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 x intermedia 'Fred Boutin' Low, bushy; large grey leaves, typical lavender flowers.
Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso' Dense, shrubby. Grey-green leaves,1-2 foot stems, dark lavender flowers.
Lavandula x intermedia 'Phenomenal' PP#24193 Aromatic grey leaves, lavender flowers. Selected for disease/winter resistance.
Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence' Hybrid lavender. Bushy, grey, fragrant. Stems to 3 feet.
Lavandula 'Lisa Marie' 1-2 feet. Soft grey leaves. Fragrant bright lavender flowers. Ken Montgomery selection.
Lavandula 'Silver Frost' 2 feet+. Thick white leaves, dense growth, bright lavender blue flowers.
Lavandula 'Silver Sands' White furry leaves, spikes of purple flowers. L. lanata hybrid.
Lavandula stoechas 'Bandera Purple' Very compact form of Spanish lavender, only 9-12 inches high. Purple flags.
Lavandula stoechas 'Double Anouk' PPAF Spanish lavender. Extra purple flags tip each flower spike.
Lavandula stoechas 'Marshwood' Vigorous form of Spanish lavender has silvery green leaves. Light purple flags tip flower heads.
Lavandula stoechas 'Madrid Purple' Delightful fragrance.Spikes of violet-purple flowers.
Lavandula stoechas 'Otto Quast' Spanish lavender. Upright, dense. Dark bracts, dark lavender flowers.
Lavandula stoechas 'Purple Ribbon' Spanish lavender seed strain. Purple flags, tidy habit.
Lavandula stoechas 'Silver Anouk' PP#20068 Spanish lavender, 18-24 inches. Very silver leaves, purple flowers.
Lavandula stoechas 'Violet Lace' PP#18254 Spanish lavender to 2 feet. Green leaves, red purple "flags" top the flower spikes.
Lavandula stoechas 'Winter Bee' PP#20840 Spanish lavender. Very compact, long blooming form.
Lavandula stoechas 'Wings of Night' Bushy, to 2 feet+; grey leaves, large, dark flower bracts.
Lavandula stoechas ssp. pedunculata 'Avonview' 2 feet+. Spanish lavender, long flower stems, purple bracts.
Lavandula stoechas ssp. pedunculata 'Dedication' 2 feet+. Spanish lavender, long flower stems, purple bracts.
Lavandula stoechas ssp. pedunculata 'Ghostly Princess' PPAF Silvery leaves, pink flags top dense flower heads on tall stems.

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