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
Leucadendron 'Rising Sun' 6-8 feet. Narrow leaves, erect habit. Cream and red bracts in winter.
Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' 6 feet or more. Winter flowers turn tips bright yellow.
Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' 6-8 feet. Dark narrow leaves, red floral bracts for months in winter.
Leucadendron salignum 'Chief' 6-9'h. Red-green leaves, vibrant red in summer. Pink bracts around yellow flowers.
Leucadendron salignum 'Summer Red' 3-4 feet. New leaves bright red; tulip shaped flowers in winter with red and cream bracts.
Leucadendron salignum 'Winter Red' 3-4 feet. Winter leaves flushed rich purplish red; tulip shaped flower bracts red.
Leucadendron 'Sylvan Red' 6 feet. Sturdy stems, red and cream bracts are showy in winter.
Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' 6 feet. Sturdy rounded shrub; golden flower bracts in late winter, early spring.
Leucadendron 'Yaeli' To 8 feet+, bushy, upright. Narrow light green leaves, red stems, yellow bracts in winter.
Leucospermum cordifolium 'California Sunshine' Showy golden orange pincushion flowers in spring. Best in mild winter areas.
Leucospermum cordifolium 'Goldie' Pincushion. To 4'+. Spectacular golden yellow flowers in spring.
Leucospermum 'High Gold' PP#10644 Showy yellow pincushion flowers in spring. Best in mild winter areas.
Leucospermum 'Spider' Showy light pink and golden yellow furry flowers in spring. L.tottum hybrid.
Leucospermum 'Tango' Pincushion. Spectacular orange and red flowers in spring.
Leucospermum 'Veldfire' Dense shrub with dark green leaves. Striking golden yellow and red pincushion flowers in spring.
Lewisia 'Dark Cloud' Suncrest Nurseries seed strain; flowers deep rose.
Lewisia 'Little Peach' L. longipetala hybrid. Large starry yellow to apricot flowers over low succulent leaves.
Lewisia 'Little Plum' L. longipetala hybrid. Starry clear pink flowers over low succulent leaves.
Lewisia 'Pink Cloud' Suncrest Nurseries hybrids, 8 inch flower sprays. Large bright pink flowers.
Lewisia 'Rainbow' Single to semi-double flowers, white, pink, red, yellow.

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