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
Lewisia 'White Cloud' Suncrest Nurseries hybrids. Succulent rosettes, sprays of white flowers.
Leycesteria formosa Partridge berry. Arching shrub. Creamy white flowers with red bracts in drooping clusters, maroon to black fruits attrac
Leymus (Elymus) arenarius 'Findhorn' Blue lyme grass. To 1 foot; thicketing, grey leaves.
Leymus (Elymus) arenarius 'Glaucus' Blue lyme grass. To 2 feet, thicketing, with blue grey leaves.
Leymus (Elymus) californicus Wide green leaves, arching flower stems to 5 feet have drooping tips. Shade.
Leymus (Elymus) condensatus 'Canyon Prince' Thicketing grass, to 2-3 feet high; grey-green leaves.
Leymus (Elymus) species--Mexico Erect to 3-5 feet, spreading. Wide blue-grey leaves.
Leymus (Elymus) triticoides 'Grey Dawn' Colonizing grass with narrow, soft grey erect stems to 2 feet or more.
Leymus (Elymus) triticoides--Hedgerow short Creeping wild rye. Green leaves, stems to 2 feet. Spreading.
Leymus (Elymus) triticoides--Hedgerow tall Creeping wild rye. Green leaves, stems to 2-3 feet. Widely spreading.
Leymus (Elymus) triticoides 'Lagunita' TM Spreading, thickets; slender stems to 12-20 inches; bright green leaves.
Liatris spicata 'Kobold' Gayfeather; grassy leaves; 2-3 foot dense spikes of pink flowers.
Limonium perezii 2 feet. Sea lavender. Purple and white flowers.
Linum lewisii Blue flax. Slender stems, narrow leaves, sky blue flowers.
Lithodora diffusa 'Blue Star' Starry flowers are dark blue with wide white petal edges held over mat of dark green leaves.
Lithocarpus densiflorus Evergreen tree with stiff dark brownish green leaves; pale new leaves ornamental in late spring.
Lithodora diffusa 'Grace Ward' Fuzzy dark green mat; bright true-blue flowers.
Lithodora diffusa 'White Star' PP#20078 Dark blue starry flowers with white centers and blue edges are abundant over mat of dark green leaves.
Lobelia excelsa Clumping, with stems to 4-5 feet. Narrow orange and yellow flowers.
Lomandra confertifolia 'Finescape' Very narrow green leaves in a tidy clump.

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