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
Danthonia californica California oatgrass. Clumping, bright green leaves, airy flowers.
Dasylirion longissimum Long narrow tough leaves, distinctive starburst habit.
Dasylirion wheeleri 3 foot crowns, grey leaves, with spiny edges; tall spikes of cream flowers.
Delosperma 'Alan's Apricot' PPAF Plant Select. Flat growing hardy succulent with many petaled apricot to soft pink flowers.
Delosperma congestum Hardy succulent. Tight green clump; bright yellow flowers.
Delosperma cooperi Hardy succulent. Spreading stems have narrow dark green leaves, and large vivid purplish pink flowers in spring.
Delosperma Fire Spinner TM Flat, hardy. Bright flowers are orange with violet central zone then an ivory center.
Delosperma Fire Wonder PP#25645 Flat growing, green leaves. Red petals, yellow center. Wheels of Wonder TM selection.
Delosperma floribundum 'Starburst' Tight mat of low succulent rounded green leaves. Many red violet flowers with white center.
Delosperma Golden Wonder PP#25684 Flat growing, green leaves. Golden yellow fls. Wheels of Wonder TM selection.
Delosperma 'Jewel of Desert Moonstone' PP#23491 Hardy succulent. Low and spreading, with green leaves, white flowers.
Delosperma 'Jewel of Desert Peridot' PP#23566 Hardy succulent. Low and spreading, with green leaves, lemon yellow flowers with white center.
Delosperma lavisiae Matting succulent. Dark narrow leaves, magenta flowers. Hardy.
Delosperma Mesa Verde TM 'Kelaidis' PP#13876 Hardy succulent. Tight low succulent with little green leaves and many starry salmon pink flowers.
Delosperma nubigenum Hardy succulent. Spreading low green succulent; bright yellow flowers in spring.
Delosperma 'Oberg' Low mat of grey-green leaves. Many pink buds open to palest pink flowers.
Delosperma 'Orange Wonder' PP#25600 Hardy succulent. Spreading low succulent with green leaves, clear orange flowers.
Delosperma Red Mountain TM Flame Hardy succulent. Vivid red-orange flowers in summer over flat mat of succulent green leaves.
Delosperma sutherlandii Matting hardy succulent. Vivid red violet flowers.
Delosperma 'Violet Wonder' PP#25572 Hardy succulent. Spreading low succulent with green leaves, starry vivid purple flowers.

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