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.

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Plant Name Capsule Description
Wisteria floribunda 'Kuchibeni' 20'+h. Long fl clusters w/ pale pink fls and darker tips.
Wisteria floribunda 'Kyushaku' ('Macrobotrys') Masses of 3 feet+ clusters. Flowers with purple keel, lilac banner.
Wisteria floribunda 'Lavender Lace' Japanese wisteria. Fragrant lavender and white flower tresses to 3 feet long.
Wisteria floribunda 'Longissima Alba' Japanese wisteria. Long trusses of fragrant white flowers.
Wisteria floribunda 'Peaches and Cream' 12-18"long fl.clusters lt pink, darker tip. AKA 'Kuchi-beni'.
Wisteria floribunda 'Peaches and Cream' AKA 'Kuchi-beni'. 12-18 inch long flower clusters are light pink with darker petal tips.
Wisteria floribunda 'Pink Ice' Japanese wisteria. Light pink flowers in long trusses.
Wisteria floribunda 'Purple Patches' ('Kyushaku'?) Japanese wisteria. Very long tresses of purple & white flowers.
Wisteria floribunda 'Royal Purple' Japanese wisteria. Long trusses of dark purple, scented flowers.
Wisteria floribunda 'Shiro Noda' Japanese wisteria. Very long tresses of white flowers, spring.
Wisteria floribunda 'Snow Showers' Long clusters of pure white flowers in spring.
Wisteria floribunda 'Tea Garden Form' Large divided leaves, long tresses, purple and white flowers.
Wisteria floribunda 'Violacea Plena' 2 foot tresses. Double violet blooms marked with white and yellow.
Wisteria floribunda 'White with Blue Eye' Long tresses of white flowers with greyish blue calyces.
Wisteria frutescens American wisteria. Fragrant lavender flowers in 6 inch clusters, summer.
Wisteria frutescens 'Nivea' American wisteria. 6 inch clusters of fragrant white flowers in summer.
Wisteria 'Kofuji' 2-3 feet. Dwarf, fine leaved shrub. Occasional flowering shoot.
Wisteria macrostachya 'Blue Moon' Clusters of lavender blue fragrant flowers in summer.
Wisteria sinensis 'Amethyst' Chinese wisteria; masses of bright pinkish purple fragrant flowers.
Wisteria sinensis 'Blue Sapphire' Chinese wisteria; to 15 feet. 1 foot long lilac flower clusters.

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