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Going Native for Beauty and Drought Tolerance

This article appeared in the June 26, 2015 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Going Native for Beauty and Drought Tolerance

photo by Artslave


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


As this drought drags into a long hot summer in California, many gardeners are moving toward drought tolerant, native plants that consume much less water than a lawn of grass. One great choice is our state flower, the California poppy, as campers at Explorit Science Center’s Summer Science Camp are discovering.


This week, afternoon campers explored local Central Valley ecology and made native seed strips to take home to plant. You can join in the fun at home by cooking your own seed glue, then pasting together biodegradable seed strips to plant in your yard.


You will need: a pot, a stove, 1 tablespoon of corn starch, 1 cup of water, a spoon, a cotton swab, a paper towel, scissors and California poppy seeds. Combine the cornstarch and water in the pot and stir until the cornstarch is thoroughly dissolved.


Make sure an adult is available to help with the stove. Heat the cornstarch mixture over medium heat and stir as it thickens. The seed glue is ready when it just sticks to the spoon before sliding off. Let the seed glue cool before you use it.


To get started, cut your paper towel into strips that are 2 inches wide, then fold them lengthwise to make a crease. Open the fold and use the cotton swab to put small dots of glue along the bottom half of your paper towel strip, below the fold.


Add one or two seeds to each dot of glue, then fold your paper towel back over the seeds and glue. The glue will hold the two halves of the towel together until you’re ready to plant.


You can plant your poppies just about anywhere where there’s plenty of sun. Poppies are hardy flowers and can tolerate many different kinds of soil as well as survive on just a little water. Both the paper towel and the seed glue will biodegrade.


Beyond their drought tolerance and bright, showy color, poppies are an excellent choice for supporting vital insect life. Poppies rely on bees and other pollinators for their own reproduction, so they’re a great food source for bees whose declining colonies can use all the help they can get.


Poppy pollen can also serve as food for a wide variety of other insects who in turn become food for other wildlife, making poppies an important link in local food chains. Beauty, functionality and drought resistance all in one bright orange package!



Explorit’s coming events:


  • Explorit’s Exploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and every Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free. Come check out the new “Our World in Water” activities!
  • Interested in helping out the community through board membership? Explorit is currently seeking individuals in the community to serve as members of our volunteer board. Please call or email for additional information on how to apply.
  • Interested in membership?  Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up!
  • Birthdays are back at Explorit!  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.



Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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