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
Senecio talinoides 'Jolly Gray' Succulent 5 inch grey leaves stand erect; spreading stems. Cream flowers.
Senecio vitalis Erect stems have round blue-green succulent leaves.
Sequoia sempervirens 'Aptos Blue' Coast redwood. 100 feet or more. Pyramidal habit, blue-green leaves.
Sequoia sempervirens 'Santa Cruz' Coast redwood. Pippin-apple green leaves. Dense.
Sequoia sempervirens 'Soquel' Coast redwood. 100 feet+. Dense, whorled dark green leaves.
Sesamum indicum Annual. Opposite lvs and tubular fls. Fruit is a capsule full of seeds.
Sideritis cypria 18 inches high. Furry, thick grey-white leaves form dense mound. Yellow flowers, chartreuse bracts.
Sideritis oroteneriffae Broad white leaves, upright habit. Yellow flowers.
Sideritis syriaca White furry leaves stay low, spikes of yellow flowers.
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Arroyo de la Cruz' Blue-eyed grass. Selected for large, dark flowers.
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Ft. Bragg' Dwarf plant. Flowers lavender with violet center.
Sisyrinchium bellum 'H Bar H White' 8-12 inches. Blue-eyed grass; white-flowered clone.
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Occidental' 12 inches; vigorous heavy-blooming clone; large purple flowers.
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Rocky Point' Dwarf, dense selection. Purple-blue flowers.
Sisyrinchium bellum 'San Simeon' Compact clumps. White flowers in spring.
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Wild Night' Blue-eyed grass. Deepest blue-purple flowers, spring.
Sisyrinchium californicum Yellow-eyed grass. Iris-like leaves, yellow flowers.
Sisyrinchium 'Devon Skies' 6 inches high, clumping. Light lavender blue flowers with violet shading, then yellow center. No seeds.
Sisyrinchium 'E.K. Balls' Dense clump, to 6 inches high. Bright purple flowers.
Sisyrinchium 'Wayne's Dwarf' 4-6 inches. Tight clump, blue purple flowers.

© 2000-2017 Suncrest Nurseries, Inc