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
Leptospermum scoparium 'Nanum Ruru' Dense low shrub, single rose flowers, tiny leaves.
Leptospermum scoparium 'Nanum Tui' Tea tree; dense, 4 feet high by 8 feet wide, pink to white flowers.
Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Cascade' 8 inches high by 12 feet wide. Dense mounds, bright pink and white flowers.
Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' Tea tree. Double white flowers open from blush pink buds.
Leptospermum scoparium 'Ruby Glow' Tea tree. Double deep red flowers, purple-tinged leaves.
Leptospermum scoparium 'Silver and Rose' Grey leaves, billowy form. Light rose pink single flowers in spring.
Leptospermum scoparium 'Wiri Kerry' 3 feet. Rounded form, shiny dark red leaves. Double rose red flowers.
Leptospermum scoparium 'Wiri Shelly' 6 feet. Green leaves; single rose pink flowers, dark centers.
Leptospermum turbinatum 'Flat Rock' To 6 feet. Glossy dark green leaves, bright white flowers, spring.
Lessertia montana 4 feet high and wide. Grey divided leaves, bright red pea flowers, summer.
Lessingia (Corethrogyne) filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet' Santa Barbara Botanic Garden introduction. Low, with grey leaves, pink daisies.
Leucadendron 'Ebony' PP#23258 Purplish black leaves on a slow growing shrub, dark red flower bracts winter-spring.
Leucadendron galpinii 6-7'h; narrow, silvery-gray lvs. Flowers are silvery-pink cones.
Leucadendron galpinii 'Silver Cone' Narrow silvery leaves on upright shrub. Large silver cones develop after flowering.
Leucadendron 'Jester' Erect shrub has vivid pink & cream edges on green leaves.
Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown' Erect habit. Pink to red cones tip stems in spring.
Leucadendron laxum Willowy stems with narrow leaves bear cone "flowers" in winter and spring. Cones and foliage are good for cutting.
Leucadendron linifolium Flexible stems with small leaves and flowers. Ornamental cones.
Leucadendron 'Little Red' Probably a L. salignum hybrid or selection. Narrow, softly hairy leaves, red/cream fls.
Leucadendron 'Pisa' Upright habit with soft silvery leaves and large ornamental cones. Cream bracts around flower cones.

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