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
Achillea millefolium Spreading mats of ferny pale green leaves; heads of white flowers on erect stems. California native, from organic seed.
Achillea millefolium 'Astral Rose' 1-2'h. Large clusters of dark pink fls.
Achillea millefolium--Black Butte White flowers on erect stems, spreading mats. California seed strain.
Achillea millefolium--Black Butte short White flowers on erect stems, spreading mats. California seed strain.
Achillea millefolium 'Calistoga' Soft grey leaves form spreading mats; white flowers on erect stems. California native.
Achillea millefolium 'Cameo' Common yarrow; peach flower heads age soft pink.
Achillea millefolium 'Colorado' Common yarrow; to 2';fls red, pk, yellow, cream
Achillea millefolium 'Dusky Rose' 12"h. Mauve flowers on erect stems, spreading mats.
Achillea millefolium--dwarf white fl. native Common yarrow; dissected leaves, broad flower heads.
Achillea millefolium 'Fireland' Ferny green mat; flat heads, orange red flowers.
Achillea millefolium--High Sierra dwarf California mountain selection has light green, very low lvs. White fls. on stems to 8-12 inches.
Achillea millefolium--Lake County White flowers over light green leaves. Spreading mats, California seed strain.
Achillea millefolium 'La Luna' Suncrest Nurseries selection. Bright soft yellow flowers, ferny green leaves.
Achillea millefolium 'Lavender Beauty' Ferny green mat; flat heads, lavender pink flowers.
Achillea millefolium 'Montara Mountain' Large form of California yarrow, to 3'. White flowers over ferny green leaves. Spreading mats.
Achillea millefolium--Palisades strain 12-18 inches. White flowers, light green leaves. From California mountains.
Achillea millefolium 'Pink Island Form' Broad mats; 1-2 foot stems, bright pink flowers.
Achillea millefolium 'Red Beauty' Dark green mats, dissected leaves; 1-2 foot stems; dark red flowers.
Achillea millefolium 'Red Velvet' Dark rosy red flowers stay bright; green leaves.
Achillea millefolium 'Rosa Maria' Suncrest selection. Deepest rose flowers in flat heads; dark blue-green leaves.

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