Plants for a Thirsty State

Public interest in plants with relatively low water requirements has come and gone several times over the past few decades. Each new dry cycle seems to bring a new awakening, a new missionary movement, and the “learning” of new approaches to gardening. All of these seem to be quickly forgotten soon after the wet years return. In the long run, however, it is clear that with a growing population and (at least in our lifetimes) declining rainfall averages over much of the state, Californians will be gardening with less water, like it or not, even in the best of years. Fortunately, there is already a large body of information on which to draw, some of it–like new developments in drip and spitter irrigation–being compiled continuously in the interest of more economical garden maintenance. Some of the best information on particular plants comes simply from observing neglected or abandoned gardens, regardless of current weather patterns.

Partly by design, partly by pursuing other fancies with plant groups from California, the Southwest, Mexico, temperate South America, Australia and South Africa, we at Suncrest have gradually accumulated a collection of several hundred plants with a record of at least moderate tolerance of summer drought. This means simply that they can be maintained in good condition with substantially less summer irrigation than the average popular garden plant (and vastly less than the lawns that still fill major portions of many California landscapes). The fact that many of these plants are also beautiful, fill nearly every possible garden niche, and collectively provide year-round seasonal interest, would make them desirable garden candidates even if water were not an issue.

You can use the alphabetical listings below (with page divisions for the larger groups) to easily access informational displays on these plants. More detailed descriptions and information on how to use them are now available in our new publication, Plants for a Thirsty State, in PDF format. Click here to download the complete publication, with color covers, in PDF format. A separate, smaller file with just the main body text is available here.

Select A Letter Below
Plant Name Capsule Description
Gaillardia aristata Firewheel. Large daisies have red centers, yellow tips.
Gaillardia aristata 'Amber Wheels' Large golden daisies have fringed petals, red center.
Gaillardia aristata 'Sunbird' Firewheel. Striking bright yellow daisies with central red cone.
Gaillardia x grandiflora Mesa TM Bright Bicolor Blanket flower. Bright yellow flowers have broad red central zone. Long bloom.
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Mesa Peach' Blanket flower. Bright gold flower with peach centers appear for months.
Gaillardia x grandiflora Mesa TM Yellow Blanket flower. Bright yellow flowers have broad red central zone. Long bloom.
Galvezia (Gambelia) juncea 'Gran Canon' Baja snapdragon. Blue green leafless stems tipped by bright red flowers. Arching mound.
Galvezia (Gambelia) speciosa ['Boca Rosa'] 3 feet. Bushy, many red "snapdragon" flowers, light green leaves.
Galvezia (Gambelia) speciosa 'Firecracker' 3 feet. Bushy, many red "snapdragon" flowers, furry pale green leaves.
Garrya elliptica 'Evie' Silktassel.To 15 feet high by 8 feet wide. Many 1 foot+ flower tassels in clusters.
Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' Silktassel. To 18 feet high by 12 feet wide. 10-12 inches clusters winter flowers.
Gaultheria shallon Salal. To 5 feet; reddish stems, thick, shiny leaves. White urn-shaped flowers, dark berries.
Gaura lindheimeri 'Lillipop Blush' PPAF Soft pink flowers, compact plants. Long bloom.
Gaura lindheimeri Pink Fountain TM PP#15555 Blush pink flowers, red new leaves change to green. Long bloom. Compact habit.
Gaura lindheimeri 'Rosyjane' Red purple flushed leaves, flowers are white with wide rose petal edge.
Gaura lindheimeri 'Siskiyou Pink' 1-2 feet high, spreading. Purple leaves, dark pink flowers.
Gaura lindheimeri 'Siskiyou Snow' TM Suncrest introduction. Dwarf, to 2 feet. Large pure white flowers.
Gaura lindheimeri 'Sparkle White' Compact habit. White flowers on wand-like stems. Long bloom.
Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies' White flowers on wand-like stems. Long bloom. Doesn't seed.
Genista lydia Prostrate broom; bright yellow flowers in spring.

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