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
Alyssum saxatile 'Gold Ball' Grey green leaves make low mound, covered with vivid yellow flowers in early spring.
x Amarine tubergenii 'Anastasia' Broad clusters of fragrant deep pink flowers in fall. Amaryllis x Nerine hybrid.
x Amarine tubergenii 'Belladiva Mix' Clusters of fragrant light to deep pink flowers in fall. Amaryllis x Nerine hybrid.
Amarygia hybrids Naked lady. Large, fragrant flowers, deep rose to white.
Andropogon ternarius 2-3 feet. Erect, blue grey stems. Feathery silver flower tufts.
Anigozanthos 'Amber Velvet' Kangaroo paw. Iris like leaves to 18 inches. Flower stems have orange red fuzz, yellowish flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Big Red' Kangaroo paw. To 5'+. Red flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Dawn' To 5'. Yellow fuzzy flowers on erect stems.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Gold' Kangaroo paw. 2 feet leaves. Orange buds, gold flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Nugget' Golden fuzzy flowers on red stems to 3-4 feet.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Ranger' 2 feet high. Red furry flowers attract hummingbirds.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Sunset' 4 feet high. Red furry flowers attract hummingbirds.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Tango' Orange fuzzy flowers on stems to 5 feet, green leaves in clump to 2 feet.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Tenacity' Red stems with gold & yellow flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Cape Aurora' Low green leaves; yellow and green fuzzy flowers on 30 inch stems.
Anigozanthos 'Cape Magenta' Compact clump, flower stem to 18 inches, pink fuzzy flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Cape Red Lead' Compact clump, deep red fuzzy flowers on 20 inch stems.
Anigozanthos 'Dwarf Pink' Deep pink fuzzy flowers on stems to 2 feet.
Anigozanthos Everlasting Gold TM PPAF Yellow flowers on furry reddish stems. Long bloom.
Anigozanthos flavidus--bicolor form Kangaroo paw; 5-6 foot stems, pale green and light pink flowers.

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