After several years of drought here in southern California—and El Nino storms last winter that under-performed—we’re all beginning to wonder if a home landscape composed of pink pea gravel is in our immediate future. Tree-ring data and other historical research shows that extended periods of low rainfall like we’re enduring now may actually be more like the rule (rather than the exception) for this region. If the science is correct, we’re better off planning and planting for a drier “new normal.”
Here are some drought-tolerant plants to consider for not-rainy days to come:
California lilac is fragrant and produces small purple blossoms. Very drought-tolerant, this shrub actually hates being over-watered.
Manzanita is considered the classic shrub of the Pacific coast, native from Oregon to Baja California. It’s an evergreen well-accustomed to low rainfall and still able to put out early season blooms.
Coast rosemary produces that tangy scent as well as lavender flowers through winter and spring. It doesn’t mind a little drought and isn’t sun-shy.
Ice plant is the definitive low-maintenance ground plant. You see it utilized along many freeway embankments in SoCal. It withstands drought and spreads quickly to cover tire skids and other abuse, yet still puts out tiny daisy-like flowers.
Silver carpet produces gray-green leaves and stands up well to light foot traffic. It’s often utilized to cover spaces between pathway stones and prefers dry, rocky soil that used to be your lawn.
Bouganvillea is an ornamental vine that produces vivid purple flowers most of the year. It’s a southern California classic that loves the sun. The vines are frequently found quietly thriving in spots where they’ve received no care at all—including regular watering—for decades.
Japanese wisteria is a twining vine that likes to climb vertical objects like trees. Its flowers are bright and blue-violet and attract hummingbirds. Wisteria likes well-drained soil and full sun.
Agave is a desert-dweller, unfazed by drought. Wide fleshy leaves include a thorny spine so avoid contact. Agave is a good choice to fill an empty spot with little or no maintenance. Its nectar is also the chief ingredient in tequila.
Aloe is a well-known succulent for folk medicine uses. In your yard, it likes drained, sandy soil and not-full sunlight. Producing tubular yellow flowers in summer, aloe makes a good accent for adding contrast among other plants.
If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post “How to Save Water During the Summer Months”
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