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
Salvia clevelandii 'Deer Spring Silver' 4-5 feet. Aromatic grey leaves; bright blue flowers, summer.
Salvia clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman' 3-4 feet. Grey-green leaves, red stems, whorls of deep blue flowers.
Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph' 2-3'h. Spikes of bicolor salmon-coral white flowers. Long bloom.
Salvia 'Dancing Dolls' PP#19820 Suncrest Nurseries introduction; clouds of rose and cream flowers, dark stems.
Salvia 'Dancing Embers' TM Suncrest Nurseries hybrid. Dark shiny leaves, huge vivid red flowers.
Salvia 'Dancing Lights' TM Suncrest hybrid. Microphylla type has vivid rose red & light pink flowers.
Salvia 'Dancing Shadows' TM Suncrest hybrid. Painted icy pink and white flowers, red violet stems.
Salvia 'Dara's Choice' 18 inches high by 3 feet+ wide. Carpeting. Green leaves, lavender-blue flowers.
Salvia 'Dark Dancer' Wintergreen Nursery selection. Bushy, with large, vivid plum purple flowers.
Salvia dolomitica To 5 feet. Oval silvery leaves; large mauve pink flowers.
Salvia dorrii hybrid Small grey leaves, light blue flowers.
Salvia 'Envidiosa' 4-5'h. Hybrid from Peru/Bolivia; intense red-violet fls.
Salvia 'Fancy Dancer' PP#24088 Suncrest hybrid. Creamy pink & raspberry flowers, compact habit. Greggii type.
Salvia 'Fire Dancer' TM Suncrest Nurseries hybrid. Bushy greggii type. Large coral-red flowers.
Salvia 'Flamenco Rose' TM Suncrest Nurseries hybrid. Bushy, very large bright rose pink flowers.
Salvia 'Full Moon' TM 18 inches high. Suncrest hybrid. Creamy lower lip, rose tube, black stems. Dense.
Salvia 'Gayle Nielson' 3-4 feet. Small grey leaves; whorls of deep blue fls.
Salvia 'Golden Girl' PP#23997 Suncrest hybrid. Very compact. Bright golden yellow flowers, greggii type.
Salvia 'Golden Ruffles' TM Suncrest hybrid. Greggii type. Dark calyx, many ruffled yellow flowers.
Salvia greggii 'Furman's Red' Deep, glowing red flowers on 2-3 foot shrub.

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