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
Lomandra confertifolia 'Seascape' PP#20010 Graceful clumps of arching, narrow dark blue grey leaves.
Lomandra hystrix Katie Belles TM PPAF Wide green leaves in tidy clump. Grows in sun or shade. Yellow flowers in summer.
Lomandra hystrix TropicBelle TM PP#20759 Sturdy clumps of wide green leaves. Will grow in sun or shade.
Lomandra longifolia 'Breeze' PP#15420 2-3 feet. Deep green leaves, clumping. Versatile, tidy.
Lomandra longifolia 'Gary's Green' Sturdy clumps of wide dark green leaves. Grows in sun or shade, good under eucalyptus.
Lomandra longifolia 'Lime Tuff' PP#23034 Rich green lvs, clumping. Spikes of tiny fragrant flowers. Sun or shade.
Lonicera etrusca Dark green leaves; soft yellow fragrant flowers, spring.
Lonicera hispidula Native vine with blue-green leaves, pink flowers, coral red berries.
Lonicera japonica 'Halliana' 15 feet+. Vigorous. White and yellow fragrant flowers.
Lonicera japonica 'Purpurea' Japanese honeysuckle. Purplish leaves. White and lilac flowers.
Lotus (Hosackia) crassifolius var. otayensis Soft grey furry erect stems, clusters of purple and white flowers.
Lotus (Acmispon) grandiflorus Loose mound with grey-green leaves and stems; creamy pea flowers appear in spring and mature to ornamental chestnut seed
Luma apiculata 10 feet+. Dark green shiny leaves, white flowers, blue fruit.
Luma apiculata 'Glanleam Gold' To 6 feet. Wide gold edges on light green leaves, new leaves reddish.
Lupinus albifrons--Indian Valley strain Silver bush lupine. Sturdy, to 5 feet. Scented blue purple flowers.
Lupinus albifrons--selected strains Silver bush lupine, to 5 feet. Spikes of scented violet flowers.
Lupinus albifrons var. collinus Matting plant with silvery leaves, blue purple flowers.
Lupinus albifrons var. douglasii Bush lupine with silvery green narrow leaves, blue purple flowers.
Lupinus arboreus--lavender Bush lupine; 6 feet+; grey-green leaves, lavender blue flowers.
Lupinus arboreus--white Bush lupine; 6 feet+; grey-green leaves, spikes of white flowers.

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