancing your gardening experience. We hope you revel in the beauty of the flowers, colorful caterpillars, variety of pollinators, baby birds, and the dance of life in your garden. We offer several varieties of seed packets containing mixes from Larner Seeds:

Click on the links above for detailed planting instructions and descriptions of the seed mixes. For more information, check out the instructions at the Larner Seeds website.

Spread the word to your friends and neighbors. Some neighborhoods are creating “butterfly corridors” with patches of wildflowers and native plants in each of their gardens. clarkias-crop2-small.jpgEnjoy! 

Your Wildflower Ambassadors at CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Chapter 

Contact us with questions at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Resources for Gardeners

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is a science-based organization founded in 1965 with a mission to conserve California native plants and their natural habitats, and increase understanding, appreciation, and horticultural use of native plants. The Santa Clara Valley chapter covers Santa Clara County and southern San Mateo County. Check out the great resources on our website and the numerous talks on native plant gardening and native plant science on our YouTube channel. We also have chapter fieldtrips, online plant sales, and other exciting events like our annual Growing Natives Garden tour. The CNPS state website also has excellent resources and information to get you started with native plant science or gardening. 

Tortoiseshell crop. smallWant to find more California Native plants specific to your area, and the butterflies that use them as host plants? Then check out the wonderful CNPS Calscape website, which includes descriptions and planting information about every California native plant and links to native plant nurseries all over the state. For a user guide to using this amazing resource, watch this talk.

Discover flora and fauna in your region and across the globe, and even post your own observations on the iNaturalist app.

Seek answers to questions:

Why should we grow native plants to save birds and butterflies?  Listen to Susan Karasoff here

How can you restore nature in your garden? Dennis Mudd shares his insights

Where can you find more information about pollinator plants? Juanita Salisbury is an expert who talks about this. 

When should you plant, water, prune, or leave things alone? Helen Popper shares a month-by-month guide for California gardeners.

What planting methods and soil will ensure success? Haven Kiers from UC Davis shares some research. 

Looking for more native seeds? Check out the great selection at Larner's SeedsVarious mixes are also available from Pacific Coast Seeds. Also, Botanical Interests sells “California Color” and “Narrow Leaf Milkweed”.

Need Plants? Find nurseries and plant sales using our list.poppy w bee crop small

Seeking a few more butterfly resources? The Xerces Society is a great resource as well as the Bay Area Wildlife resource website. 

Looking for a list of great books for gardening with native plants and ifor wildlife? Go to our resource page for books.

Need help getting started with a native plant garden? Tips are available in this video

Want to see most of California’s native habitats in one location? Check out the Regional Botanic Garden in Tilden Park. 
Here is a list of public gardens with native plants.

Field Trip! Chapter field trips are listed here or on our Meetup page.

Contact us with questions at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Seed Packet Descriptions and Planting Instructions

Hills of California

These plants are designed to provide a bloom over a period of 3 months. The moths and butterflies hosted by these plants is just a sample, these plants are a host to many more.

Planting Instructions

Fall through winter is the ideal time to start growing California native wildflowers as these have adapted to capitalize on the fall and winter rains (October-February is best). 

Checkerspot neou crop smallChoose A Site & Prepare Your Soil

Choose a spacious site in full sun. Prepare your soil (or several very large pots), by removing all existing growth and debris. If your soil is clay, break it up with some compost or cactus soil (sold at nurseries).

Water thoroughly to help seeds settle into the soil. Continue to water a few times a week, unless it rains, so they don’t dry out after germinating.

After you plant your seeds, let the area ‘go natural’ by leaving the leaf litter on the ground. While many butterflies go into chrysalis on stems or other hard surfaces like branches, many others go into chrysalis in the debris. If you rake or blow it, you could accidentally throw them away.

Avoid using pesticides anywhere in your garden, it will kill the beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, and ladybugs that you are trying to attract. Try to ignore bugs, as they are part of the ecosystem (for instance, hummingbirds eat aphids). If you hose the plant or try to remove pests you may dislodge butterfly or ladybug eggs or kill tiny caterpillars.  Avoid using herbicides as they also poison the ecosystem you are trying to nurture.

Plants In The Hills Of California Mix

Farewell to Spring, Clarkia amoena (hosts White Lined Sphinx Moth, Clark’s Day Sphinx Moth)                              
Mountain Garland, Clarkia unguiculata (hosts White Lined Sphinx Moth, Clark’s Day Sphinx Moth)
Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla (hosts Variable Checkerspot)
California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica (useful to pollinators, hosts Acmon Blue, Dotted Blue, Mormon Metalmark, etc.)
Globe Gilia, Gilia capitata (host to Fairy Longhorn Moth)
Goldfields, Lasthenia glabrata (hosts Small Heliothodes Moth)                                                                                                
Tidy Tips, Layia platyglossa (hosts Small Heliothodes Moth)Linum-lewisii-closeup-crop-small.jpg
Blue Flax, Linum lewisii (hosts Variegated Fritillary)
Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor (hosts Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Gray Hairstreak)
Sky Lupine, Lupinus nanus (hosts Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Gray Hairstreak)
Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus (hosts West Coast Lady, Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Gray Hairstreak)
Five Spot, Nemophila maculate (hosts Funereal Duskywing)
Baby Blue-Eyes, Nemophila menziesii (hosts Owlet Moth)
Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolila – (hosts Bilobed Looper Moth, beloved by bees)

NOTE: A more comprehensive list of the number of butterflies each plant hosts, and details about the plants and butterflies, can be found at Calscape.org

*”Host” = key food source for the caterpillars of these particular butterflies, that co-evolved to specialize over thousands of years. Butterflies die out without these plants.


