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
Lachenalia aloides 'Pearsonii' Cape cowslip; pendant flowers gold with red and green.
Lachenalia pendula Cape cowslip; pendant orange-red bells, winter. 8 inch stems.
Lamiastrum galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride' Spreading shade ground cover. Silver-patterned leaves, yellow flowers.
Lampranthus blandus Spreading mat of blue green chunky leaves, bright pink flowers in summer.
Lampranthus 'Orange Flame' Low mat of succulent green leaves. Vibrant orange flowers in spring.
Lampranthus 'Purple Parade' Succulent green leaves stay low. Vivid mauve purple flowers in spring and summer.
Lantana camara 'Red Spread' PP#14691 Flowers open orange, then turn dark red.
Lantana 'Chapel Hill Yellow' PP#19548 Very hardy lantana has bright yellow flowers in the warmer months.
Lantana montevidensis (sellowiana) Hardiest lantana. Dark green leaves, deep lavender flowers, trailing.
Lantana montevidensis 'Alba' Low spreading shrub. Green leaves, white flowers. Long bloom season.
Laurus nobilis True bay, can be grown as tree or shrub. Leathery aromatic dark green leaves.
Laurus nobilis 'Aureus' True bay. New growth pale gold then dark green leaves.
Laurus nobilis forma angustifolia Narrow leaf form of true bay. Reputed to be hardier.
Laurus nobilis Sicilian Sunshine TM Slow growing form of true bay has vivid yellow leaves in all seasons. Great accent plant in sun or shade.
Laurus nobilis 'Sunspire' Grecian laurel. Dense, smaller-leaved selection.
Laurus 'Saratoga' Male-no fruit. Robust shrub, broad dark green leaves. Cream flowers. To 6-15 feet.
Lavandula x allardii 'Meerlo' PP#25559 Yellow edged grey-green leaves mound to 2-3 feet; light lavender flowers in summer. L. dentata x L. latifolia hybrid.
Lavandula angustifolia English lavender; 2 foot mound. Fragrant, lavender flowers, grey leaves.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Betty's Blue' 24 inches. English lavender. Fragrant grey leaves; spikes with dark lavender flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Blue Cushion' 16 inch mound. Compact habit, deep blue flowers.

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