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
Narcissus bulbocodium Hoop petticoat daffodil. 6-12 inch dainty clumps. Yellow flowers.
Nepeta cataria Catnip; bushy perennial, to 2 feet. Textured aromatic leaves, lavender flowers.
Nepeta x faassenii Catmint; 1 foot mound; grey-green leaves, lavender flowers.
Nepeta x faassenii 'Angel's Wings' White edged leaves create a bright effect. Lavender blue flowers. Sport of 'Blue Wonder'.
Nepeta x faassenii 'Blue Wonder' Catmint; low grey-green mound; dark lavender blue flowers.
Nepeta x faassenii 'Limelight' Bright lime-yellow leaves form low mound; spikes of lavender blue flowers in spring and summer.
Nepeta x faassenii 'Snowflake' Catmint. 1 foot mound. Grey-green aromatic leaves, white flowers.
Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low' Catmint. 1 foot mound. Grey-green aromatic leaves, lavender blue flowers.
Nepeta grandiflora 'Summer Magic' PP#27090 Green leaves stay low, spikes of blue violet flowers. Not floppy.
Nepeta 'Joanna Reed' Upright clumps with dusty green leaves, lavender blue flowers. N. faassenii x N. sibirica.
Nepeta nervosa 'Pink Cat' Dwarf catmint to 10 inches. Grey-green leaves, dense spikes of pink flowers.
Nepeta 'Pink Pixie' Dwarf catmint to 10 inches. Grey-green leaves, pink flowers.
Nepeta 'Purple Haze' PP#23180 Hybrid catmint makes low mat of grey-green aromatic leaves. Spreading spikes of dark blue purple flowers.
Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' Catmint. Similar to Nepeta x faassenii, but larger. Grey-green leaves, lavender blue flowers.
Nepeta sibirica 2'h. Whorls of small violet-blue fls; aromatic deep grn foliage.
Nolina bigelovii Rounded clump of tough narrow leaves, makes trunk with time.
Nolina microcarpa 3 feet. Tough green arching leaves, clumping. Spikes of cream flowers.
Nolina texana Stemless clump, 3 feet. Narrow leaves, short stems of white flowers.

© 2000-2017 Suncrest Nurseries, Inc