I've been focused on water use almost since the moment we moved here 4 years ago. Our current lot is slightly over half an acre, huge by comparison to the tiny lot I tended for 20 years in a nearby beach community and relatively large by Los Angeles standards in general. When we moved in, more than one-third of the lot was covered in grass. We began removing the turf in sections early on, although we still have 2 sections yet to go.
|One of the 2 remaining segments of grass to be removed, what's left is largely crabgrass and assorted weeds|
We voluntarily reduced our water use by more than the 20% requested by Governor Brown in 2014 by eliminating turf grass, making modifications to our irrigation system to reduce water to selected areas, and by swapping out more and more plants for drought tolerant varieties. Will it be enough? Possibly not, although my husband's study of our water use suggests it should be. Still I can see that I'm going to lose plants that can't tolerate parched conditions over long periods. But enough of our drought doldrums, the purpose of this post is to focus on the plants I've found most useful in handling dry conditions.
|Agonis cognata 'Cousin Itt' has adapted well to dry conditions and even tree root competition, although it's a slow grower and appears to prefer partial shade over full sun (low water needs)|
|Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' always looks good (low water needs)|
|I added a couple more Artemisia 'Powis Castle' this winter and they're filling out well - the plant does get ratty-looking over time but it responds well to pruning (low water needs)|
|Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' produces small pink flowers but its foliage is its biggest draw (moderate water required)|
|Planted last fall, Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' is still new to me but it appears to handle dryness with the aplomb of other plants in its genus (low water needs)|
|One of my all time favorite plants, Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' is shown here sporting its summer (left) and winter (right) colors (low water needs)|
|Phormiums vary in terms of their water requirements but this one, probably P. tenax 'Atropurpureum', gets by with relatively little water or attention alongside the driveway|
|Stipa tenuissima has a reputation for rampant self-seeding but a low water diet (and regular haircuts) helps to keep it within bounds|
|Thymus serphyllum 'Minus' has done a good job as a groundcover between pathway stones (low to moderate water needs)|
|Yucca 'Bright Star' is a slow-grower but it has presence in the border (low water needs)|
|I hesitated about including Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' here as it struggled last summer but, with moderate water, I hope it'll maintain its good looks|
|Arthropodium cirratum doesn't look like a tough plant but it's a stellar performer in dry shade as long as you control snails and slugs (low to moderate water needs, depending upon degree of sun exposure)|
|Convolvulus sabatius is a good filler I need to use more (moderate water needs; tends to die back in summer here)|
|Dorycnium hirsutum (aka Hairy Canary Clover) looks good even when not in bloom (low water needs)|
|Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Goblin' self-seeds freely (moderate water needs)|
|Gazania rigens hybrids can really brighten up a space (moderate water needs)|
|Grevilleas are stars when it comes to low water requirements - G. 'Peaches & Cream' bloom shown on the left and G. 'Superb' on the right|
|Grevillea lavandulcea 'Penola' is another low water user with an exceptionally long bloom period|
|Limonium perezii, usually offered here in 6-packs, provides a lot of bang for the buck and, when it gets too ratty to rejuvenate, it's easily replaced (low to moderate water needs)|
|Solanum xanti 'Mountain Pride', a California native, is my best find in the past year - I recently scooped up 3 more, which I hope can get themselves established before summer arrives with a vengeance (low water needs)|
|Aeoniums of all kinds love it here - many can be propagated by simply snipping a rosette and portion of stalk and pushing it into the soil (low water needs; may go dormant in summer, especially in full sun with little or no water)|
|Agave attenuata does best with some shade during the hottest part of the day (low water needs)|
|One of the more compact Agaves, 'Blue Glow' is one of my favorites (low water needs)|
|Agave ovatilfolia (aka Whale's Tongue Agave) is said to grow bigger faster with extra water but mine gets by with little|
|Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' deserves more space in my garden than it's been given - it's become almost too popular here, rivaling Agapanthus with its ubiquitous presence (low water needs)|
|Senecio cylindricus is another succulent I can cut and simply stick in the ground|
If you have a low water needs plant you like, please share!
For those of you that are interested I've added a number of links to information on California's drought in the right-hand side-bar of my blog. Work is pending to remove the remaining lawn here. Additional, extra-large rain collection barrels are on order. And a mulch delivery is planned for next week when the weather cools. Given that temperatures here have soared again, hitting 95F for 2 days in a row this week so far, I don't expect I'll do much more in the way of new planting until fall, when I hope to replace more of my drought-sensitive plants for more resilient ones like those I've presented here.
All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party