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
Anigozanthos flavidus--blush red Kangaroo paw; 5-6 foot stems, furry light red flowers.
Anigozanthos flavidus 'Burnt Orange' Kangaroo paw; 5-6 foot stems, dark orange flowers.
Anigozanthos flavidus--dark red Kangaroo paw; 3 feet flower stems, tubular flowers.
Anigozanthos flavidus--pink Kangaroo paw; stems to 4'; pink flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Gold Velvet' Iris like leaves in clumps to 16 inches; red flower stems with golden yellow flowers on 3 foot stems.
Anigozanthos 'Harmony' Vigorous; 5 feet high. Dark, shiny leaves, reddish stems, yellow flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Kiwi Dawn' Kangaroo paw. 4 feet high. Yellow flowers have orange fuzz.
Anigozanthos 'Kiwi Illusion' 3'. Bright orange fuzzy flowers over green lvs.
Anigozanthos 'Kiwi Mist' 4-5 feet high. Red stems and buds, green interior on flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Mini Cape Magenta' Very compact clump, flower stem to 12 inches, pink fuzzy flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Orange Cross' Kangaroo paw, to 5 feet; dark green leaves, orange flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Pink Beauty' Fans of erect green leaves; furry bright pink flowers on 2 foot stems.
Anigozanthos 'Pink Joey' Kangaroo paw; dark green leaves, pink flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Red Cross' Kangaroo paw; iris-like leaves, dark red flowers, to 5 feet.
Anigozanthos 'Regal Velvet' Kangaroo paw, to 4 feet. Flowers combine red and green.
Anigozanthos 'Royal Cheer' 3'. Kangaroo paw. Bright red and green fls. in spring.
Anigozanthos 'Ruby Velvet' Iris like leaves in clumps to 2 feet; flower stems with red flowers to 40 inches.
Anigozanthos rufus Kangaroo paw; 2-3 foot stems, topped by dark red flowers.
Anigozanthos rufus Backdraft Kangaroo paw; 2-3 foot stems, topped by dark red flowers.
Anigozanthos 'Tequila Sunrise' 5 feet or more. Orange furry flowers on tall stems.

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