Hero Image

Healthy Plants

 University of California Master Gardeners support healthy plants with sustainable landscaping practices, water conservation, water quality, green waste reduction, wildlife enhancement and energy conservation.  County-based UC Master Gardeners focus on appropriate plant selection for the local climate, providing residents with guidance on proper care and placement of plants. With a knowledge of invasive plant species that affect California’s landscapes and wildlife, UC Master Gardeners work with residents and organizations to protect local ecosystems.

Below are just a few examples of the many outstanding projects developed by UC Master Gardeners throughout the state.  Visit your local program website for a full listing of projects in your county. 


UC Davis Arboretum
The Arboretum All-Stars program is a joint project of the UC Davis Arboretum, the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), and UC Cooperative Extension. The program seeks to promote appropriate plants for sustainable California landscapes. Selecting from the list of 100 Arboretum All-Stars is an easy way for landscapers and home gardeners to enhance the beauty and eco-friendliness of their gardens.

“In order to better understand the appeal and usefulness of the All-Stars in different climate zones throughout the state, UCCE has been conducting plant trials in cooperation with UC Master Gardener programs since 2007. UC Master Gardeners are an important key to the Arboretum All-Star project, providing research, valuable feedback, and by raising awareness about native and low water-use plants with the clientele in their counties.” - Karrie Reid, Director 

UC Master Gardeners report on pest or disease problems, flowering, overall appearance, and other ornamental features (such as durability, size, and leaf qualities). Monthly evaluation data are compiled for analysis, and the information is disseminated through print and online media, public workshops, and seminars. 

PlantRight Spring Nursery Survey
Each year UC Master Gardeners around the state participate in PlantRight’s Spring Nursery Survey, a collaborative effort to track the availability of invasive plants in California retail stores. This collaborative partnership is very important in helping the nursery industry to replace invasive plants with environmentally safe alternatives. 

"The results from this survey help us remove invasive plants from all aspects of the nursery supply chain. Through their role as citizen scientists, UC Master Gardener volunteers are protecting California from further spread of invasive plants that would otherwise degrade our valued natural areas and threaten wildlife." Christopher Crawford, PlantRight

This past year more than 130 volunteers - over 90% of whom are UC Master Gardener volunteers - donated more than 350 hours of their time, collecting data from 223 nurseries and retail stores in 38 counties across the state. Each survey provides PlantRight with the critical information it needs to update its list of invasive garden plants. 

Farm + Food Lab, UCCE Orange County - © University of California
Orange County, Calif. - Created to inspire and educate the public about the history of agriculture, basics of nutrition and the origins of their food, The Farm & Food Lab is a one-acre demonstration garden located at the Orange County Great Park in lrvine, Calif. The garden consists of twelve themed beds, as well as an espaliered fruit tree orchard, blueberry container orchard, compost and vermicomposting exhibits, outdoor classroom area, and seasonal exhibits.

"At retail prices, the Farm & Food Lab has produced crops with a retail value in excess of $30,000. Second Harvest and the Orange County Food Bank have expressed extreme gratitude to the Great Park, especially with the current economic downturn and serious shortage in food supplies.” – Orange County Great Park, www.ocgp.org

The Farm & Food Lab demonstrates best practices in sustainable home gardening techniques. It is designed, planted, and maintained by UC Master Gardeners of Orange County, who hold garden workshops, act as docents, staff special events, and participate in organizing tours for schools and other groups.