California Shady Wildflower Mix

The moths and butterflies hosted by these plants is just a sample, these plants are a host to many more.

Planting Instructions

Fall is the ideal time to start growing California native wildflowers, so they can become established and bloom sooner. But you can also sow them in winter or as late as early spring.  This packet covers 80 sq. ft.

Baby Blue Eyes crop smallChoose A Site & Prepare Your Soil. Choose a site with a minimum of 6 hours of sun or dappled shade. Prepare your soil by removing all existing growth and debris.

If your soil is clay, break it up with some compost or cactus soil (sold at nurseries). You could opt to cover the area 4” thick with cactus mix to smother potential weed seeds.

Don’t fertilize the area, as this will not mimic the native soil these plants are used to and could impede their growth

Scatter seeds very thinly and rake them gently into the soil. Don’t cover them with any more soil or they may not germinate.

Water thoroughly to help seeds settle into the soil. Continue to water a few times a week so they don’t dry out after germinating. Or simply wait for the rainy season and water on the dry days.

Try to let the area ‘go natural’ by leaving the leaf litter on the ground. Many butterflies go into chrysalis in the debris and if you rake or blow it, you could accidentally throw them away.

Avoid using pesticides anywhere in your garden, it will kill the beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, ladybugs that you are trying to attract. Avoid herbicides as they also poison the ecosystem you are trying to nurture.

Plants In The California Shady Wildflower Mix

Mountain Garland, Clarkia unguiculata (hosts Clark's Day Sphinx Moth)                                                   Sphinx-moth-crop-2-small.jpg
Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla (hosts Variable Checkerspot)
Baby Blue-Eyes, Nemophila menziesii (hosts Owlet Moth)
Five Spot, Nemophila maculate (hosts Alfalfa Looper Moth)
Farewell to Spring, Clarkia amoena (hosts White Lined Sphinx Moth)
Punchbowl Godetia, Clarkia bottae (hosts Mariposa Forester)
Bird’s Eye Gilia, Gilia tricolor (hosts Spotted Sun Straw Moth)
Grand Linanthus, Linanthus grandifloras (hosts Buckwheat Borer Moth)

*”Host” = key food source for the caterpillars of these particular butterflies, that co-evolved to specialize over thousands of years. Butterflies and moths die out without these plants.

California Pollinator Seed Mix

Includes a seed mix of variety of sun loving California native annuals and perennials that sustain pollinators over a long season. The moths and butterflies hosted by these plants is just a sample, these plants are a host to many more.

Planting Instructions

Bombus crotchii himes crop smallFall is the ideal time to start growing California native wildflowers, so they can become established and bloom sooner. But you can also sow them in winter or as late as early spring. This packet covers approximately 130 sq. ft. 

Use planting instructions from the Hills of California Mix. 

Plants In The California Pollinator Seed Mix

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium (hosts Northern Scurfy Quaker, Olive Arches, Yarrow Plume Moth, Smeathmann's Aethes Moth)
Mountain Garland, Clarkia unguiculata (hosts Clark's Day Sphinx Moth)
Fort Miller Clarkia, Clarkia williamsonii (hosts  Clark's Day Sphinx Moth, White-lined Sphinx, Pacific Green Sphinx Moth, Mariposa Forester)
California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica  (useful to pollinators, hosts Acmon Blue, Dotted Blue, Mormon Metalmark, etc.)Lupinus micrantha densiflorus himes crop small
Central Valley Gumplant, Grindelia camporum (hosts Orange Tortrix Moth, Cremastobombycia grindeliella)
Dense-flowered Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus var. densiflorus (hosts Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Boisduval's Blue, Silvery BLue, Orange Sulphur) 
Rock Phacelia, Phacelia californica (hosts Oidaematophorus phaceliae, Clepsis fucana, Bilobed Looper Moth, Orange Tortrix Moth)
Great Valley Phacelia, Phacelia ciliata (hosts Bilobed Looper Moth, Orange Tortrix Moth, Geranium Plumed Moth)
Bolander's Phacelia, Phacelia bolanderi (hosts Bilobed Looper Moth, Orange Tortrix Moth, Geranium Plumed Moth)
Serpentine Sunflower, Helianthus bolanderi (hosts Painted Lady, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, California Patch)

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