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
Lavandula angustifolia--dwarf form Dwarf English lavender. Fragrant, lavender flowers, grey leaves.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Graves' 2-3 feet. Violet flowers on long stems. Nicely fragrant.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote' Under1 foot; bright grey leaves, dark purple flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote Superior' Under 1 foot; bright grey leaves, dark purple flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Mailette' Very aromatic, valued for high quality essential oil. Grey-green leaves, violet flowers. Loose habit.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Martha Roderick' 18 inches feet, dense; very aromatic; bright lavender flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Mitcham Gray' 18 inches, bright grey leaves; deep violet blue flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead' 1-2 feet; upright, with narrow leaves, lavender flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia Platinum Blonde TM PP#23834 Fragrant grey-green leaves have distinctive cream edges. Lavender flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Royal Purple' 15 inch foliage mound; bright violet blue flowers to 2 feet.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Royal Velvet' Compact mound to 2 feet. Fragrant leaves; violet flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Sachet' Dwarf lavender. Bright blue violet flowers, aromatic.
Lavandula angustifolia 'SuperBlue' PP#24929 English lavender. 15". Dense grey-green mound. Full heads blue fls.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Thumbelina Leigh' PP#15231 12-15 inches. Dwarf English lavender. Blue green leaves, dark lavender flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Twickel Purple' Low grey mound; flower stems to 2 feet, bright dark violet flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Violet Intrigue' PP#15344 English lavender. Deep purple flowers on long stems are held over aromatic, grey green leaves in early summer.
Lavandula 'Big Boy James' PPAF Dentata x latifolia hybrid. Grey soft leaves like dentata, English lavender-type wands of lavender flowers.
Lavandula 'Goodwin Creek Grey' Bushy habit. Bright grey leaves. Disease resistant.
Lavandula x heterophylla Fast hybrid lavender, with greyish green leaves, dark violet flowers.
Lavandula x intermedia 'Dutch Mill' 2'h. Dense grey leaves; lavender flowers on spikes in early summer.

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